If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
TIACA’s Chair and Vice Chair have been re-appointed for a second term. Over the past two years, Steven Polmans and Sanjeev Gadhia have blown the dust off TIACA’s image and brought its structure into the 21st century: intensive groundwork that will now see the necessary stability going forward. The reappointment is testament to the widespread and in-depth experience in air cargo processes and communities, cargo airline management, strategy, and digitalization that the two gentlemen bring with them. “The re-appointment will allow continuity of leadership that will steer the Association through its Executive Summit in March 2022 and the Air Cargo Forum which will be held in its new home at the Miami Convention Center in November 2022,” the press release reads.
Steven Polmans, Chair, said: “I am grateful for the strong support that the Board of Directors has given me by this re-appointment. The industry and the association have recently faced many challenges but have risen above them. I look forward to continuing the work that has already begun on ensuring the association is financially viable and can meet the needs of our members, who are the real drivers of this association. We will continue to ensure our efforts are membership and content-driven and will focus on the membership, advocacy, partnership, knowledge, sustainability and events.”
Sanjeev Gadhia, Vice Chair, stated: “I am proud of the work that we have achieved, transforming the Association, particularly during such a difficult time for the industry was quite an achievement but we still have a lot of work to do and I look forward to continuing our work for the members and the air cargo industry and I appreciate the confidence the board has shown by this re-election.”
Preparing an aircraft engine for its flight
Not an everyday shipment: Skyport in Prague, Czech Republic, recently handled a 4.3-ton Airbus CFM56-5B6/P aircraft engine, preparing it for its flight from Prague Vaclav Havel Airport to Yekaterinburg, Russia, onboard of a Ural Airlines plane. “Skyport handles aircraft spare parts on a regular basis and our team are experts in the safe and efficient handling of high-value, heavy goods,” David Adámek, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Skyport said. “The Skyport team used a Kalmar Forklift with a 12-ton lifting capacity to handle the engine during loading, the biggest forklift at Prague Vaclav Havel Airport.” The project also saw the ground handler’s strategic partnership with Ural Airlines, for whom East-West AERO provides representative activities in the European Union, being extended.
Ural Airlines, Russia’s fifth largest airline, with its fleet of 51 A320 aircraft (including seven brand new Airbus NEOs), was transporting A320-family, narrow-body engine for its own purposes. Since 2006, its logistical hub is in Prague, given the city’s geographical location at the heart of Europe. Ural Airlines kept flying throughout the 2020 pandemic and had converted 14 of its passenger aircraft into preighters, to carry medical cargo in the cabins. The airline has almost returned to its pre-pandemic figures, and operations are still increasing. “Intense operations require regular maintenance of the fleet, including heavy repairs of engines and landing gears,” Matvey Koloturskiy, Deputy CEO - Director of Economics, JSC Ural Airlines, emphasized. “With the help of Skyport, Ural Airlines has already transported ten engines and completed seven leg sets in 2021 to and from its European maintenance partners. We intend to increase our co-operation and are glad that it has increased during the hardest crisis in aviation history.”
Size is everything when it comes to cargo
Linz Airport, Austria, recently welcomed the biggest metal bird there is: Antonov Airlines’ very own AN-225 “MRIYA” brought 110 tons of Covid-19 test kits to Austrian pharmacies all the way from Tianjin, China, at a time when capacity is incredibly constrained ex Asia. With its 250-ton cargo capacity, Mriya is much in demand these days, when it comes to urgent large and heavy shipments. “We chartered the Antonov Airlines AN-225 to best serve the client's needs in terms of capacity and availability,” Tim Fernholz, Charter Sales, Chapman Freeborn said. “Antonov Airlines and Chapman Freeborn have once again partnered to benefit the end customer by sourcing solutions that are outside of the ordinary, such as chartering the world's largest aircraft.”
