Boeing 737 freighter conversion line coming to India
Just weeks after India was in the news regarding Air India’s mega-order (CFG reported: https://www.cargoforwarder.eu/2023/02/14/competitors-airbus-and-boeing-get-huge-order-from-air-india-new/) and where Modi attempted to lure Airbus to set up an Indian production line, it is in fact Boeing that is going ahead with line plans. On 10MAR23, Boeing announced on LinkedIn that it had selected India’s largest Airframe MRO to create a freighter conversion line in Hyderabad: “India’s first Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) line is on the way! We are proud to work with GMR Aero Technic to establish the new BCF line as we continue supporting India’s aspiration to become an aviation and aerospace hub for the region. The cooperation with GMR Aero Technic is a testimony of the maturity of Indian Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) capabilities in the country. This also supports our anticipated growth of the cargo sector in the region as our Commercial Market Outlook 2022 expects India’s air cargo growth to average 6.3% annually, driven by the country’s manufacturing and e-commerce sectors, including its Make in India initiative.”
The 5-year contract looks to produce more than 30 737-BCF conversions for both India’s domestic as well as the international markets. Growing national e-commerce demand and smartphone/electronics production, led to the decision on local conversion, according to Boeing’s India president, Salil Gupte. He also quoted the company’s demand forecast of 1,700+ passenger-to-freighter conversions expected over the next 20 years, of which 600 will come from Asia. “So, it is only fitting that we have the capability to have a line to make those freighters here in India, not just for India, but for the region and for the world,” he concluded.
Ashok Gopinath, CEO and Accountable Manager at GMR Aero Technic, commented: “We at GMR Aero Technic are extremely excited for this opportunity to do something ‘beyond the traditional MRO services’, and be part of transformation story of Indian Aviation Ecosystem, in partnership with, Boeing. In our MRO journey of over 12 years, this is the most significant milestone,” emphasizing that this project was not only a “First in India”, but also only the fourth non-US location (after UK, Costa Rica, and China), to be entrusted with the highly complex, precision engineering task. “We thank Boeing for bringing the freighter conversion program, BCF, to India and selecting GMR Aero Technic through a global competitive qualifying process, to be their partner in the project for global market. We look forward to working with Boeing and operationalizing the program at the earliest, to take the Best of India to the world.”
Nippon Cargo shares to transfer ANA
“Becoming the comprehensive air cargo company of choice,” as its LinkedIn claim states, is becoming reality after media reported that All Nippon Airways Holdings (ANA) would be acquiring all shares in Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA). The Japanese shipping line, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), which owns 1978-founded Nippon Cargo Airlines 100% since 2010, stated operational costs as the reason for its agreement to sell the cargo airline to its Japanese competitor: “The continuous introduction of new aircraft to expand the operation and maintenance system, and the continuous training of personnel engaged in operation and maintenance required a considerable expenditure. In the highly volatile business environment of airfreight transportation, NCA has been facing challenges in expanding its business scale at a level that is commensurate with such costs.” The begs the question as to what will happen with other shipping line airlines that were founded more recently.
Nippon Cargo published the following statement on its website: “Dear valued customers and partners, First of all, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to your great contribution to our business. As reported in the media, on 7th Match 2023, our parent company Nippon Yusen Kaisha (hereafter NYK) agreed with ANA HOLDINGS INC. (hereafter ANAHD) to transfer all of our stocks. We are currently expanding our business, but both NYK and ANAHD agreed that it would be more efficient to achieve tasks such as renewal of fleets, and training of Maintenance / Flight Operations, by joining ANA group, so that we can provide high qualified and competitive transportation services. NYK and ANAHD will keep their discussion aiming the transfer of our stocks by 1st of October 2023, but we will continue our business as is, and keep on providing safe and high-quality services to our valued customers and partners. Your kind understanding is highly appreciated. Thank you.” Its fleet of eight Boeing 747-8 freighters and five 747-400 freighters, operated by ASL and Atlas Air, will shift to ANA, which gains considerable weighting as an airline overall. In 2021, the cargo transported on ANA and NCA combined, would have placed it as 9th largest airline worldwide.
