Dronamics is in the money
Venture capital funds and angel investors from 12 countries together proffered USD 40 million in a pre-Series A funding round, bringing substantial financial input to Dronamics. It had previously been awarded a USD 2.7 million grant by the European Commission under the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program for technology, with the promise by the EIC of an additional USD 13.45 million in equity investment to support Dronamics' Series A round. Among others, the latest funding stems from Founders Factory, Speedinvest, Eleven Capital, and the Strategic Development Fund (SDF), which is the investment arm of the Tawazun Council in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Abdulla Naser Al Jaabari, Managing Director and CEO of SDF, had this to say: “SDF looks at investing in aerospace and mobility companies that can improve movement of humans and cargo autonomously in a sustainable and cost effective manner. When it comes to Dronamics, their economics are very promising, and potential users of Dronamics would benefit from quick and efficient cargo deliveries. As one of Dronamics' latest strategic investors, SDF will be working closely to support the ongoing growth of the company through the UAE and globally.”
With funding from SDF venture capital division, Dronamics, which is the world’s first cargo drone airline to have a license to operate in Europe, and has until now been concentrating on Europe and Australia, is a step closer to also creating a UAE-based joint venture. This would increase its network scope and support in creating a UAE hub to serve the Middle East and North Africa. “SDF shall, through the establishment of a manufacturing and operations JV, become a main partner in the UAE-based joint venture with additional significant investment,” the release reveals.
Svilen Rangelov, Co-Founder and CEO at Dronamics, said: “The investment from SDF, Founders Factory, Speedinvest, and Eleven Capital is a strong validation of our goal to bring our cargo drone solution to more people and businesses around the world. Their confidence in Dronamics confirms the strength of our business model and we are excited to continue growing and achieving success with the support of our investment partners.”
Cathay Pacific Group premiers Hong Kong air-sea connectivity
Together with terminal operator Cathay Pacific Services Ltd. (CPSL), Cathay Pacific Cargo (Cathay Pacific Group) has established the country’s first intermodal cargo operations with upstream acceptance at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA)’s Logistics Park (developed by the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK)), in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) of the Chinese Mainland. In a pilot scheme, Hong Kong Regulated Agent freight forwarders that have had their application of Supplementary Pages to Regulated Agent Security Program (RASP) accepted by the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (CAD), can bring their shipments to the HKIA Logistics Park in Dongguan. There, the cargo is security-screened then built up and accepted as air cargo before being loaded onto ships. Those ships travel to a secured pier at HKIA, where their load of pallets and ULDs can be towed directly to a waiting Cathay Pacific aircraft for export. The result: less costs, greater process and time efficiencies, and better reliability. The pilot scheme’s base will migrate to a permanent facility from 2025, and imports from HKIA to the GBA will also soon be made possible.
Cissy Chan, Executive Director, Commercial of AAHK, said: “The HKIA Logistics Park, with sea-air intermodal connectivity to HKIA, aims to reinforce HKIA’s role as the international air cargo hub in the GBA. The initiative brings our extensive air network, enormous handling capacity, and efficient services to the doorstep of the air cargo customers in the GBA, contributing to the supply chain and economic development of the region.”
CPSL Chief Operating Officer, Mark Watts stated: “We have been actively engaged in the downstream trials of the service over the past year and are delighted to be the first CTO to have provided full upstream acceptance of intermodal cargo in Dongguan. By extending our air cargo handling services to Dongguan, we are able to offer more choice and more value-added services for our customers, as part of our vision to become the world’s most customer-centric air cargo terminal operator.”
Cathay Pacific Director Cargo, Tom Owens, stated: “We would like to extend our thanks to our friends at Bolloré, Cargo Link, DHL Global Forwarding, Dimerco, and Yusen Logistics, who helped to realize the viability and benefits of this program with trials using real cargo shipments. The HKIA Logistics Park offers a cost-effective and efficient end-to-end solution to our freight forwarders and shippers in moving cargo to and from the GBA. Our customers can benefit from competitive rates on screening, palletization, and terminal charges.”
