Last reviewed 28 November 2012

Regularly updated article by Giles Large featuring the latest news from the air cargo industry.

December 2012

Sense awareness from FedEx

FedEx has announced an expansion and enhancement of its SenseAware service, providing customers with broader international availability and the ability to use the service with carriers outside the FedEx network. The release of the next generation, SenseAware 2000, offers customers more accurate real-time location information, improved cellular connectivity and longer battery life. These enhancements give the service greater reach and provide customers with richer, more customisable, information for monitoring critical and high-value shipments and inventory.

“SenseAware is all about information, and the innovative service increases visibility, allowing customers to make better and more timely decisions,” said Carlo Novi, Managing Director, Sales, HealthCare Solutions, FedEx Express EMEA. Initially available only for shipments in the USA, SenseAware can now help customers monitor shipments and inventory in Canada, the UK, Australia and Singapore.

“SenseAware provides unmatched visibility and insight into global shipments, which is especially important in this increasingly complex global business environment,” Novi said. “Our international expansion programme is allowing us to better serve our customers by providing access to markets where our customers have a need to monitor their supply chain.”

Beyond the FedEx network, the service is now available on Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines’ mainline jets and third-party ground carriers, when used consistently with their rules and regulations.

Schiphol: it could have been much worse

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol experienced improved cargo throughput figures in the three-month period July–September 2012. The quarter was the best so far in 2012, with a total of 373,988t (1.8% below 2011). The period also saw exports exceed imports for the first time since at least the first quarter of 2011. This was influenced by strong exports to Asia, North America, Africa and Latin America in July.

Cargo for the nine-month period January–September 2012 was 2.7% down on 2011, at 1,103,162t, reducing the year-to-date shortfall from 3.3% in August. The figure was helped by September’s 2% growth.

Schiphol Cargo Senior VP Enno Osinga said: “Considering all the ongoing problems in Europe and the US at present, we are very satisfied with these figures, which could have been very much worse.”

Life is tough in Athens

Although life is as tough as ever for the Greek air freight community, an initiative action by a group of top forwarders, backed by the whole air cargo community (members of the airport Cargo Community Committee), has been launched in a drive to stimulate new business. Led and inspired by Alexis Sioris and his colleagues at Athens International Airport, the aim is to target exporters and potential users of air freight capacity from Greece.

The strategy was set at a recent Pan Hellenic conference, namely to approach different international chambers of commerce within Greece with a view to persuading their trade delegates to consider sending more goods by air to their respective countries and markets. The one-stop-shop approach to promoting the airport cargo capability is being spearheaded by a group of some 20 International Air Transport Association forwarders who have the experience and specific market knowledge to contribute to the effort.

Apart from courier and mail traffic, which accounts for around 23% of total air exports, the main Greek exports consist of fresh fish and other perishables, ship spares, textiles, medical products and telecom equipment.

Virgin returns to Cape Town …

Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s restarting of winter season flights from Cape Town is providing a boost in capacity for South Africa’s general cargo and perishable exporters as they look to take advantage of peak season demand in the UK and US consumer markets.

The airline’s daily flights out of Cape Town have operated every winter since December 1999 and are in addition to its year-round daily passenger and cargo flights between Johannesburg and London Heathrow.

As well as exports of general cargo, fish and fresh fruits such as berries, grapes and stone fruit to the UK market, customers in South Africa also benefit from Virgin Atlantic’s fast connections in London to other prime export destinations in the USA, including New York, Chicago and Miami. Every Airbus A340-300 flight offers 17t of cargo capacity.

During the summer, Virgin Atlantic Cargo continues to route Cape Town traffic — including a high volume of general cargo — onto its flights from Johannesburg to London, one of the airline’s top-performing cargo routes.

… and also to Mumbai

The return of Mumbai to Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s global flight network will give exporters and importers in India another choice for fast, same-day trade connections with the USA.

The airline started daily Airbus A330 passenger and cargo flights between Mumbai and London Heathrow at the end of October and has already seen the offer of strong support from customers to and from India, particularly for connections to its major US gateways.

