Helsinki’s first steps towards becoming an eCommerce hub
Estonia’s cross-border ecommerce logistics provider, PostPlus Group BV, founded in 2019 by former executives of the Estonian Post and leading European logistics companies, has begun on its aspirations to put Helsinki-Vantaa airport on the map as an ecommerce hub. The trigger for this move, comes from increasing demand for direct ecommerce connections to Finland as Gunnar Aru, CEO of PostPlus, explained: “Our Asian partners have been long expressing interest in direct ecommerce injection to Finland, with Helsinki Vantaa airport having excellent global connections provided by world class airlines. So, we thought we need to step in and build the missing bits and pieces on the ground to untap the potential of Finland´s ecommerce market.”
In cooperation with ACR Cargo Center, who are responsibility for handling the ecommerce shipments and arranging their last-mile dispatch, two Estonian IT providers (Qstep for the ecommerce cargo handling on parcel level, and Feeport for digital customs clearance for low-value ecommerce imports from outside the EU), PostPlus therefore set up the process, and at the start of May, the first shipment of 222 ecommerce parcels landed at Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Within hours after arrival, the shipments were ready for pick-up and last mile delivery through established Finnish transportation company, Matkahuolto.
Samuli Naskali, Managing Director of ASR Cargo Center, explained that the company had long considered branching out into ecommerce: “The pandemic taught us some lessons about the need to look into new opportunities. So, when PostPlus contacted us about direct injection of ecommerce at Helsinki Vantaa airport, we realized this is one of such opportunities to ensure our sustainable growth. When we received full backing from our software provider, Qstep, to be able to handle ecommerce data in an automated manner in our cargo handling system, we felt confident taking on this challenge.”
Gunnar Aru concluded: “We hope that our new delivery proposition demonstrated to our partners in Asia, USA and wider Europe that Helsinki-Vantaa airport and the local partner network that we built on the ground can be a viable new logistics route for cross-border ecommerce to be injected directly into Finnish market. We want to stress that we are open to any international business interested in bringing ecommerce to Finland. We believe the competition will bring additional value to the end clients as well as improve the quality of the delivery service among current ecommerce logistics providers”.
Etihad calling on AI to maximize operations
Etihad Cargo has been working together with Singapore-based logistics technology provider, Speedcargo Technologies, since signing a joint proof-of-concept agreement in 2021 (CFG reported). In the meantime, the two companies have successfully trialed three AI-powered products: Amplifi, Cargo Eye, and Assemble, designed to boost efficiency, digitize and standardize cargo handling across Etihad Cargo's network, and enhance service levels for the carrier's customers and partners. These three solutions will now be launched in the airline’s Singapore operations where the end-to-end cargo handling trials originally took place having already been deployed and used by its ground handling partners, with the plan to expand their use across Etihad Cargo's global network of ground handling partners over the next few months. A pilot program has already been launched to implement these solutions in Frankfurt. More stations are to follow.
Of the three solutions, Amplifi optimizes each flight’s cargo loads, by dynamically calculating the available capacity based on booked cargo, aircraft type, and cargo offer. System-generated ULD level load plans support the airline in maximizing its flight load and significantly reduces the risk of overbookings. Cargo Eye, which is powered both by Microsoft's IOT Edge solutions and Speedcargo's proprietary algorithms, is a scalable, modular system that captures cargo dimensions and volume data. It enables the immediate digital capture of cargo as it enters the carrier's ground handling stations, thus offering real-time cargo information which can be shared for load planning, build-up planning and forward operations. Assemble can be used by ground handlers for simpler planning and build-up of ULDs based on Amplifi-generated load plans. All three will lead to more efficient space usage, improved operational efficiencies, and enhanced service levels.
