The fight against plastics in our suffering oceans is a long and frustrating one. One that has been taken up by a British charity called Sea Sense, for which Magma Aviation recently arranged the pro bono transport of a ton of plastic-free, biodegradable flip flops from Fuzhou, China, to the UK. How do flip flops help reduce plastic in our oceans, and how did Magma Aviation get involved? CargoForwarder Global (CFG) asked Conor Brannigan (CB), Magma Aviation CEO, about the initiative and the cargo airline’s take on sustainability.
22,000 kg of ocean-bound plastic which translates into the weight of more than 2.2 million plastic bottles – that is the impressive total that the UK-based non-profit organization, Sea Sense, has so far collected from beaches in Sierra, Kenya, and Indonesia. Those collecting the plastic waste are funded by Sea Sense, from money generated through the production and sale of plastic-free, biodegradable flip flops.
Logistics is a cost factor
With the flip flops being produced in China, yet being sold to customers in the UK, it is clear that they require transporting: a cost factor that eat into funds that could be more usefully distributed among the plastic-collecting communities. Magma Aviation’s offer to ship the flip flops for free was very welcome, as Sea Sense Founder, Luke McMillan, explained: “We are grateful for Magma Aviation’s efficiency and their eagerness to assist our cause. By donating their time and resources we were able to transport our flip flops across the world quickly, and as a result we have been able to free up funds to employ more plastic collectors in Sierra Leone, providing them with a truly vital income.”
Quick and free
Magma Aviation Operations Manager, James Le Poer Trench, described the charter operation:
“We had two priorities with this charter: 1) to ensure the transport was as quick and easy as possible, reducing Sea Sense’s lead time. 2) that Magma Aviation would pay for the transport, end-to-end. Profits from each pair of flip flops enable 500 ocean-bound plastic bottles to be removed from some of the world’s most polluted waterways and coastlines, so we are delighted to have transported over one ton of flip flops to their point of sale to fund this amazing endeavor. Plastic flip flops are the world’s most popular shoe, with 3 billion pairs sold globally every year. Awareness of ocean plastics is high, but the methods of helping the cause are relatively unknown. We are providing people with the chance to make a difference; a simple way to convert concern into action.”
Interview with Conor Brannigan (CB), Magma Aviation CEO
CFG: Is this Magma Aviation’s first cooperation with Sea Sense? Will there be more to come?
CB: This our second cooperation with Sea Sense. We moved a similar size shipment in MAY22. At the moment, we are projecting four shipments per annum, based on Sea Sense’s needs at this time. We are fully behind Sea Sense and the incredible work they do, and will support them as much as possible. It really is a team effort to ensure a smooth and efficient process for Sea Sense, and I would like to thank everyone involved to make these first two movements a huge success.
CFG: How did the Sea Sense project come about?
CB: Magma Aviation’s Head of Operations, James le Poer Trench, and the Founder of Sea Sense, Luke McMillan, met at university and became good friends. With James working in air cargo and Luke moving products by air, it inevitably led to a conversation. When James introduced Luke to me, and we had a discussion about what they do and what their needs were, I had no hesitation to offer support.
CFG: What is Magma Aviation's approach to Sustainability? Goals for 2023?
CB: Sustainability is a huge focus for Magma Aviation in 2023 and beyond. As well as my role as CEO of Magma Aviation, I am also responsible for ESG for the Chapman Freeborn Group. In conjunction and with support from the Avia Solutions Group, we are working on a number of initiatives to implement in 2023. This includes carbon offsetting to minimize the impact our aviation operations have on the environment. We will also improve how we use our energy in our global offices and ensure that we are promoting recycling and sustainable goods. Magma Aviation in particular, as a Boeing 747 operator, is working with various fuel suppliers to introduce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) into our fleet. As well as our own contribution to offsetting, we will give the opportunity to customers and partners to contribute. The Avia Solutions Group have released their Environmental, Social and Governance Report for 2021.
CFG: What other social responsibility projects is Magma Aviation involved in?
CB: In 2022, we sponsored a team in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge (TWAC). The TWAC is a 3,500-mile race across the Atlantic, from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean. What makes this race very special is the fact it’s done in rowing boats, with no sails or engines. The race started in early DEC22, and some of the 42 teams have already finished by mid-JAN23. Magma Aviation’s team, Raring to Row, is still out on the course and expecting to cross the finish line by the 24/25JAN23. The Raring to Row team is participating in the race on behalf of the charity, Action Medical Research, and they aim to raise over £100,000. Action Medical Research fund vital research into childhood rare diseases. In their own words, they “are on a mission to save and change children’s lives through medical research, developing treatments, vaccinations and cures.”
It's hard to put into words how delighted we are to play a significant part in this incredible endeavor by Raring to Row, and to support an amazing charity. We are in awe of the all the teams participating in this race and we wish them a safe journey. At Magma Aviation HQ, we have converted one of our meeting rooms into a ‘rowing room’, with the addition of two rowing machines, and we are trying to match the Raring to Row team’s distance rowed, albeit in a safe air-conditioned office and not out in the middle of the Atlantic!
In 2022, we also had the pleasure to sponsor the Cottesmore Junior Open, which was a golf tournament in OCT22, held in Sussex for golfers aged between 5 and 18 years old. The tournament sees young boys and girls from clubs across Sussex, Surrey, and Kent take part, and it was a huge success with £1,300 in prizes. We were delighted to be involved and we will look to do more in the local community in 2023.
CFG: What is the general outlook for the air freight industry in 2023, in your view?
CB: I have a cautiously optimistic view of the air freight industry in 2023. We almost have to forget everything that happened in air cargo since MAR20, so that we have a fresh perspective on what’s going on and what’s expected in 2023. Of course, we see a decline in demand and increased belly capacity due to resumption of passenger demand, however, for Magma Aviation at least, things are quite stable, and we see lots of niche opportunities to get involved in. Such opportunities may not have been possible during the pandemic as our schedule was back-to-back. We also have the opportunity again to focus on alliances, which, during the pandemic, was not possible to an extent. We were all busy with our own capacity, and for good reason, and it is nice now to shift some focus to various cooperations.
Thank you, Conor Brannigan, for your insights.
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