GEODIS acquires cool wheels
GEODIS announced this week, that it had concluded its acquisition of the German temperature-controlled road delivery service provider, trans-o-flex. Regulatory approval had been given, enabling GEODIS to establish itself in the front row of healthcare logistics services across Europe. Marie-Christine Lombard, Chief Executive Officer of GEODIS, commented: “The acquisition of trans-o-flex, the largest temperature-controlled distribution network in Germany specializing in healthcare, accelerates our growth in a key market for GEODIS. We want to enable trans-o-flex to consolidate its market position in Germany and expand it in the largest European countries. It forms part of our ambition to develop our global end-to-end logistics solutions in support of our customers’ growth and geographical expansion.” Founded in 1971, trans-o-flex specializes in temperature-controlled (between 2 to 8° C and 15 to 25° C) pharmaceutical goods and express premium delivery for clients the healthcare sector as well as cosmetics, consumer electronics and other sensitive goods industries. Around 2,000 staff are employed at 77 network and warehouse locations in Germany and Austria. GEODIS communicated that trans-o-flex would retain independence, headed by Wolfgang P. Albeck as CEO, who also becomes a member of GEODIS’ Executive Board Europe. He reports to GEODIS’ European management led by Thomas Kaurs, and a supervisory board consisting of Chairwoman, Marie-Christine Lombard, and Deputy Chairman, Christoph Schoeller.
GEODIS’ strategic acquisition strengthens its German footprint. trans-o-flex’s time-definite capabilities complement the company’s Freight Forwarding and Contract Logistics business within the country, which has a revenue value of almost €1,5 billion and employs over 3,400 staff.
Christoph Schoeller, Deputy Chairman of trans-o-flex, stated: “We are pleased that trans-o-flex can now start a new, international growth phase. In order to ensure continuity, the entire trans-o-flex management will remain in office. Together we will continue to work on the success story of the Group.”
WestJet Cargo is actively ramping up
Anyone following WestJet Cargo’s LinkedIn page with its distinctive graffiti-font posts, will regularly notice new team members being announced as the airline grows its cargo expertise. Kirsten de Bruijn, Executive Vice-President Cargo, is hand-picking the best from the industry with the right mindset to establish a customer-focused freighter set-up. She explains: “WestJet Cargo is at a crucial stage of development. We work in a people-driven business and have mastered the ability to humanize our business. Our team is experienced, agile, and confident. We use these skills to serve our customers and guarantee a reliable and consistent experience that exceeds their expectations. The WestJet Cargo team is dedicated to our vision, we work hard, and we have a lot of fun."
While WestJet Cargo looks back on more than twenty years of cargo services, 2023 will be the year it takes off with its own Boeing 737-800NG freighter fleet, in long-term partnership with GTA Group. As Charles Duncan, WestJet, Executive Vice-President, Cargo and President, Swoop, at the time said: “WestJet Cargo will bring customers new competitive options, and together with GTA we will disrupt the industry, providing more air freight capacity to domestic cargo customers who depend on reliable and on-time performance.” More capacity comes in the shape of a carefully selected network: “Each location is extensively researched before being added to the network. The strategically chosen 50-destination network has recently been expanded to include Honolulu, Los Angeles and Orlando. This is in addition to a comprehensive list of Canadian stations, with relevant connectivity to Europe, the USA, Caribbean, Mexico and Japan. WestJet Cargo is committed to meeting the needs of the Canadian and International markets.” WestJet Cargo team is also accommodating to a number of different commodities, including medical supplies, perishables, mail, and blood samples. It is unusual in the number of pets if carries: a total of 11,000 in 2022 often directly from private customers as opposed to forwarding contacts.