John Lloyd, Director of Cargo at Virgin Atlantic, said: “On all of the routes we serve, we give freight forwarders and shippers in that market another choice to reach destinations all over the world. Mumbai is a thriving commercial centre and has a consistently strong exchange of trade with the UK but we are also seeing a high level of interest for transhipment traffic over London to our destinations in the US. The timing of our schedules means we can offer very competitive same-day and next-day services for shipments from India to the US.”

Award-winning boxes from LH Cargo

Lufthansa Cargo has landed one of the 2012 internationally renowned ÖkoGlobe awards for ecological innovations in recognition of its development and use of lightweight containers.

Lufthansa Cargo Manager Markus Witte, under whose management the container was developed, declared at the presentation ceremony in Cologne: “It is becoming increasingly evident that the mobility industry is investing substantially in innovation and making immense efforts proactively in order to reduce CO2 emissions. We are proud that Lufthansa Cargo has won recognition for its lightweight containers with this environmental award, which has previously been captured mainly by the automotive industry. That motivates us to continue developing innovative and environmentally friendly ideas.”

In co-operation with its Jettainer subsidiary, Lufthansa Cargo has initiated a large-scale replacement programme involving the use of around 5000 lightweight containers made from composite material in the next few years. The new-type containers, 13kg lighter than conventional aluminium containers, lower appreciably the fuel burn of aircraft and, therefore, their CO2 emissions.

WFS wins BA’s Gatwick contract

Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has won the contract to provide cargo handling for British Airways World Cargo (BAWC) at London Gatwick Airport.

The new contract, effective from the beginning of December, will see approximately half of the airline’s cargo team at Gatwick transfer to WFS. The remaining members of the BAWC staff at Gatwick will be offered positions by the airline at London Heathrow.

In support of the agreement, WFS has acquired a second warehouse facility at Gatwick that will be dedicated to the British Airways World Cargo operation. Ahead of the December start date, WFS invested in refurbishing and upgrading the 30,000sq ft freight centre, including office modernisation, a new container handling system, a 20ft container lift, and fast lanes linking the air and landside areas.

Patrick Roberts, Vice President, UK & Ireland for WFS, said: “We are proud that British Airways World Cargo is extending its relationship with WFS, which extends to airport operations around the globe. Our plan is to grow our presence at Gatwick — a key part of our strategic development plan — and this is a long-term commitment. This latest success for us in the UK and Ireland consolidates our leading position in the market at London’s major gateway airports and in the regions.”

WFS opened its first cargo centre at Gatwick in September 2011 and now handles cargo for Vietnam Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Monarch Airlines and Leisure Cargo, which represents over 20 airlines in the UK and Ireland, including Thomson. The 25,000sq ft WFS facility at Gatwick has a capacity to handle up to 50,000t per annum.

November 2012

Lufthansa volumes down nearly 10%

Volumes declined at Lufthansa Cargo in the first nine months of 2012. Compared with the same nine-month period of the previous year, tonnage fell by 8.9% to 1.29 million tonnes.

Given the adverse market environment, Lufthansa Cargo made flexible use of its capacities to keep utilisation on a high level. The load factor fell year-on-year only marginally by 0.3 percentage points to 69%.

“Knowing how volatile the airfreight business is and aware of the importance of exercising maximum flexibility, we make a point of focusing particularly on capacity management”, stated Chairman and CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt. “In that way, Lufthansa Cargo has kept utilisation of its aircraft stable in spite of the weak market.”

United goes for Global Tracking

United Cargo has announced it will be accepting GS-5L, GS-5B and RSU-3 advanced tracking and monitoring devices made by Cubic Global Tracking Solutions, the asset visibility solutions provider for Cubic Corporation, for transport on its entire mainline jet fleet of more than 700 aircraft linking more than 370 worldwide destinations.

The devices bring shipment tracking and security to a new dimension: providing location, environmental sensing, virtual security-fencing and temperature monitoring to cargo shipments transported on United’s network. “The Cubic suite of products is impressive and offers our customers additional options for leading edge shipment monitoring”, said Robbie Anderson, President United Cargo.

“The devices deliver enhanced visibility over several of our key products: UASecure high value, QuickPak and EXP express offerings as well as TempControl”, he added.

The devices are highly advanced wireless, personal electronic devices that include multiple sensors for temperature, humidity, pressure, shock, location and vibration. The devices contain patented intelligence and proprietary logic to automatically suppress the device’s wireless radios to an “off” mode — ensuring safe and FAA-compliant operation during flight.

