World first B787 Dreamliner landing in Antarctica
… and take-off, too. Each time, flanked by a row of Norwegian flags, travelling at speed over 3,000 meters of ‘blue ice runway’ and leaving a white plume in its wake. Official videographers captured the momentous occasion, which has since been uploaded on YouTube. It was a Norse Atlantic Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner bearing the registration LN-FNC, name ‘Everglades’, and flight number N0787 [nice touch!], that literally went down in history as it landed at Troll Airfield (QAT – in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica, and owned by the Norwegian Polar Institute) on 15NOV23 at 02:01 local time. Aptly also known as ‘The Explorer's Airline’, the Norse B787 had been contracted by the Norwegian Polar Institute and air broker, Aircontact, to bring in its own and other international scientists (total 45 passengers), along with 12 tons of Antarctic exploration equipment, all of whom and which were destined for various stations in Antarctica. The flight began in Oslo on 13NOV23, flying via Cape Town in South Africa where it remained for 40 hours before continuing at 23:03 on 15NOV23 onto “the challenging Antarctic leg”.
Bjørn Tore Larsen, Founder [in MAR21!] and CEO of Norse Atlantic Airways, stated: “It is a great honor and excitement on behalf of the entire team Norse, that we have achieved together a momentous moment of landing the first 787 Dreamliner. In the spirit of exploration, we are proud to have a hand in this important and unique mission. It is a true testament to our highly trained and skilled pilots and crew, and our state-of-the-art Boeing aircraft.”
Camilla Brekke, Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, added: “The most crucial aspect is the environmental gain we can achieve by using large and modern aircraft of this type for Troll. This can help reduce overall emissions and the environmental footprint in Antarctica. Landing such a large aircraft opens up entirely new possibilities for logistics at Troll, which will also contribute to strengthening Norwegian research in Antarctica.”
Paul Erlandsson, Field Service Representative from Boeing, explained: “The 787 Dreamliner stands out for its exceptional fuel efficiency, enabling a round-trip flight from Cape Town to Antarctica without the need for refueling. This not only ensures swift turnarounds but also significantly benefits the environment by eliminating logistical complexities of transporting, storing, and handling fuel in Antarctica. Paired with the aircraft's impressive 150 cubic meters of cargo capacity distributed across three cargo holds, and a cargo loading system designed for easy handling of pallets and containers, the Dreamliner excels at meeting the demands of this mission.”
Wiremind to add Forwarder module to SkyPallet in 2024
The digital expert is preparing for the release of SkyPallet 2.0, and once this is through, its flagship software will be ready for the addition of a “long-requested”, dedicated forwarder module. Preparations together with selected forwarders and partners are already underway, to determine forwarder needs and “enhance the air cargo product to accommodate key forwarder use cases,” the release explains. The forwarder-specific workflow module is planned to be released next year.
Well-established among airlines because of its support in ensuring optimal capacity utilization, SkyPallet began gaining traction among a couple of forwarders during the pandemic, when faced with having to optimize the limited space available. Wiremind discovered that airlines and forwarders have similar needs, here, but with slight variations in their processes. “For example, when planning shipments, forwarders determine how much capacity needs to be procured from an airline, or how best to assign house airway bills across different allocations,” the release explains, going on to point out that forwarders and airlines operate different transport management systems, hence additional integration specifications were needed for SkyPallet. It lists various enhancement requirements such as not splitting house air waybills, the capability to efficiently build winged pallets, the possibility to optimize pivots, and – in future, support for the broader capacity planning process so as to accommodate consolidations and multiple allocations.
Nathanaël de Tarade, Chief Executive Officer of Wiremind Cargo, said: “We have collaborated with freight forwarder customers for many years, and they often illustrate use-case scenarios that lend themselves perfectly to becoming additional SkyPallet features. Then, during the Covid-pandemic, when the pressure to make maximum use of available capacity was at its peak, two freight forwarders actively opted to use SkyPallet to support their business processes. From their reported positive results and the many discussions we have had with a forwarder community increasingly interested in adopting digital solutions, Wiremind's mission now, is to create a freight forwarder SkyPallet version that offers dedicated functionalities to support their specific workflows.”
Joel Soares de Albuquerque, Supervisor AFF Export Gateway from Yusen Logistics, confirmed: “Since we began using SKYPALLET at our Frankfurt office last year, it has helped us drive an estimated 20% increase in capacity utilization and build planning efficiency. This has had a significant impact commercially and operationally, helping us streamline the entire process and empowering our team with a user-friendly tool to support their daily work.”
