No Challenge left unaccepted
The 2016-incepted tailored airfreight services provider, Challenge Group, has a lot more than just cargo movement going on. It announced last week that it has signed an agreement with the Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) Aviation Division to convert eight passenger aircraft to full cargo freighters. Challenge Group will be investing around $ 300 million to acquire and convert four B767-300 aircraft and four B777-300ER aircraft, tripling the size of its current fleet. “The conversion of the B767-300 aircraft will take place during 2022 at a conversion site currently under construction in Ethiopia. We expect to take delivery of our first unit during Q3 of 2022, with the remainder being delivered by the end of 2023. The B777-300ER aircraft will be converted in a second phase during 2025-2026 and will increase the group's fleet to a total of 12 aircraft within the next 5 years,” Challenge Group CEO, Yossi Shoukroun, outlined in a press release letter.
That is not all. The Group is welcoming a third airline member – one that it is currently in the process of establishing, and which will be based in Malta, and will form part of Challenge Air Cargo Limited, “which up to now has acted as a virtual airline, charter-broker, and cargo GSA,” he stated.
The application for the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) has already been submitted to the Malta Aviation Authority. Plans for the airline which will receive the fleet of B767-300 aircraft once converted, are to increase the Group’s commercial capabilities to China, North America, Africa, and other new destinations. Captain Mauro Porta has been appointed Accountable Manager to head the Maltese airline project.
Air Canada exploring Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology for SAF
Air Canada and Carbon Engineering Ltd. (CE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to look at cooperation opportunities to decarbonize aviation. In particular, to explore the two ways in which CE’s proprietary Direct Air Capture (DAC) technology, which takes carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the atmosphere, can benefit Air Canada’s goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions throughout its global operations by 2050. CE’s DAC technology not only enables the removal of great amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere and have it stored securely, this atmospheric CO2 can also be combined with clean hydrogen in CE’s AIR TO FUELS™ process, to produce ultra-low carbon transportation fuels, such as SAF. Air Canada will be looking to purchase this CE-manufactured SAF. “At Air Canada, we are very focused on seeking innovative, long term, sustainable emission reduction solutions, as we work towards achieving our absolute midterm GHG net reduction targets by 2030 and our net zero GHG emissions goal by 2050. Our relationship with Carbon Engineering, spanning three years, has enabled us to learn about their emerging technology advances, SAF production, and ecosystem-building efforts. We are pleased to officially become the first Canadian airline to work with CE to advance new, transformational technologies towards the commercial viability of SAFs and carbon removal; two significant components to building a long-term, sustainable, global aviation industry,” Amos Kazzaz, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer at Air Canada, said.
“Addressing emissions within the aviation industry is expected to be some of the most challenging, yet important, work in the years to come,” Steve Oldham, CEO of CE, stated. “The good news is that feasible, affordable, and scalable solutions, like CE’s DAC and AIR TO FUELSTM technologies, are available and capable of making a meaningful impact in meeting critical net zero targets. At CE, supporting aviation decarbonization is a key component of our commercialization plans, and we’re thrilled to be working with a major airline like Air Canada, to collaborate on ways to accelerate the potential of DAC-based solutions in supporting the aviation energy transition.”
Per Aquila (et SkyExec) ad Astral
Astral Airlines has signed with commercial aerospace specialty finance platform, Aquila Air Capital, to lease three Boeing 757-200F aircraft, together with SkyExec Capital Jets which arranged and will service the lease during its term. The aircraft are currently completing their scheduled maintenance and will be delivered to Astral this month.
Al Wood, CEO of Aquila Air Capital, which focuses on providing asset financing in partnership with industry participants, as well as purchasing and leasing aircraft, engines and other aviation equipment, stated: ”We are delighted to bring on Astral Airlines as a customer. At Aquila, we are uniquely focused on providing cost effective and flexible solutions for our customers to manage through these unprecedented times. We look forward to this being the beginning of a long-term relationship with Astral to help facilitate their future growth.”
Astral CEO, Sanjeev Gadhia, announced: “We are excited to enter into a lease agreement for three B757-200F aircraft from Aquila Air Capital and SkyExec Capital Jets. The aircraft will take over the Nairobi - Johannesburg and Nairobi - Dubai scheduled service with increased frequency for our clients in addition to new scheduled routes to and within Africa and Middle East in 2022. It will also offer point-to-point solutions for COVID-19 vaccines (from India / UAE to Africa) in addition to e-commerce shipments to new markets.”