Martin Drew, Senior Vice President – Global Sales & Cargo, said: “The recently completed trials of Speedcargo's AI-powered solutions have demonstrated it is possible to improve cargo capacity utilization across Etihad Cargo's fleet and standardize cargo acceptance and build-up processes to improve the consistency and quality of cargo handling at stations within Etihad Cargo's network. Etihad Cargo, with the launch of these AI solutions, is creating an information-rich network that connects airline operations and ground handling for better planning and decision-making. Creating digital audit trails of how cargo is received and handled will benefit Etihad Cargo's customers by providing a more seamless end-to-end experience and improving the productivity and efficiency of planners and ground handling partners, with the ability to handle multiple flights simultaneously.”
Cargo iQ, FIATA and ASA join forces
Excellent result from Cargo iQ's recent board meeting: FIATA's Director General, Stéphane Graber, ASA's Director General, Fabio Gamba, have agreed to collaborate with Cargo iQ in a joint effort to drive global standards across all sectors in air cargo. The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) and the Airport Services Association (ASA) will attend all Cargo iQ board meetings as observers. Together with Cargo iQ’s board members, they will have access to all information about Cargo iQ and how its members are actively improving their quality standards, and will develop the co-operation between forwarders, handlers, and airlines, to achieve common standards and better quality.
Lothar Moehle, Executive Director, Cargo iQ, explained: “Cargo iQ – an interest group strongly supported by IATA – shares lots of similar goals with FIATA and ASA, as all three of us strive to improve standards, data use, and processes in line with shippers' requirements for a solid and objective quality certification program. So, why not work together instead of reinventing the wheel? We look forward to continuing the dialogue about how we can help further each other's ambitions and progress. This is the start of a strong co-operation for the future.”
Stéphane Graber, Director General, FIATA, representing around 40,000 international forwarders and logistics firms, commented: “FIATA is thrilled to be participating in the board meetings of Cargo iQ, and to join with the group and ASA to drive global standards. This collaboration is a key initiative in the optimization of air cargo processes for all logistics supply chain stakeholders involving air freight. Along with these other key stakeholders, FIATA's priority is the continuous improvement of operational processes and representing the widespread and global voice of freight forwarders in a collective, global effort.”
Fabio Gamba, Director General of ASA (on its way to becoming an IATA-recognized entity. It has 50 global aviation industry members, thus representing a total of 2.3 million aircraft ground crew), stated: “This initiative from Cargo iQ to offer FIATA and ASA an observer seat at their board is spot on. The cargo value chain is a very complex one, and only a truly holistic approach, involving all the major stakeholders, will work. We at ASA are delighted to join, all the more so as the importance of cargo, already central in the operations of handling agents, has demonstrated during the pandemic how crucial to the world a seamless and well-performing cargo platform is. Together we'll endeavor to keep it that way.”
NeX eCommerce Supply Chain Logistics Network launched
As eCommerce continues to increase as an air cargo industry segment bringing with it its own challenges, it makes sense to do what aviation logistics specialists, Neutral Air Partner (NAP), and the ATEM Group have done – namely come together to launch the NeX eCommerce Supply Chain Logistics Network. It aims to drive the interests of the eCommerce supply chain logistics industry to deliver flawless omni-channel fulfillment operations, cross-border transportation, distribution, return logistics, and end-to-end e-supply chain management. NeX is global platform on which eCommerce logistics professionals and suppliers can come together (among them: highly specialized supply chain logistics experts, including express couriers, postal brokers/operators, linehaul consolidators, first & last mile operators, gateway customs brokers, return/reverse logisticians, resellers/wholesalers, e-fulfillment providers, e-commerce marketplaces, 3PLs & distribution providers, tech and solution providers, consultants, carriers, e-tailers, and shippers) to streamline the logistics process with strategic tools and services designed specifically for e-commerce supply chains.
Christos Spyrou, CEO of Neutral Air Partner, illustrated: “NeX is an innovative platform that will revolutionize the eCommerce supply chain industry. We are proud to partner with the ATEM Group to create the most advanced network of supply chain experts. NeX will provide members with the tools and resources they need to stay competitive in the ever-evolving eCommerce landscape. NeX members benefit from the global reach of e-commerce experts, building trust in a complex sector, express mail and freight buying power, advanced e-logistics community tools, omnichannel network operations, global contracts with carriers and postal operators, volume incentive schemes, and industry recognition of excellence.”