Dronamics going places in Dubai
Dronamics announced two major deals at the Dubai Airshow 2023 on 15NOV23. The first: a Black Swan Manufacturing Joint Venture (JV) plan with the Strategic Development Fund (SDF), to create the first serial production plant of its kind. SDF, currently Dronamics’ largest investor having first invested late last year, has now signed a JV term sheet. Abdulla Naser Al Jaabari, Managing Director and CEO of SDF, said: “Leveraging Dronamics' pioneering drone technology and the UAE's logistics ecosystem and advanced infrastructure, this joint venture will bring the manufacturing base of this advanced technological solution that we believe will be a game-changer within the logistics sector for the mid-mile delivery segment.”
Svilen Rangelov, Co-Founder and CEO of Dronamics, commented: “Our collaboration with SDF, an existing key strategic investor in Dronamics, reinforces our vision to provide same-day delivery for all, with the aim of leveraging the UAE's exceptional infrastructure. Together, we believe we will revolutionize the logistics and air cargo sectors, seizing the vast opportunities within the UAE and the global market.”
Christian Jens Ziehe, Executive Director, Portfolio Management and Head of Industrial Investments Portfolio at SDF, outlined: “Through the JV, we will set up a facility in the UAE to start serial production in 2025 that will have capacity to produce up to 300 Black Swan drones annually. The JV will also contribute to further development of the local supply chain within Aerospace in the UAE.”
The second was a Letter of Intent (LOI) between Dronamics and Aramex combining Dronamics' technology and Aramex's fleet management capabilities and partner on global cargo drone deliveries. Svilen Rangelov stated: “We're excited to collaborate with Aramex, integrating Dronamics' cargo drone technology to bring the transformative benefits of rapid, cost-effective, and sustainable same-day delivery to the global stage.” UAE-based Aramex – among the world’s largest logistics companies, annually moves 100 million parcels. The two will begin collaborating in the United Arab Emirates, then in other key markets such as South Africa and Australia.
Alaa Saoudi, Aramex Chief Operating Officer – Express Management, announced: “We are delighted to partner with Dronamics to explore their cargo drone capabilities within our operations. This aligns well with our continuing efforts towards harnessing innovation for enhanced operational efficiency, providing an exceptional customer experience, and minimizing our carbon footprint across the UAE and our global operations.”
Angad Singh, Aramex Global Innovation Director, confirmed: “This partnership with Dronamics adds a new element to our Future vehicle program. We hope to pilot flights with Dronamics in 2024 partnering with the broader ecosystem of regulators and enablers.”
ECS Group’s Niger Air Cargo is flying regular again
ECS Group's Niger Air Cargo (NAC) resumed its weekly B747F service from Liège (LGG), Belgium to Niger's main cargo hub, Niamey International Airport (NIM), already on 08OCT23. Its schedule had been disrupted following the military coup in Niger and the subsequent temporary closure of its airports and airspace. What makes this news special, is the fact that NAC offer the only direct full-freighter connection from Europe to Niger. Those 150+ tons of cargo capacity each month, not only serve Niger's domestic market, but also offer a cargo supply chain to neighboring Nigeria and Mali. Niger Air Cargo sets off from Liège (LGG) to Niamey (NIM) every weekend, usually carrying agricultural products, raw materials, apparel, and healthcare products. Naturally, during the pandemic, Niger Air Cargo's leased B747 was instrumental in ensuring that medical and relief goods could be brought into the country. It also arranged temporary cargo import solutions during the recent difficult circumstances. Niger Air Cargo expects to soon return to previous year volumes and predicts a stable 2024.
Adrien Thominet, Executive Chairman of ECS Group, explained: “Given that Niger is a land-locked country, functioning air cargo plays a key role in keeping supply chains running. Niger Air Cargo is still the sole provider of a full-freighter solution into Niger, and our dedicated ECS cargo team at Niamey Airport goes above and beyond to ensure that our customers – many of whom have been with us since 2011 – are reliably and professionally supported in their business processes. Demand to Niger is quickly recovering to previous year levels and looks equally promising as we head into the new year. Thanks go to our Niger Air Cargo team which continues to prove its resilience and flexibility in the face of unpredictable challenges.”