Wiremind and Qatar Airways Cargo become digital partners
Wiremind was the successful party in Qatar Airways Cargo's recent tender for digital support in its Next Generation Revenue Management vision. It has signed a multi-year contract and will be providing the airline with three solutions from cargo product suite. The first is Wiremind's Revenue Management system, which offers advanced demand forecasts and assists the airline in optimizing entry conditions to maximize on network contribution and revenue. Solution two is Wiremind’s recently launched Overbooking module. This deploys machine learning models to forecast daily cargo show-rates and support flight analysts when it comes to defining overbooking capacities for individual flights to avoid flying partially empty on the day of departure. As the third solution, Qatar Airways Cargo will be using Wiremind's original flagship product, SkyPallet, to optimize capacity calculations throughout the booking and preparation process, ensuring maximum capacity usage and accurate quotations. Over the next few months, more than 300 Qatar Airways Cargo employees will be shown how to use the solutions, and the two companies will work together to further establish the airline's digital vision and how Wiremind's product suite can support this.
Nathanaël de Tarade, CEO of Wiremind, commented: “We are delighted that Qatar Airways Cargo has chosen individual solutions from our cargo product suite. It is testament to the fact that we were successful in addressing Qatar Airways Cargo's needs and shows that with the support and vision of CargoTech, we are on the right track to build impactful products to help the industry digitize and adopt the latest technologies. With the world's leading cargo airline now on board, we are more than proud, and we look forward to supporting Qatar Airways Cargo in shaping the air cargo industry of the future with all the opportunities that our advanced digital and data-driven machine-learning products can bring.”
Guillaume Halleux, Chief Officer Cargo at Qatar Airways Cargo, explained: “Digital processes and solutions play a fundamental role in taking Qatar Airways Cargo into The Next Generation. In Wiremind, we have found a partner that not only shares our pioneering vision of the industry, but already demonstrates key deliverables as well as the agility to grow innovative ideas together. Our ambition is to deploy the most advanced cargo revenue management solutions in the market, making full use of the valuable market and customer data that passes through our systems to ensure efficient resource use and achieve more sustainable profitability. Wiremind's unique machine-learning models offer highly promising results in this regard.”
“The Art of Charter”
Challenge Group showcased its charter expertise in a dedicated press release recently, called ‘The art of Charter’. “What sets Challenge Group's charter operations apart from its peers, is its end-to-end operations offer, from arranging trucking at origin, to building up the cargo, loading it onto a Challenge aircraft, flying it to destination, unloading it and then delivering it by truck to its end-destination, which could also be a to-door service. Customers can track-trace their charter shipments in the same way as they would a shipment on Challenge Group's scheduled flights,” the release details, drawing attention to the way the group’s subsidiaries interact to provide complete, seamless service. Challenge Airlines together totaled 90 international charter flights last year – mainly on routes between the EU and the US, the US to the Middle East, or China to the EU. The group has made it its business promise to accept the challenge of large and heavy shipments that other might prefer not to handle, and offers a broad pallet of experience in extraordinary shipments, be they empty Energy Turbine Containers, heavy and dense Energy Rotors, or a fragile art exhibition from Doha (DOH), Qatar, to New York (JFK), for example.
Edward Micallef, General Manager of Challenge Air Cargo, points out that “Having multiple Air Operator Certificates makes Challenge Group very flexible. We use whichever option enables us to fly the shortest possible route in the interests of time, costs for the customer, and sustainability.” The latter refers to the group’s effort to avoid empty return runs wherever possible. All manner of commodities are considered and carefully planned, from oversized items to art works, energy/oil & gas equipment, music stage equipment, live animals, perishables, life-saving pharma and vaccines, automotives, and often humanitarian aid and relief goods. “Our services are available to commercial entities as well as all NGOs, government institutions, and other such organizations,” Edward Micallef explains, revealing: “The fastest charter arrangement we ever carried out, was the transport of humanitarian aid from the US to Poland, which we executed in just 48 hours. We are always on standby to assist with humanitarian charter requests, such as following the tragic earthquake situation recently in Turkey.” When disaster strikes, Challenge Group is proactive in planning slots and routes to nearby airports, so that it is ready to help at any moment.
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