FedEx goes to Priority Alert Plus

FedEx is offering added connections and peace of mind for customers who require the highest level of reliable monitoring for their time- and temperature-sensitive shipments.

FedEx Express is rolling out a broad expansion of its Priority Alert and Priority Alert Plus inbound and outbound services, introducing them to more than 70 countries worldwide, including 29 countries in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and Africa. FedEx Priority Alert and FedEx Priority Alert Plus will also be offered on domestic services in Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and Canada.

FedEx Priority Alert packages are identified with a bright pink tape to signal their priority status when it comes to loading and unloading. Customers use FedEx Priority Alert to ship critical materials for the financial, aerospace, electronics, manufacturing and healthcare industries, where timing and visibility is of the essence. Customers using FedEx Priority Alert also receive 24/7 support from a team of dedicated global service analysts. These specially trained analysts provide an added level of proactive monitoring and notification of the status of a shipment, whether it is moving through the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) or internationally.

FedEx Priority Alert Plus goes one step further to provide proactive recovery. Designed primarily for the needs of the healthcare industry, Priority Alert Plus includes added services to preserve critical shipments, including dry ice replenishment, gel pack reconditioning and access to cold storage to help keep safe potentially life-saving shipments within the correct temperature range, to protect the integrity of the contents from start to finish.

Schiphol gains Chinese freighter service

Air China Cargo has begun scheduled freighter flights into Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for the first time.

The inaugural Air China Cargo scheduled flight arrived in September, following ad hoc charters in August, and was met with the customary water arch salute from Schiphol’s Fire Brigade.

The new B747-400 services are initially operating five times weekly from Shanghai, via Chengdu or Chonqing; flights return via Tianjin. The airline has slots for up to 10 flights a week from Amsterdam. Some of the new services into Schiphol replace flights to Frankfurt.

Air China Cargo will use Schiphol’s highly developed scheduled road feeder network to over 100 destinations, enabling it to extend coverage to all major European markets.

Air China Cargo’s Executive Vice Present and CFO, Huang Bin, said: "Our new Amsterdam freighter service should be the first choice for customers who need direct service between the Netherlands and Northern China. This is now the third Air China Cargo freighter route serving Europe, which demonstrates our pioneering spirit in the current market recovery, and our great confidence in the prospects for the air cargo market between China and the Netherlands."

With the arrival of Air China Cargo freighter services, Schiphol is the only European airport to serve all three major Chinese freighter operators. Schiphol Cargo’s Senior VP, Enno Osinga, said: “Air China Cargo’s new service further strengthens Schiphol’s links with China; we now have six freighter operators serving China, and 112 flights per week to and from its top 10 cargo airports.”

“No growth” for three to four years

The slow recovery of the global economy will require companies to offer “better and smarter” air logistics solutions to recover shipment volumes, according to a panel of leading industry CEOs speaking at the 26th International Air Cargo Forum in Atlanta, Georgia.

CEOs from Delta Air Lines, UPS, CEVA Logistics, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Coca-Cola Refreshments addressed key issues affecting the air cargo market at The International Air Cargo Association’s (TIACA) biennial forum.

Speaking at a session moderated by Ali Velshi, Chief Business Correspondent for CNN, the panel predicted a sluggish economy for some time, but said there were pockets of growth for the air cargo industry.

“The global economy is not moving as fast as I’d like”, said Mitch Nichols, President of UPS Airlines. “When things slow down people don’t want things so fast. But our deferred product is growing and we are still shipping goods.” John Pattullo, CEO of CEVA Logistics, added that he didn’t expect to see growth for the next three to four years. “I think we will have a sluggish economy and we will be battling for share in a sluggish but stable economy.”

Mitch Nichols said improved collaboration with customers was needed. “We sit down with customers that might not think of themselves as international and show them how easy it is. We break down the complexities for them — whether it’s customs or paperwork. If we can marry what we do well with what our customers do well, then we will both win.” The panel was upbeat about opportunities for growth.

“Manufacturing is moving and airfreight remains vital”, said Bill Flynn, CEO of Atlas Air. “It is never a smooth, straight line but each time there is a challenge, airfreight recovers and grows.”