“The B757-200F will complement the Astral fleet with new and efficient options to and within its existing scheduled and charter freighter network, which comprises of over 50 destinations in Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia,” Astral's Commercial Director in UAE, Satvir Kalsi, outlined.
“With this agreement, Astral Aviation will become the largest B757F operator in Africa and Middle East, in addition to being the only B767F operator in the region,” Astral COO, Michael Mutahi, added. “The B757F is a fuel-efficient, mid-range and narrow-body freighter, with a payload of up to 30 tons and a range of five hours, which makes it a perfect freighter for the African, Middle East & Southeast Asia region.”
TIACA’s Air Cargo Sustainability Roadmap now available
While international delegates at the COP26 put their heads together over in Glasgow to draw up intricate plans to halt global warming, The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has already worked out a guideline for the air cargo industry, and published its first Air Cargo Sustainability Roadmap. Based on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it is designed to support the industry’s transformation, showing what roles air cargo stakeholders play today and can expect to play in future. Aligned with TIACA’s sustainability focus on People, Planet and Prosperity, the Roadmap not only illustrates how TIACA will support the industry, but also lists 30 actionable priorities categorized into 8 key areas: Decarbonization, Elimination of Waste, Protecting Biodiversity, Supporting Local Economies and Communities, Improving Lives and Well-being, Improving Efficiencies and Profitability, Attracting, Retaining, and Developing employees, and Building and Nurturing Partnerships.
Glyn Hughes, TIACA Director General, commented: “As we look ahead to the post-Covid world, we fully expect the topic of Sustainability to be a significant driver of future industry success. We anticipate it will become our license to operate with industry customers and business partners demanding excellence in all aspects of sustainable performance; therefore the time to act is now.”
“I am proud of this latest deliverable in the TIACA Sustainability portfolio, which also comprises annual surveys, industry report card, an awards program, training, and people development initiatives, with even more things in the pipeline. The Board sees this as a critical priority, and we are pleased to support our members and the wider air cargo community with tools and materials.” Steven Polmans, Chair, added.
The Macau gamble pays off
My Jet Xpress Airlines and Kerry Logistics Network (KLN) Limited are looking to soon celebrate their 200th joint flight soon. The two companies joined forces in MAR21, to provide tailored air freight solutions within Asia using Macau International Airport as their transit hub. The venture was first set up in response to one of KLN's e-commerce customers who urgently required capacity from Macau into East Malaysia and Indonesia. “A transit hub was subsequently established in Macau for three reasons: its proximity to the customer's distribution center, its capability to allow carriage of products with batteries, and the efficiency of its customs clearance process. From five flights a month, this efficient, reliable, and cost-effective customized solution now provides seven to eight flights per week and is going to celebrate its 200th flight soon,” the press release reads.
Mohamed Yunos Bin Mohamed Ishak, Chairman of My Jet Xpress, said, “My Jet Xpress successfully achieved 98% of on-time performance since we catered to the demand for both these markets. The investment into the new aircraft, two Boeing 737-800F, is about RM40 million to complement our existing three Boeing 737-300F and one Boeing 737-400F planes. With the strong e-commerce market growing rapidly, we acknowledge the consumer demand for greater transparency, speed, and reliability. We hope to see My Jet Xpress emerge as one of the main players in the air cargo industry, expanding not only in Southeast Asia but also throughout Asia with a larger fleet comprising narrow and wide body aircraft.”
Mathieu Biron, Managing Director - Global Freight Forwarding of Kerry Logistics Network, said, “The pandemic, while challenging, also gave us an impetus to demonstrate to our customers that we are an agile, flexible, and resilient organization. We designed and launched solutions that enabled us to fill the gap between what limited capacity carriers can provide vis-a-vis the demand from customers. The initiative between My Jet Xpress and KLN is a perfect example of two partners designing a unique solution to support the customers, and it proved effective.” Spurred on by this success, the two companies will also be introducing scheduled services from Kuala Lumpur and Shenzhen to destinations within Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
China approves ABC to transport big Lithium Batteries
Volga-Dnepr Group member, AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), has become the first airline to receive approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) to commercially transport large lithium batteries. These are batteries weighing more than 35 kgs, and require SP (Special Provision) A99. It took two years of preparation, testing, and close collaboration with stakeholders, to achieve the authorization which now opens up an important niche market as demand for lithium batteries rises. They are increasingly an integral part of a number of different products, from consumer electronics to high-tech goods. In addition, China is the main lithium battery manufacturer. Until now, these heavy batteries have generally travelled via sea freight, though the current disruptions lead to a need for alternative solutions. With the CAAC’s approval, ABC will be able to provide this alternative to those seeking SP A99 transport solutions.