Truckers can reLAX at Menzies in LAX
Thanks to Nallian’s Truck Visit Management Solution, truckers coming to deliver and pick-up cargo at Menzies Aviation at Los Angeles Airport, no longer have to cope with congestion. Following an 8-week implementation, freight forwarders and trucking companies can now reserve timeslots at the ground handler’s warehouse. Truckers self-register in English or Spanish at the Digital Desk – an iPad installed in the registration area. The information is relayed onto a large screen in the warehouse and at the front desk, giving the GHA a complete overview of operations.
Petr Cizek, General Manager, explains: “We used to have no visibility on who would be coming when to pick up or drop off goods. Trucks would show up unannounced, which created waiting times. […] We selected Nallian's solution after carefully studying the market, [having] seen how the solution worked at Brussels Airport. […] Given the challenging situation at the LAX cargo hub, the implementation in this station was considered a solid test case. It has proven to be very successful. Today, more than 40 parties are using the system, representing 80% of the cargo volume handled.” Smaller companies are also starting to book time slots. He confirms: “we are delivering a better service to our customers. It is my most important indicator for success: our customers no longer complain.”
Lily Mejia, Front Desk Operator, says: “The system makes my work a lot easier. I now have a clear overview of who is coming and when. I spend less time on administration and discussions with drivers, and can focus on ensuring the continuity of the flow and handling visits that require special attention instead.”
Katie Griley, President of Griley Airfreight, adds: “When Menzies started using the system, we immediately saw the impact. We believe in the system because we have seen it work, and it works well.”
Jean Verheyen, CEO of Nallian, comments: “With our Truck Visit Management Solution, we wish to empower ground handling agents and cargo warehouse operators to make optimal use of their resources – dock door and staff – and deliver their customers a better service. The implementation at Menzies illustrates that our solution not only works in a community setting but also for individual companies who want to digitalize and optimize their freight handover process. Menzies is such a company, and we are proud to accompany them on their digitalization journey."
Nashville Notes Part 1
One pressing issue that was discussed in a panel at AfA's Annual General Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, on 13FEB22, was the USA’s upcoming security deadline: From NOV23 onwards, all export cargo accepted for freighter transport, must be screened – a requirement that has been in place since JUN21, but up until now the sector has been working with a limited amount of TSA alternative security measures which are set to expire at the end of OCT23, according to the TSA, and will not be renewed.
Brandon Fried, Executive Director, AfA, emphasized what all panelists agreed on: that there was only one viable method for these screening requirements, and that was that the Certified Cargo Standard Security Screening Program (CCSSSP):
“All security programs across the various segments of the air cargo supply chain need to be aligned. Industry needs TSA's strong support in messaging the shippers that the CCSSSP – which would regulate shippers tendering cargo that is challenging to screen using existing approved security methods – is the only realistic available option to continue to move their cargo.”
The panelists urged the TSA to ensure that sufficient preparation and communication with shippers would be carried out by the TSA prior to 01NOV23, to enable CCSSSP implementation. Also, the TSA should update and coordinate the CCSSSP acceptance and handling elements into the various freighter security programs, since the current CCSSSP was only in place for passenger air carriers since its inception in 2009. Nevertheless, the Certified Cargo Standard Security Screening Program (CCSSSP) is a practical supply chain solution, which provides security while ensuring the flow of commerce.
Three other points were brought up: the fact that the TSA's proposed Secure Packing Facility (SPF) initiative was not a viable solution for shippers or air freight forwarders who tender cargo that is difficult to screen for freighter export. Then, the fact that the TSA should update the regulatory framework to include freighters, and thirdly, a revision of the definition of what a “shipper” is and does, to align with the air cargo business today. Much has changed in air cargo over the past two decades.