New consumers in new markets, a shift to a metropolitan population around the world, and growth in developing countries would help boost the industry, the panel said.

The panel also addressed the issue of sustainability, claiming that the airline industry was in a good position. “I don’t think there’s an industry that has a better track record than aviation”, said Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines. “Employees want to be part of a globally responsible company — and airlines, through IATA, are committed to carbon neutral growth by 2020.” But, he warned, authorities should be wary of imposing further regulation on the industry.

“More regulation isn’t a good idea. Markets are supposed to be markets. Part of the problem this industry has is that we are treated as quasi-governmental, and some of our competitors are part government-owned. It’s not a good policy.”

September 2012

FedEx goes green

In 2008, FedEx announced it would seek to reduce carbon emissions intensity from its FedEx Express aircraft and improve the fuel efficiency of its FedEx Express vehicle fleet by 20% by 2020, as compared with its 2005 performance. Less than five years later, FedEx has nearly achieved these goals and is now announcing a revised, more aggressive target that continues to move the company forward in an environmentally conscious manner.

“Sustainable business solutions and workplace practices remain of paramount importance at FedEx,” said William Martin, Managing Director UK Operations, FedEx Express EMEA. “This year’s Global Citizenship Report showcases the accomplishment of our employees in advancing the FedEx commitment to connect the world in responsible and resourceful ways.”

According to the latest Global Citizenship Report, FedEx is well on its way to achieving the 20% aircraft emissions intensity reduction and fuel efficiency improvement goals it set for 2020, having reduced aircraft emissions intensity by 13.8% and improved vehicle fuel efficiency by 16.6% at the end of its fiscal year 2011. Consequently, FedEx has increased its aircraft emissions goal by 50%, to a 30% reduction in global aircraft emissions intensity by its original 2020 target date. FedEx has also reaffirmed its commitment to sourcing at least 30% of its jet fuel from alternative fuels by the year 2030.

In the last year, FedEx has continued its aircraft fleet replacements. By 2015, FedEx Express will have replaced all of its less-efficient 727s with more fuel-efficient and greater-payload 757 aircraft. The company is also continuing to introduce Boeing 777F aircraft, which use 18% less fuel than the MD-11 aircraft while also providing greater payload capacity. Further, FedEx Express plans to introduce the new Boeing 767 aircraft into its fleet in 2013, which will further contribute to its ability to meet the newly revised aircraft emissions intensity reduction target.

Air Partner’s air freight app

Air Partner has become the first aircraft charter broker to launch a freight industry piece fit application. The free multi-lingual interactive app enables users to obtain information on the most suitable charter aircraft for their cargo. It can be accessed via the Apple app store for iPhones and iPads. There is also a browser version at

As soon as the weight and dimensions of cargo are entered, in metric or imperial measurements, the app recommends which aircraft are most suited to the task. Up to four aircraft are suggested, supported by images and cargo hold diagrams, giving an indication of the type of aircraft needed to move a particular item, including outsize freight.

Based on the provisional search solutions provided, users can then contact an Air Partner Freight specialist through the app for further assistance, advice and a quote related to a consignment’s planned route. At this stage, final aircraft loadability checks are undertaken by one of Air Partner’s experts to ensure the correct aircraft choice has been made.

The app is available in eight languages: British English, American English, French, Turkish, German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, all automatically determined by the settings on a user’s mobile device.

“The likely users of this app will be freight forwarders with outsize cargo charter requirements, who make up the majority of our client base,” said Clive Chalmers, Air Partner’s UK Freight Manager. “Technology is playing a major role in how people communicate and buy in this fast-moving digital age. This innovation demonstrates that we are leading the way when it comes to developing new products to add to the traditional freight charter broking services that currently exist. There are more than 30 of the most commonly used charter aircraft types within the system to give clients a useful easy-to-use guide as to which aircraft they would potentially need.”

He continued: “As there are no interactive freight ‘piece fit aircraft guides’ currently on the Apple store for the iPhone or iPad, this makes our new product unique. We are also the only aircraft charter broker to have a freight industry-specific app, which is also available online as a web application via a personal computer or other mobile, on the market.”

Schiphol’s above-average performance

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol handled a total of 729,174 tonnes of cargo in the first six months of 2012, down 3.2% on the previous year, but its performance is above the average for Europe.