The first such commercial shipment has already been flown. On 20OCT21, a 113 kg Lithium Battery shipment left Shanghai Pudong Airport (China) for Frankfurt (Germany), on behalf of one of the world’s largest Lithium Battery manufacturers: Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited. Tom Ouyang, AirBridgeCargo Regional Special Cargo Manager - Asia & Pacific, announed: “This is an important event for the Lithium Battery industry in China, and we are honored to be the first airline to get CAAC approval. The export of the first SP A99 lithium battery shipment is a remarkable milestone in the air logistics industry in China. Our appreciation for the great efforts done by the authorities, the customer, and our teams, for making it happen. With the successful experience, we are encouraged to support more and more customers on the transportation of this special cargo in future.”
Chapman Freeborn sets up in Moscow
In response to rapid expansion across Russia, the global aircraft charter specialist, Chapman Freeborn (Avia Solutions Group) has opened its first office in Moscow, and appointed Maxim Tsarev as Director General, Russia. Eric Erbacher, Chapman Freeborn CEO, explained: “Russia is a fast-developing market and is economically growing. Traditionally the main industries have been oil and gas, mining, and machine manufacturing. We see aircraft building, aerospace production and tech as growing industries, as well as automotive and transport. The move to open an office in Moscow is part of our long-term growth and expansion plans. Having Chapman Freeborn positioned in Moscow will allow us to far better work strategically with freight forwarders and support these growing markets with our product offering.”
Maxim Tsarev comes over from having spent a decade working for DSV Global Transport and Logistics – lastly as its DSV Air & Sea Russia Deputy Managing Director. He enunciated: “I have always found the air freight and aviation part of transport and logistics the most exciting and interesting. It is fast-paced and dynamic, and you can see instant results from air transport. When the opportunity arose for me to join Chapman Freeborn, I jumped at it – to be involved from the start, with the new office opening here in Moscow, and the chance to develop and lead the strategy for the Russian market is an exciting challenge.” He will be supported by his newly recruited team, covering Chapman Freeborn Russia’s three key product areas: Andrius Butkus as OBC Director, Roman Vorobyev as Passenger Director, and Vladislav Volzhanin as Cargo Director.
“The OBC (On Board Courier) product offering I think will be the most interesting”, Maxim added. “This is new to the Russian market and something that Chapman Freeborn Russia can offer as a stand-alone product. There is huge potential for us here, and to have the backing of Avia Solutions Group and the fleet of aircraft from across the group to call upon only enhances our offering.”
PayCargo’s new Chief Design Officer
PayCargo is responding to a huge increase in users since the start of the pandemic, by appointing Amit Gairola as its Chief Design Officer. Based in London, he will be globally responsibly for PayCargo’s data business, as well as lead a team focused on the product and strategy of PayCargo’s expansion in Europe, Middle East, and Asia. Gairola joins PayCargo from Amazon, where he spent ten years in a number of General Management, Product, and Commercial roles including, most recently, that of General Manager of Amazon Freight in Europe. Other engagements include the position of Chief Executive for a new business opportunity in the sustainable fashion start-up, Pangaia, and strategy consulting with Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Commenting on his appointment, Gairola said: “PayCargo is an exciting, fast-scaling platform solving a significant customer problem in the cargo payments space – their sustained hyper-growth over recent years in the US speaks for the value of the product and we are thrilled to bring this solution to customers in Europe, Middle East and Asia.”
PayCargo received an additional USD125 million by global venture capital and private equity firm Insight Partners in a Series B round in JUN21, having secured USD35 million in its Series A nine months prior. This will be used for the EMEIA expansion alongside digital payment tools and services for platform users. Eduardo Del Riego, Global Chief Executive Office, PayCargo, commented: “Year over year we continue growing in users and expanding our presence internationally. PayCargo is currently on track to process more than USD10 billion of freight-related payments: a 250% increase from 2020. A strong portion of this growth is coming from the expansion in EMEA and Asia regions. With this appointment, we are further demonstrating our commitment to providing digital payment solutions globally, to add efficiency and transparency to supply chains.”
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