Nashville Notes Part 2
Emissions reporting is the way forward towards NetZero, according to Raft Chief Growth Officer, Lionel Van der Walt, Chief Growth Officer. Raft is a digital freight forwarding platform which deploys cutting-edge technologies to automate and optimize freight forwarder operations with regard to Accounts Payable, Pre-Alerts, Customs, to Emissions Tracking. Digital solutions are the best reporting sources, the CGO maintained, and not just to satisfy growing pressure from shippers for more detailed emissions data from forwarders. Each forwarder should decide which is the best emissions reporting method to best suit their business and their customers’ needs. Speaking on the 'Sustainability Challenges in the Growing Air Cargo Industry' panel at Nashville’s AirCargo 2023, he pointed to the European Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) initiative which had been launched on 21APR21, and would come into proper effect in 2024, with companies having to ensure publication of their previous year emissions in 2025.
“The rapidly changing legislation landscape, coupled with growing demands from shippers and consumers across the globe, means that companies of all sizes in the supply chain must focus on sustainability, and it is the responsible thing to do,” said van der Walt. "Raft is focused on serving freight forwarders by way of automating operational pain-points, which is why we are addressing emissions reporting for them. We have developed a digital solution working with partners such as Pledge, which is scalable and will ensure forwarders are both compliant and able to support their customers to make more carbon-efficient supply chain decisions."
Jennifer Frigger-Latham, AfA Board Member and Vice-President Sales and Marketing, and Owner of EMO Trans Inc., which has partnered with Raft for its emissions reporting, said: “As a long time Board Of Director member of the AfA, I am excited to continue the sustainability discussion after having founded the Sustainability Committee ahead of our last conference. As this conversation becomes an endemic part of what it is to manage supply chains, I am equally excited on the private sector side to be partnering with Raft to offer our customers these essential calculations."
Andy Richardson, Global Chief Information Officer, EMO Trans inc., added: “There is an increasingly large demand for very clear and specific Environmental Social Governance information per shipment. Specifically, this means supplying detailed data on carbon emissions for all modes and routes. [With Raft] it's now 'business as usual' for us to automatically provide the transparency our customers need.”
One hundred horse stalls from VRR to Jettainer
When it comes to quality horse transports, Jettainer isn’t horsing around and now owns an impressive 100 horse stall provided by VRR over the course of the years since collaboration began in 2010. They are part of Jettainer’s overall fleet of roughly 100,000 ULDs spread across 500 locations around the globe. Surely, they must take up a lot of storage space? Well, those HMR stalls that were sourced from VRR until 2019, certainly require room when not in use, but those after 2019 are collapsible HML versions and hence can not only be folded down for lower-deck transportation on return flights, but also stored in pallet stacks. The majority of Jettainer’s horse stalls are leased to its parent company, Lufthansa Cargo AG, which has in turn also provided valuable feedback to VRR which has gone into improved product design over the years.
Ben Lakerveld, Sales Manager of VRR, declared: “We feel very proud that Jettainer is still coming to VRR for its containers after more than a decade of doing business. They deliver top-of-the-line services, so we have to deliver top-of-the-line containers. To do so, we also have to keep listening and innovating.”
Marcus Bezold, Head of Global Handling Performance Management at Lufthansa Cargo AG, said: “Every year, our customers fly a four-digit number of horses to all corners of the world. We appreciate Jettainer and VRR's horse container solutions because they guarantee comfortable travel with minimum stress and maximum safety.”
Frank Mühlenkamp, Director Global Operations at Jettainer, explained. “The collaboration with VRR is exceptional and their products meet latest standards. What we like about the collapsible horse stall. is that it cuts down the cost of empty ULD repositioning without compromising the well-being of the horses. It really helps us and our customers maximize fleet utilization.”
China Airlines opts for IBS Software’s iCargo platform
Leading Taiwanese air carrier, China Airlines, and IBS Software signed an agreement on Valentine's Day, to deploy the software-as-a-solution provider’s iCargo cargo management system. iCargo will transform China Airline’s processes as it shifts from its existing cargo system to the new single platform from which it can steer sales, import, and export operations, air mail handling, as well as revenue accounting. Its optimally automated digital technology enables maximum efficiency and creates sales management opportunities. The decision to adopt one of the industry’s leading cargo systems also places China Airlines at the forefront in terms of digitalization within the APAC region’s air carrier companies.