Rudee Bertie, CEO of the ATEM Group, commented: “We are excited to join forces with Neutral Air Partner to launch NeX. Our mission is to provide a global platform to engage with eCommerce logistics professionals and suppliers to the trade, sharing a passion for business excellence and being committed to delivering higher levels of sophistication. We look forward to helping businesses of all sizes succeed in the eCommerce supply chain industry. NeX Solutions include end-to-end e-logistics services, order fulfillment, first & last-mile delivery, reverse/return logistics, 3PL and distribution, B2C custom clearance, gateway cross-border services, linehaul consolidation, airfreight, mail, & express.”
Mourad Aoun, CEO of The NET Global, Founding Member of NeX eCommerce, summarized: “NEX is created as a unique e-commerce eco-system, bringing together all players from different sides of the wall to a round table that will innovate and evolve to contribute to the growth of the eCommerce industry, globally.”
The Black Swan is white, and had its first flight
It has finally happened. Over at Balchik airport in Bulgaria, Dronamics successfully completed the inaugural flight of its flagship aircraft, the Black Swan – which is actually a smart white in real life. This is the point the two Rangelov brothers have been working towards ever since they first birthed the idea of a cargo drone when discussing how to get Bulgarian cheese over the Netherlands, where one of them was studying aerospace engineering at the time. That was around 9 years ago. And now the world’s first cargo drone airline has taken to the air for the first time. Skillfully operated remotely by two experienced commercial airline pilots stationed at the Dronamics ground control station, the successful flight test serves as validation for the company's licensed cargo drone technology, and paves the way for upcoming commercial cargo flights in Europe. Targeted commodity segments best suited to what the Black Swan has to offer, are ecommerce, pharma, spare parts, and perishables. In each case, the drone airline offers a fast and cost-effective solution to meet evolving consumer needs. The latter being the aim of the company: The Rangelov brothers were driven by the ambition of developing a faster, more environmentally friendly, and economically viable method of delivering goods. “Dronamics is on a mission to enable same day delivery for everyone, everywhere. This significant milestone is the culmination of months of ground testing and subscale flights,” the press release reads.
The historic flight signified a take-off in more ways than one – not just the aircraft leaving the grown, but also excess facial hair being lifted off the brothers’ faces. Both had vowed not to shave until the first flight. Thus, following the success at the airport, it was off to the barber’s for a clean shave, resulting in two very different looks. Quite possibly, they decide on another target and start growing their beards again.
Konstantin Rangelov, Co-Founder and CTO of Dronamics, commented: “Since the day we first imagined what the Black Swan aircraft could look like, we’ve worked towards this flight. Today we’ve made history and are proud to have demonstrated the validity of our drone technology.“
Svilen Rangelov, Co-Founder and CEO of Dronamics, added: “It’s taken an enormous amount of hard work, belief and drive to prove that what we envisioned works. We can now focus on the next step, the roll-out of our commercial operations, and we couldn’t be more excited.”
Qatar Airways Cargo and Envirotainer
Qatar Airways Cargo and Envirotainer’s partnership dates back to 2014 when it comes to the ULD company’s active RAP and RKN pharma containers. The airline approved Envirotainer’s newest temperature-controlled ULDs, the Releye® RLP and RAP solutions in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The two companies have now pledged to further enhance customer experience at the same time promoting sustainability when it comes to pharma shipments using Releye®. Alone the adoption of a Releye® solution anywhere within the far-reaching global network that both companies offer, CO2 emissions for those shipments can be reduced by up to 90% compared to other solutions. Thanks to precise temperature control throughout the entire cargo journey, the shipments arrive in top-quality condition. Qatar Airways Cargo and Envirotainer are committed to investing in the latest technologies to meet the needs of the life sciences sector, which “is poised to make a long-term positive impact on customers and the industry for the future”, the press release states.