Awery has now added OBC and Courier to its portfolio
A look at Awery’s software solutions portfolio and you either need a magnifying glass or a PhD to take it all in. It seems there is no air cargo process that is not somehow covered. And yet, on 13NOV23, Awery announced another solution – this time an On-board courier management solution and Courier app designed to promote real-time shipment tracking. Courier bookings are digitalized within the OBC business management solution, which also supports shipment quotes, booking, tracking, and invoicing - all in a single platform. The shipment’s real-time journey is tracked using the mobile app. Why introduce this now? According to the press release, the latest solution “bridge[s] an industry communication gap” that Awery had recognized and sought to solve. Aside from the digitalization of the entire shipment journey, OBC providers can also use the platform to search for ticket prices, expedite email quotes with artificial intelligence, choose optimal routings, and select a courier from a comprehensive database listing each couriers’ availability status, contact details, base airport, nationality, and service quality ratings. Those responsible for the last-mile delivery process, can access and update information via a shared QR code. They can use the platform to update shippers and consignees once milestones have been met – among them the final delivery. Subsequently, billing and costing are also automated, and can be adapted by the OBC provider to include any additional charges accrued by the courier during the mission.
Vitaly Smilianets, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Awery, stated: “On-board couriers are called in when goods need to get to the final destination quickly and securely, but a lack of visibility and real-time updates on such shipments are causing unnecessary delays and uncertainty for freight forwarders, charter brokers, and shippers. Our OBC platform helps close this communication gap by automating tracking with customizable milestones – stakeholders receive shipment location updates by email following each completed milestone, which are signed off by couriers through a mobile app. The app also enables couriers to instantly update their availability and pinpoints their live location to the closest airport. All of this information is accessible on the OBC interface, allowing users to track shipments in real-time.”
Phaedra den Hertog, Customer Success Officer, Awery, commented: “As many stakeholders are involved in any one shipment, we wanted to ensure that all OBC providers can access the necessary documents and information in one centralized, easy-to-access place. The chat function allows users to contact the courier directly through platforms such as WhatsApp, and couriers can confirm shipment acceptance on these messaging services. Our software facilitates this communication while ensuring all messages are recorded and linked to the OBC platform, so it all stays tracked and easily searchable.”
Etihad Cargo announces launch of IOR
IOR stands for Instant Offer Rate (IOR) solution and is designed, in cooperation with IBS Software, to provide customers both with faster response times as well as the best rates fitting their request. The airline predicts that this tool can reduce the time need to finalize pricing decisions by up to 70%, resulting in improved efficiency, which translates into happier customers. The tool will streamline booking processes using automation. It can already generate rates in just seconds, having taken 5 elements into account: flight details, including density, departure day, direct or indirect flights, flight demand and requested services. The IOR is another milestone step in the carrier’s digital service offering which looks to enhance its online booking portal and better streamline the booking process for Etihad Cargo's partners and customers through faster response times and offer improved levels of customer service.
The release underlines that “the launch of the IOR solution is the latest feature to be added to Etihad Cargo's booking portal, following the recent addition of features enabling the booking of cats, dogs, and dangerous goods. The carrier remains committed to enhancing customer service with the development and implementation of customer-centric features and tools as part of its ongoing digitalization strategy.”
Leonard Rodrigues, Head of Revenue Management and Network Planning at Etihad Cargo, stated: “Since launching Etihad Cargo's revamped booking portal, the carrier has continued to add features that enhance the customer journey, making it easier and more intuitive for partners and customers to make bookings. By giving portal users instant access to prices based on their unique requirements, partners and customers have all the tools they need to make a booking within seconds and with the confidence their cargo will be transported across Etihad Cargo's global network safely, securely, and reliably at the most competitive price.”
WestJet Cargo and Flexport set to collaborate to Asia
Unlikely and unexpected bedfellows, this. While the two companies both pursue a creative, modern approach to business – the (airline) one is fresh and fun whereas the other has an audience predominantly made up of cynics and critics. Collaboration already began in JUL23 – prior to all the very public upheaval at Flexport in SEP23, when the current CEO was thrown out, the old one returned and promptly a number of new job contracts were no longer honored. More recently, on 02NOV23, Bloomberg brought out an article titled “Shipping Startup Flexport Is in Crisis Mode Heading Into the Holiday Season”, in the same week that Flexport announced it was acquiring bust Convoy. That said, WestJet Cargo’s counterpart at Flexport, Neel Jones Shah, Board member both at TIACA and Airblox, is a more established and less flighty figure than Flexport’s figurehead, so perhaps the worry here, is unfounded.