Exports accounted for 48.7% of the total, and held up slightly better than imports, which were 3.5% down in the period. June was the second positive month of 2012 to date, up 0.4% on 2011, marking the continuation of a three-month recovering trend.

The Far East remained Schiphol’s top market, with a 38.61% share of the total in the second quarter — but still 11.48% down on 2011, and below its average 40% share for the previous year. The USA also held overall figures back, with a total of 130,796 tonnes — 6.8% below 2011 figures.

Europe figures, which now include Airbridge Cargo flights via Moscow, continued to show strong growth in the period January–June, up 53% on 2011. European traffic has climbed every month of 2012 to date, continuing the pattern of 2011.

Commenting on the year to date, Senior VP Cargo Enno Osinga said: “Although our total tonnages are slightly down on 2011, ours is the strongest performance among Europe’s top three cargo airports, and better than the entire European market, which was down 4.9% up to May. 2012 is displaying less dramatic peaks and troughs than 2011, and the year is shaping up slightly more positively for us than we expected. The feedback from our airline customers is also generally more optimistic than it was.”

Virgin Cargo’s record revenue

Virgin Atlantic Cargo reported an increase in revenue for the 2011/12 financial year despite difficult trading conditions. A 7% year-on-year growth to £239.6 million represents the best-ever financial performance of the cargo division in its 28-year history.

The result was driven by an increase in yield of 12%, with overall tonnage down by 5% year-on-year. Performance was strong both in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region and the Americas, each reporting increases in revenue of 13% and 15% respectively over the 12 months. However, given the challenging market conditions and lack of a traditional peak season in some Far East markets, revenues from the Asia-Pacific region declined by 7% in 2011/12 compared to the previous year.

Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s revenue from joint venture partners, notably its partnership with Virgin Australia, continued to perform strongly, up by 25% thanks to significant increases in tonnage and yield. Freight volumes on Virgin Australia’s transpacific operations from the USA to Australia contributed to the performance.

John Lloyd, Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said: “What marks this result as particularly significant is that it was achieved in the context of both a marginal decline in our share of capacity and in a year when total market volumes failed to grow. At the root of our second successive year of record cargo revenues was a series of internal initiatives designed to improve our efficiency. A 5% increase in our yield premium and substantial improvements in our cost base represent the fruits of our efforts and underpin another tremendous result.”

August 2012

Air freight needs harmonised security

More countries should follow the lead of the USA, the EU, Switzerland and Canada in pursuing mutual recognition agreements for air cargo security, The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) has said.

The Association described the agreements between the EU, Switzerland and the USA, and between the USA and Canada, to recognise each other’s security regimes as “welcomed and sensible progress” towards the shared goals of maintaining the highest levels of air cargo security without impeding international air cargo supply chains.

Michael Steen, Chairman of TIACA, said: “We strongly support efforts to enhance security of the air cargo supply chain without unduly disrupting vital commercial flows. Mutual recognition of robust security regimes is an important way to further this goal, so we commend the US, EU, Swiss and Canadian authorities for their recent announcements in this regard. TIACA will continue to support additional efforts to mutually recognize security regimes and to implement global, harmonized standards.”

TK goes wide bodied

Turkish Airlines (TK), which has, for some years, operated four daily passenger flights between Düsseldorf and Istanbul, has switched to wide-bodied aircraft. The A330 and occasionally A340 or B777 now offer increased wide-body capacity throughout the year, connecting Düsseldorf with the TK hub, Istanbul Ataturk airport. Other Turkish destinations will be served without any changes. This provides between 15–20t of capacity per flight in both directions. These flights connect with not only several destinations within Turkey itself but also to TK’s worldwide network of 190 destinations, especially in Africa and the Far East.

Having increased capacity for both inbound and outbound flights greatly enhances Düsseldorf’s strategic position, covering a wide area of Northern Europe. The hub is increasingly proving to be the ideal airport choice for accessing this huge industrial catchment area, offering efficiency and cost effectiveness for global supply chains.

Thomas Schürmann, Manager Marketing and Sales, stated: “We are the lower-deck specialist airport — offering more than 180 destinations worldwide and providing the hub for two of the three big airline alliances, the Star Alliance and the One-World. In fact, substantial development can be seen at this second tier airport in the north-western region of Germany.”