Miguel Rodriguez, Head of Cargo Products at Qatar Airways Cargo, said: “I am thrilled to announce the reinforcement of our strategic partnership with Envirotainer, a global leader in temperature-controlled air transportation solutions. This collaboration marks a significant milestone for Qatar Airways Cargo as we continue to enhance our capabilities in delivering pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive cargo worldwide. At Qatar Airways Cargo, we understand the criticality of maintaining the cold chain and ensuring that pharmaceuticals reach their destination in optimal conditions. By joining forces with Envirotainer, we can offer our customers seamless access to their industry-leading containers, which are specifically designed to meet the stringent requirements of the pharmaceutical industry.”
Akos Balkanyi, Global Key Account Manager, stated: “Through the optimization of our operations and investment in cutting-edge solutions such as the Releye® units, we are actively reducing our environmental impact and contributing to a greener future reducing up to 90% our CO2 emissions. We are excited about this collaboration and the positive impact it will have on our customers and the industry as a whole.”
WFS cool cargo termainal in BLR is officially open
Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) is the latest addition to the combined SATS and WFS global network offering air cargo logistics, ground handling and technical services in over 200 locations across more than 20 countries. In the case of BLR, it is an air cargo terminal and cold chain facility that has now gone into operation – a second Indian air cargo terminal for SATS Group which already operates the air cargo terminal in Mumbai.
Worldwide Flight Services (WFS), which was recently acquired by SATS Group, was awarded a 15-year license to operate the international cargo terminal and cold chain facility back in June 2022, in partnership with Bengaluru airport operator Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL). With the official opening now, WFS takes on responsibility for the development, operation, management, and maintenance of the international cargo terminal and the airport’s dedicated cold chain facility, for which it is the exclusive operator. In figures, the aim is to double the terminal’s annual throughput to more than 250,000 million tons, and where the cold chain facility is concerned, the two companies plan to expand its capacity in two phases – first to 80,000 million tons, then 150,000 million tons – offering customers with international value-added and end-to-end air cargo services.
John Batten, CEO of Europe, Middle East, Africa & Asia (EMEAA), WFS, said, “WFS has a wealth of experience creating and operating specialist pharma hubs at major airports across our network in Europe, North America, and Asia. India is the sixth-largest global economy and the single-largest provider of generic drugs globally. We are confident that we can add value to the Indian air cargo industry by introducing world-class practices, safety and security standards, sustainable practices and operational excellence to drive productivity improvements and achieve greater efficiency to enhance the Government of India’s National Air Cargo Policy and achieve related ambitions.”
Diogo Elias appointed CP of Corporate Development at Avianca Cargo
Diogo Elias, Vice President of Corporate Development of Avianca Cargo, said: “Joining Avianca Cargo is an honor and an exciting challenge in my professional career. I am very happy to be part of this talented, successful, and top-level team, and contribute to the leadership of the company in the region. I’m eager to share my knowledge, but also learn from Avianca Cargo and continue driving the growth of this sector.”
Avianca Cargo’s announcement on 02JUN23 pointed to Diogo Elias’ 20+ years of experience in leading commercial and operational strategies and new businesses in the air cargo sector and different industries. In fact, he spent more than eight years at LATAM, of which the majority were in Latam Cargo positions. This will stand him in good stead for his new responsibilities which include leading strategic projects and continuing to drive the company’s ongoing transformation. Diogo Elias holds a Master’s degree in Business, Operations Management, and Statistical Modeling from the University of São Paulo as well as an MBA from the University of Michigan.
Gabriel Oliva, CEO of Avianca Cargo, commented: “I am pleased to welcome Diogo to our company, it is a pleasure for us to have him onboard. With his wide experience in the sector, Diogo comes to reinforce Avianca Cargo's transformation journey towards growth and strengthened leadership in the region, focused on adding value to our customers. I am sure that together we will continue delivering fantastic results.”
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