“Currently, there is a lack of transport capacity in the global market, particularly for maritime users, which has impacted air freight availability by increasing demand significantly,” Andriy Blagovisniy, Commercial Director, Antonov Airlines explained. “The Antonov Airlines fleet of AN-124-100s is fully booked, which means our AN-225, with its 250-ton payload, is in demand to source solutions for our customer's urgent logistics tasks.” Over the course of 2020, during the pandemic, the AN-225 transported more than 1,300 tons of medical and humanitarian cargo. Flying back to the Ukraine from Linz, the aircraft landed at Istanbul, Turkey’s new airport for the first time, for a technical stop.
Jettainer and Swiss International Air Lines are green with…
… no, not envy! The green refers to the sustainable partnership between the two, which has just been extended for another five years. The ULD management expert will continue to provide global ULD management and maintenance services for Swiss International Air Lines, including its air cargo division Swiss WorldCargo, as well as its affiliate, Edelweiss Air. Why green? Because the contract stipulates that Jettainer will replace 652 AKE luggage and cargo containers with lighter and more environmentally friendly, lightweight ULDs made, to a large extent, of composite material. Since years, Jettainer has been collaborating with a number of manufacturers to develop more sustainable, yet robust, lightweight containers. These lighter containers mean 16 kilos less weight per unit and thus both a more efficient use of jet fuel, as well as a reduction in CO2 emissions. Jettainer and Swiss World Cargo have been cooperating since 2006, and, in 2013, already began replacing the airline’s XKN ULD fleet used to transport valuables and clothing on its long-haul flights, with AVA containers which weigh 40 kilos less. These lighter containers, along with Jettainer’s optimal ULD steering, positioning, and repair processes, go a long way in supporting SWISS in achieving its sustainability goals.
“We are excited to continue to develop our close and long-lasting collaboration with Jettainer. With its newer, lightweight models, Jettainer is able to adhere to our sustainability standards and commitments, as we continue to find innovative ways to reduce our global carbon footprint,” Lorenzo Stoll, Head of Cargo at Swiss International Air Lines, remarked.
Thorsten Riekert, Chief Sales Officer of Jettainer GmbH, added “ULDs can play a key role in saving huge amounts of jet fuel each year. Each kilogram less and every deadhead flight avoided count. We deliver these savings by efficient ULD management and by deploying innovative lightweight equipment. This approach makes it possible for our customer Swiss International Air Lines to cut costs and improve their environmental footprint.”
Bolloré Logistics Singapore employ bots in its warehouse
Bolloré Logistics Singapore is working together with Botsync, a Singapore-based start-up that develops automation solutions for internal logistics transportation. Since one year, the two companies have been working together on the MAG300 AMR (autonomous mobile robot), supported by Enterprise Singapore (ESG). “It is aimed at helping automate two logistics processes – order replenishment and preparation, through the reduction of movement of goods by human labor,” the press release explains. “MAG300 differentiates itself from other conventional robot solutions with its intelligent proprietary software suite that enables the solution to quickly adapt to dynamic warehouse operations. With this new solution, operators can set any route permutations within the predefined pickup and drop-off points easily via a tablet with Botsync’s easy-to-use dashboard.” Its unique trolley design enables both manual operations by a human, or automation using traditional Material Handling Equipment (MHE), or the robot. “We want to go beyond what conventional bots can do and create something with flexibility and scalability. By taking the time to collaboratively design a solution, it can then truly provide the best answer to a problem statement.” Pierre Matheron, Innovation Project Manager at Bolloré Logistics Singapore, underlined.