South Korean partner for GCA

Pacific Airlift, the Asia Pacific partner and co-founder of the Global Charter Alliance, has appointed G-Air as its sales agent covering South Korea.

Founded in 2005, G-Air’s main business activity is airline general sales agency in both the cargo and passenger markets. The company currently represents Transmile Air, Starlight Airlines, Pegasus Airlines, Air China and Evergreen Airlines.

Pacific Airlift Director Andrew Sim said: “We are delighted to welcome G-Air to our network. The impressive experience of their senior team provides an ideal complement to our own expertise in charter, and enables us to extend the Pacific Airlift and Global Charter Alliance services to the very important South Korean market via a widely-respected intermediary.”

Lufthansa sheds weight

Lufthansa Cargo reduced CO2 emissions by more than 700t through the use of lightweight containers in May and June alone. For the first time, more than half the LD3 standard containers utilised for freight and baggage transports were made from light composite materials. By reducing weight, use of composite materials lowers fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

Being 13kg lighter than the conventional type, the aluminium containers made a weighty difference in close to 70,000 container movements over the two-month period.

The airline is currently engaged on a major exchange programme, in which around 5000 new lightweight containers will be brought into service in the coming years. “Reducing weight on board our aircraft is a key factor in lowering the fleet’s fuel consumption and emissions,” stated Bettina Jansen, Head of Environmental Management at Lufthansa Cargo. “In the efforts to realise our ambitious environmental targets and reduce specific emissions by a quarter by 2020 on the 2005 level, we will continue investing in modern technology and press ahead with renewal of our container fleet.”

AMI goes for online imports

The US arm of Air Menzies International (AMI), the world’s largest trade-only airfreight and express wholesaler, has launched an import version of its fast-growing online door-to-door express wholesale product.

Click2ship Imports went live on 1 July following successful testing with five of AMI’s top US customers. The new service provides all-inclusive import rates for shipments collected anywhere in the world. Rates include collection at origin, Customs clearances and delivery in the USA, but exclude duties and taxes.

Like AMI USA’s click2ship Exports product, which was launched 12 months ago, click2ship Imports allows online quotes, instant conversion to a booking, and subsequent online tracking. The service has an AMI-resourced, dedicated live chat facility to answer customer queries.

AMI’s Senior VP USA, Peter Weir, said: “The growth of click2ship has been phenomenal in the 12 months since its launch in the USA. From zero, we are already getting 2500 online quote requests per month. It’s currently only 3% of our business in the USA, but we expect the addition of imports to take it to more than 10% within the next year.”

Although click2ship was originally expected to attract primarily small packages, the average shipment weight is now running at 38kg. “We have been encouraging customers with minimums to try it, as it offers better rates than airport-to-airport services, but for a full door-to-door service with online track and trace,” he said. “We can be very competitive up to 75kg, and we’re able to provide spot rates for larger shipments.”

Virgin Cargo’s Mexican GSA

Virgin Atlantic Cargo has appointed Hermes Aviation to sell freight capacity on its new twice-weekly flights from Cancun, Mexico, to London Gatwick and beyond utilising Virgin’s extensive direct and onforwarding network.

Hermes Aviation will market Virgin Atlantic’s capacity via its offices in Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey and Cancun, offering freight forwarders in Mexico a welcome alternative for traffic to the UK, Europe and beyond, supported by the airline’s award winning customer service.

Cargo exports from Cancun have grown steadily over the last two years thanks to an increase in overseas demand for perishable products such as ferns, fish, lemons, berries and mangoes. Trucking connections from other cities in Mexico to Cancun have been arranged to attract a good share of general cargo traffic for Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 747-400 flights.

Call for harmonised cargo risk assessment

The issuing of ad hoc directives and potentially impractical rules by national regulatory bodies seeking to implement advance electronic information would have an adverse and costly impact on air cargo security, according to the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG). It is calling for regulators to work closely with the air cargo industry to develop rules and regulations in this area. GACAG is also calling for broad industry participation in the ongoing Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) pilot under way in the USA, and for all parties to consider the results of that pilot in developing global standards.

