There has been a great deal of movement within aviation and air logistics this week, and not just regarding boxes and containers. From acquisitions to accidents, all the way through to possibly alarming situations, CargoForwarder Global takes a whirlwind look at the various goings-on.
If this week were a meme, it might resemble PacMan munching his way through a few company logos. Among the various announcements of upcoming buyouts such as Maersk’s of Danish project logistics company, Martin Bender, alongside its search for an own air freight hub in the U.S., and the completion of Agility’s acquisition of Menzies (CFG reported: https://www.cargoforwarder.eu/2022/02/21/nas-takes-over-menzies-aviation/) creating the world’s largest aviation services provider, much of the media this week was focussed on speculations around the acquisition of the air cargo company with the world’s largest Boeing 747 fleet: Atlas Air. Eventually Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. confirmed that this was so: an investor group led by Apollo, with J.F. Lehman & Company, and Hill City Capital, was entering into an all-cash transaction valued at around USD 5.2 billion, taking the airline off the Nasdaq stock exchange and making it a privately-held company once the deal closes late 2022, or first quarter of 2023. Apollo announced: “With the strong market demand and long-term secular tailwinds for global air cargo services, Atlas is poised to capitalize on many opportunities for continued growth as a fund portfolio company of Apollo, J.F. Lehman and Hill City.” Opportunities such as fleet modernization which has already begun.
Over in Korea, Air Premia’s two largest shareholders, Korean investment consulting firm, JC & Partners Co. (24.7%), and Park Bong-Cheol, Chairman of Hong Kong-based logistics company, Korchina (24%), are looking to divest themselves of their combined 48.7% stake for around USD 154 million. LX Pantos Co., the logistics unit of South Korea’s LX Group and the country’s largest overseas freight forwarder, is mulling the opportunity over, to enhance its own cargo deliveries across the globe.
This past week has seen a number of odd happenstances – through fluke or carelessness. Videos taken at La Guardia Airport on Tuesday, documented the moment a tug managed to get itself crushed under the American Airlines Boeing 737-800 it had been towing. The tug had taken a sharp right turn, causing the aircraft to jack-knife, its 41 tons snapping the towbar and then coming to rest on top of the vehicle. By some miracle, the driver having had the foresight to duck, was unharmed in the mangled cab. The underbelly of the aircraft was also damaged, and the plane was towed to a hangar for inspection and repairs.
Sitting on the fence
Over at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska, images emerged on Monday, of a Korean Air Cargo that rolled, uncontrolled, into the airport fence. The incident, again involving a tug, occurred at around 09:30 that morning, whilst Pegasus Aviation Services ground handlers were towing the aircraft. It became unsecured and rolled into the fence, hitting and damaging an uninvolved FedEx truck en route, that was parked outside the nearby FedEx Maintenance Hangar. The airport’s Police and Fire Chief, Aaron Danielson, confirmed that thankfully there were no injuries, just damage to the fence that would be requiring repair. Photos showed what looked like cosmetic damage to the engine of the plane, which had been scheduled to fly to Chicago. He also said: “An aircraft rolling away is not common: There’s a variety of things that people do to secure those aircraft, a few different mechanisms and layers of protection there.”
An investigation is underway to establish what happened.
Tuesday, once more, and flight KL 1542 had left Leeds, UK, for Amsterdam, Netherlands, when the forward cargo door on Boeing 737-700 opened mid-flight (in other words, over the North Sea) on the 50-minute journey. At no point during the flight, which landed normally and safely and without causing injury, was there any indication that anything was wrong. An investigation is now underway as to how the hatch could have become unlatched. The airline issued the following statement: “During flight KL1542 from Leeds to Amsterdam on 2 August, one of the cargo hatches was partially pressed in due to a technical defect. Passengers and crew were not in any danger. There was also no risk of cargo or bags falling out.” Luckily, the cargo doors on the Boeing 737 open inward, thus the risk of falling hold items was greatly minimized compared to other aircraft types where the doors open outward.
One of the last things an airport which relies on electricity to keep planes flying safely, lights on, baggage belts and check-in desks working smoothly, and all kinds of other passenger and cargo processes running, wants is an electrical blackout. Yet, that is exactly what happened in Perth, Australia on Tuesday 02AUG22. As a result of severe storms with up to 130 km/h winds, the airport (and many other facilities and houses in the region) lost its power for several hours, leading to 14 cancelled flights and hundreds of flight delays.
On Monday, British media reported large plumes of smoke in the vicinity of London-Heathrow airport. Whilst not on the actual airport grounds itself, the grass fires (whether accidental or arson) in Feltham covered an area of 60,000 m², and the smoke meant that Heathrow had to shift landing flights to its northern runway (27R) and departing ones to the southern runway (27L), thus managing to avoid any delays.
Smoke of a more alarming kind, however, occurred two days later: at 13:18 local time, the Fagradalsfjall volcano in southwest Iceland, located just 30 km away from the country’s Reykjavik Airport, erupted, spewing lava once more. It had lain dormant for 815 years, until an initial eruption on 19MAR21, which remained active until 18SEP21. This new eruption is ongoing and has so far not impacted operations at the airport. What it has done, is attract a great many tourists keen on getting selfies with the fiery phenomenon. Possibly, after all the recent pandemic upheaval, the panic and fear of a second air traffic fallout as happened in 2010 when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted, spewing huge ash clouds into the atmosphere, is nothing. After all, what are 6 days of regional immobility compared to 2+ years of constant international flight disruption?
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