Its many front and back sensors can detect moving or stationary objects within a distance of five meters, enabling the MAG300 AMR to adapt its course to avoid collision. It can operate for 8 solid hours before automatically heading back to the charging station to recharge itself in 2.5 hours. Up to 300kg and 300 boxes per hour can be transported at a maximum traveling speed of up to 6.3 km/h, thus saving up to 90 manhours per month through more efficient warehouse processes. “We believe that customers shouldn't have to struggle to adapt and implement automation. Our products are designed to adapt to a user’s conditions seamlessly with minimal disruption and this collaboration is a testament of our extensive efforts to ensure we provide a right-fit automation solution to support Bolloré in achieving operational excellence.” Prashant Trivedi, Co-Founder & Chief Commercial Offer at Botsync, stated. The MAG300 AMR concept has been customized to meet Bolloré Logistics’ requirements and can thus be easily scaled across all other hubs without incurring additional heavy investments. “The full implementation of MAG AMR automation solution across Blue Hub will take place by Q1 2022. Both companies are working to extend the usage for other processes involving stock movement to achieve full utilization of the AMR.”
BRU and SkyDrone join forces, while the EU and Qatar inked an aviation treaty
Brussels Airport Company (BAC) has taken a 50% minus 1 share in SkeyDrone, a subsidiary of Belgium Air Traffic Control body Skeyes. Since its inception in 2020 SkeyDrone offers positioning, navigation, guidance, and data analysis services for unmanned aircraft in Belgium and abroad to monitor the ongoing proliferation of the devices. “It is our task to let them take their place safely among the existing air traffic,” says Skeyes CEO Johan Decuyper.
As yet, BAC has no imminent plans to launch drone operations of its own, the company’s spokesperson explains. “Of course, together with SkeyDrone we will be abler to explore further possibilities. In the past we did some testing with drones for safety and security such as perimeter surveillance and inspections and bird control to detect birds and other animals at the tarmac.” As for cargo transport, at the time being no projects or research have been set up within the framework of Air Cargo Belgium, says ACB Director Geert Keirens.
Simultaneously, the EU and Qatar inked a “benchmark” aviation agreement, announced the block’s Mobility and Transport Commissioner, Adina Vălean in Brussels. It is the first comprehensive aviation treaty signed by both sides. According to the pact, EU airports in Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands will be subject to a gradual build-up of capacity provided by Qatari carriers until 2024. In terms of market access for air cargo, the following rights will be granted to EU and Qatari airlines:42 (sic!) weekly services between Qatar and Belgium, 14/7 France, Germany, and the Netherlands each, 21/7 Italy-Qatar.
Meanwhile, European airlines have harshly criticized the aviation agreement. They speak of a sellout of European aviation interests by Commissioner Vălean. “The treaty blatantly discriminates the interests of EU-based airlines,” said a leading European aviation manager to CargoForwarder Global. While Qatar’s state subsidized Qatar Airlines is allowed to land almost anywhere in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, EU carriers can conversely only fly to Doha for lack of other destinations in the Emirate. However, the local Qatari passenger and air freight market is only of moderate interest to them.
ECS Group’s backbone is its Cargo Digital Factory
ECS Group introduced its Cargo Digital Factory last week – a 10-strong, gender-balanced, in-house IT and air cargo excellence team based in Paris, France, that follows three clear principles: to harmonize and ensure uniform standards across the group, to digitize and automate processes, and to offer new services to customers. Set up in 2018, to address the highly heterogenous processes and systems across the stations in the 50 countries ECS Group operates in, the team worked on helping to enhance the CHAMP reservation system to meet ECS Group's requirements, and developed its own, in-house, best-in-class, products: Apollo, Pathfinder, and Quantum.
Cédric MILLET, Chief Strategy & Digital Officer at ECS Group, explains: “From the start, our focus in the Cargo Digital Factory has been to bring experienced air cargo and IT talents together to professionalize the way we work. By automating manual processes, we increase efficiencies. At the same time, we focus on using the data and systems we have to create new, value-added services for our customers.” Apollo is a state-of-the art Business Intelligence & Reporting System that has been deployed across the entire ECS Group’s sales force. “All companies have data. The question is not whether you have data, but how you use it,” he explains. “Apollo has been designed to be the catalyst of our commercial strength. In the blink of an eye, our sales staff have real-time visibility of the airline's results and can immediately identify the gaps and determine performance improvement actions.” Pathfinder is a web-based track and trace system which knows exactly where each shipment is located, providing real-time information and in-flight geolocation, while Quantum is the group’s newest digital solution supporting the pricing process by aiding in pricing quotes and following them up.