The aim of the collaboration is “to streamline Canadian exports and spur regional growth,” the release explains, detailing the 6 points of the partnership, starting with Canada-Asia connections to boost Canadian exports; improving seafood exports to Asia out of Halifax and the Maritime Regions; seasonally operating Vancouver Cherry Flights to Incheon and connecting into Asia via Flexport's network; prioritizing and improving Perishable Cargo transport; evaluating Specialized and High-Value Commodities, and lastly: Innovative Handling Solutions: “Flexport's innovative solutions, which includes tail-to-tail transfers at ORD to minimize transit times and preserve perishable cargo integrity, makes them the ideal collaborator for WestJet Cargo,” the release maintains.
So, WestJet Cargo is set to offer new air freight solutions and Asian destination airports, to promote Canadian exports into Asia, while Flexport has agreed to Canadian exports to key Asia hubs via its existing dedicated freighter network. The link point for WestJet Cargo’s incoming Canadian cargo, is Chicago’s O'Hare International Airport (ORD), since Flexport operates dedicated freighters from here to key Asian air freight hubs, such as Incheon International Airport (ICN), Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).
Neel Jones Shah, EVP of Global Key Accounts and Chief Customer Officer, said: “We're thrilled to collaborate with WestJet Cargo to provide a creative, dependable air freight solution for Canadian exporters looking for greater access to Asian markets. Our collaboration with WestJet Cargo is the latest example in Flexport's mission to make global commerce so easy there'll be more of it; by creating a fast lane for Canadian exporters to move their goods, we can break down global trade barriers and boost export volumes for these producers.”
Kirsten De Bruijn, Executive Vice-President, Cargo at WestJet Cargo, commented: “This partnership with Flexport opens new doors for WestJet Cargo, and reinforces our commitment to our customers and Canadian economic growth. Together, we offer cutting-edge logistics solutions to meet the growing demand from Canadian exporters to Asia, particularly with regards to our valuable perishable cargo. Using ORD as a connection point, we are seamlessly able to transfer cargo within a matter of hours, further ensuring the freshness and integrity of key Canadian perishable exports.”
TIACA’s Executive Election results are official
Already communicated at its Executive Summit in Brussels, the news followed in writing last week: Steven Polmans has been re-elected to Chair for a third term and another two years (2024-2025), and will be flanked two co-Vice Chairs: Roos Bakker from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol takes on Vice-Chair and Secretary, whilst Emir Pineda from Miami International Airport is Vice-Chair and Treasurer. The Bylaws were changed to allow the third term and two Vice-Chairs instead of previously just one, with the intention of strengthening the association’s drive and stability.
Steven Polmans, Chair, declared: “Receiving the Board of Directors' re-appointment is deeply appreciated, and I'm thankful for their unwavering support. Both the industry and our association have a lot on their respective plates, and I am dedicated to ensuring that we continue to serve our members and the industry effectively. I eagerly anticipate carrying out the directives set forth by the Board, maintaining a focus on membership, advocacy, partnerships, knowledge, sustainability, and events. Working closely with outgoing Vice-Chair, Sanjeev Ghadia over the last four years, has been a pleasure and I'm immensely grateful for his tremendous camaraderie and support. I eagerly look forward to collaborating with our new co-Vice-Chairs, Emir Pineda and Roos Bakker, as we embark on this journey together.”
Emir Pineda, Vice-Chair and Treasurer, stated: “Seeing the progress that TIACA has made over the past several years, I am proud to take on this commitment as Vice Chair. I look forward to working alongside Steven Polmans and Roos Bakker to ensure we are meeting the needs of our membership and of course the industry.”
Roos Bakker, Vice Chair and Secretary, said: “TIACA has made great strides over the past several years and I am humbled to have been appointed as Vice-Chair for the next two years. TIACA has earned a reputation as the only association that unites all of air cargo. I am excited to get started and continue to push forward with our work.”
Glyn Hughes, Director General, commented: “The TIACA Board has aggressively pursued a new strategic direction for the association following the transformation program commenced in 2020. Strong governance, which is continually reviewed, ensures the Association is run with the highest standards possible for the benefit of its members. Association neutrality and financially viability are established in the Association bylaws which are under the purview of the Trustees. Association programs are designed to support the industry with key challenges in the areas of sustainability, digitalization, market intelligence, people issues including the need for an inclusive and diverse workforce as well as critical focus on safety, security, innovation, and collaborative partnerships. Collectively the programs are designed to meet the needs of our members, who are the real drivers of this association.”
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