Eddy Liu, Senior Vice President of Cargo, China Airlines, stated: “China Airlines cargo has been endeavoring to modernize our digital capabilities for years. However, we see the evolutional change in digital sales and operations since COVID, and I believed SaaS is the right solution we are looking for. We expect to build up a strong partnership with IBS Software and to realize faster time-to-market for our products and services without compromising compliance of data integrity.”
Gautam Shekar, SVP and Region Head APAC and Middle East at IBS Software, declared: “As a pioneer of APAC air cargo market and one of the heavyweight cargo players, China Airlines has extensive experience transporting special cargo and remains the carrier of choice for international transportation partners. We're honored to be selected by China Airlines to support its growth journey. This agreement aligns with IBS Software's long-term strategy to further expand our presence in the exciting APAC market and help local customers modernize and add value to their cargo proposition.”
In other news this week, IBS Software also became a sponsor of the WAL Mentorship Program, thus helping to make a change to a number of women’s careers within aviation and logistics.
Gebrüder Weiss opens Albanian office
Gebrüder Weiss has expanded its network in the West Balkans by opening a new branch in Tirana, the capital city of Albania. It brings the company’s representation in the West Balkans to five countries as Albania joins Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia in the Gebrüder Weiss network and bridges the gap between its Montenegrin and North Macedonian neighbors. The location, opened on 06FEB23, strengthens transport connections in South-Eastern Europe and enables direct connections between Albania and the European Union. With growth forecast at 3% for this year, Albania is recovering well from the pandemic. It imports mainly food, machinery, chemicals, and textiles, and has solid exports to the European Union, following a free trade agreement signed in 2009. These include clothing and food, iron and steel, and other raw and construction materials.
Thomas Moser, Director and Regional Manager Black Sea/CIS at Gebrüder Weiss, explained: “There has been a sharp rise in transports to and from Albania over the past decade, with the majority of imported goods coming from the European Union. It is our aim with the location in Tirana, the country's most important transport hub, to offer customers from industry and trade in the EU direct connections to and from Albania.”
Dorina Islami, Country Manager of Albania at Gebrüder Weiss, said: “The first step will involve us expanding the existing groupage freight line between North Macedonia (Skopje) and Albania in both directions. There are also plans to establish new connections to Albania's main trading partner, Italy.”
Qatar Airways Cargo is coming up roses
Valentine's Day has been and gone, and with it, the annual peak in flowers that Qatar Airways Cargo is no stranger to, having been in the flower business for more than a decade. This year, it carried more than 4,000 tons of flowers to destinations all across the globe, during the space of just two weeks. The flowers mainly come from Latin America (Ecuador and Colombia) and Africa (Uganda and Kenya), and are headed to five major international destinations: USA, Amsterdam (for distribution across Europe), Australia, the Middle East and Japan.
During the peak, Qatar Airways Cargo increases its flight frequencies. This year, 10 additional B777 freighter flights flew from Nairobi to Liege, and another 10 additional flights took off from Quito to Amsterdam and Miami, on top of the regular cargo and passenger flights. Planning also included a strong road feeder network to bring shipments from European airports to Amsterdam and on to key destinations. Over in Nairobi, Qatar Airways Cargo is the largest cargo operator when it comes to Valentine’s Day exports, and one that has proven its expertise in handling this fragile and perishable cargo in the best possible manner. The airline invested in an elaborate temperature-controlled forwarding system to guarantee that flowers arrive fresh at their final destination.
Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways Cargo commented: “In a constantly evolving market, Qatar Airways Cargo has always been able to improve its offering to meet new needs. The launch of The Next Generation, which is accompanied by a new vision of business, is proof of this. Today, in the very demanding period of Valentine's Day, we are proud to put our expertise and efficiency at the service of our customers.”
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