Developing intelligent, digital tools is just one component of the CDF. Knowing how to best make use of them is a second, vital function. “Change management is crucial in business transformation, and we approach this in two ways: by creating Discovery; our online e-learning platform, and by adopting a proactive change infrastructure across our network. Change Ambassadors in each country are responsible for system implementation. They are not only experts in using the tools, but also provide important feedback which helps us to further improve the systems,” Cedric Millet emphasizes. The Cargo Digital Factory forms the backbone of the Technology pillar within ECS Group's "Augmented GSA" concept.
Lufthansa Cargo’s latest eBooking Connection
Lufthansa Cargo and WiseTech Global are setting up a direct API connection between the airline’s own eBooking platform and WiseTech’s CargoWise platform, making it quick and easy for CargoWise users to access Lufthansa Cargo’s real-time air cargo rates and flight availability, and book directly out of their own system. Besides a more cost-effective, convenient, and efficient booking process, the added overall benefit is improved data quality since there will no longer be a need to duplicate booking information given the direct connection.
Ashwin Bhat, Chief Commercial Officer at Lufthansa Cargo, said: “We are pleased to be collaborating with WiseTech Global on this eBooking connection. As the air cargo industry continues to experience a rapidly changing environment, the ability to connect directly to CargoWise means that we are providing our customers with booking possibilities via their own systems. Not only will this eBooking connection benefit our customers with increased efficiencies and productivity, but it is also enabling and supporting the digitalization of the logistics ecosystem. We look forward to building our partnership with WiseTech Global to enhance value for our customers and further driving the digital transformation of the whole industry.”
Scott McCorquodale, Chief Automation Officer, Air Cargo at WiseTech Global, said, “The partnership between CargoWise and Lufthansa Cargo is a win for our respective customers and the industry in general. As we continue to secure global rollouts with the world’s largest freight forwarders, our eBooking functionality provides logistics operators with immediately available critical information including buy rates and flight availability, complemented by direct flight schedule feeds and increased shipment tracking visibility. Improving the efficiency in information flows around the industry is vital. A direct data interface for eBookings will be the start of our collaboration with Lufthansa Cargo, with further functionality already in the planning, to bring additional benefits to our customers into the future. There is no question that continually investing in implementing the right technology will put airlines and forwarders in a position of strength in the future. In addition to being one of the major global players in air cargo capacity, Lufthansa Cargo is showing that it is leading the industry in technology adoption, and we support this partnership to enhance our air connectivity solutions.”
SpiceJet’s special vaccine livery
100-crore or 1 billion vaccines have been administered across India to date. To celebrate this 100-crore vaccination mark and as a dedication to all the “corona warriors” involved in the mammoth task of India’s Covid-19 vaccination mission, SpiceJet unveiled a special livery on three of its Boeing 737 on 21OCT21. India’s
Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, performed the ceremonial unveiling at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, congratulating all the health workers on their achievement: “I am sure that the coronavirus will lose and the country will win.” The livery shows healthcare workers alongside an image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Health Minister.
At the unveiling, SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director, Ajay Singh applauded the “incredible feat of administering 100 crore Covid-19 vaccination doses under the leadership of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The fact that a record 1 billion doses were administered in just 279 days is a testament to the efforts of our health workers and the cooperation of our citizens. The exceptional contribution of our frontline workers and corona warriors including those from SpiceJet and SpiceHealth deserves special mention and should be applauded. Our aircraft livery is a small tribute to the success of India's vaccination mission and a celebration of its never-say-die spirit.” Since the start of the pandemic in MAR20, SpiceJet has operated around 26,300 cargo flights, transporting in the region of 200,000 tons of cargo, including close to 90,000 oxygen concentrators and other relief material, medicines, and medical equipment in India's fight against Covid.
Brigitte Gledhill / Marcel Schoeters in Brussels
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