Michael Steen, Chairman of GACAG, said: “We are a global industry and it is critical that we work with regulators to develop a global, harmonized approach in this area. We believe there will be great value from our industry members’ participation in the ACAS pilot in the USA, and on drawing lessons from that pilot towards a globalised and harmonised outcome.”

In its new position paper on Air Cargo Advance Electronic Information for Security Purposes, GACAG said it fully endorses and supports efforts to constantly improve security in the international air cargo supply chain and supports the use of advance electronic information for risk assessment purposes in accordance with the World Customs Organization’s SAFE Framework of Standards and other applicable international security standards. The Group said it supports the use of Regulator–Industry consultation, collaboration and pilot programs as the means of developing these programs, such as the ACAS initiative in the USA led by US Customs and Border Protection and Transportation Security Administration.

However, GACAG warned against national authorities taking a non-uniform approach to the implementation of advance electronic data requirements for security, stating that this could result in added bureaucracy, additional costs and less predictability for the aviation sector. GACAG also believed that consultation and collaboration between regulators and industry are the keys to finding a workable approach.

July 2012

On board with Norbert

Norbert Dentressangle has launched On-Board Logistics, a new suite of aviation, rail and port-side logistics solutions. On-Board Logistics provides a range of solutions to customers, including: food service companies; cruise line operators; airlines and airport operators; from chilled handling and distribution to the screening and processing of cargo, and catering and retail products being transferred to airports, aircraft, trains, ferries and cruise ships.

On-Board Logistics also encompasses Norbert Dentressangle’s global freight management, customs clearance and chilled perishables handling activities on behalf of importers, exporters and retailers, providing a complete service from aircraft to shelf, typically in less than 24 hours. Other services include security screening, storage, handling, order picking and assembly, co-packing, labelling and distribution.

Norbert Dentressangle operates four multi-temperature, multi-customer port-centric consolidation centres, including the Perishables Handling Centre at Heathrow Airport, Europe’s largest chilled air freight handling centre.

At Manchester Airport, the company operates a retail consolidation centre, which processes and security-screens 1.3 million units per annum for delivery to more than 50 airside retailers across the airport’s three terminals. The company is also responsible for processing ambient, chilled and frozen food products destined for the catering and retail outlets within the airport.

Schenker’s excellence

Lufthansa Cargo has awarded its Planet Award of Excellence to its global partner DB Schenker. Presenting the award at this year’s Global Partner Council in Ålesund, Norway, the German cargo airline paid tribute to DB Schenker’s outstanding contribution in 2011 as a global partner, which was most evident in the constantly high volume of freight business between the two companies.

“Co-operation between DB Schenker and Lufthansa Cargo in 2011 was based on an outstanding partnership. We are proud that a large part of DB Schenker’s airfreight was flown by Lufthansa Cargo last year,” said Dr Andreas Otto, Lufthansa Cargo Executive Board member responsible for Product and Sales. “It is exceptionally gratifying that Lufthansa Cargo, along with its strong partners in the Global Partnership Programme, was able to substantiate the success of recent years and also continue on its growth path in 2011.”

Dr Otto presented the award to Dr Thomas Lieb, Chairman of the Management Board of Schenker AG, and also underlined the special ties between the two companies. “It is not merely the growth in business generated by Lufthansa Cargo and DB Schenker that is gratifying. It is also the fact that in 2011 both companies together succeeded in boosting the use of innovative booking channels and in driving e-freight forward.”

FedEx expands into Poland

FedEx Corp has announced that its FedEx Express business unit has completed the acquisition of the Polish courier company Opek as the latest step in the company’s growth strategy in Europe.

The addition of the Opek business to the FedEx Express network will deliver an excellent extension to the service portfolio of both companies and will provide customers with more comprehensive international and domestic service options. With this transaction, FedEx Express gains access to a nationwide domestic ground network with an estimated $70 million in annual revenue and 12.5 million shipments annually. In return, Opek customers get direct access to the global FedEx network.

“With Poland being one of the leading economies in Central and Eastern Europe, the Polish market offers tremendous opportunities for customers wishing to explore new markets and increase their business. The strong position of the Polish economy and tremendous popularity of e-commerce have both contributed to increasing demand for shipping services. We view Poland as a key market for investment and growth,” said Michael L. Ducker, chief operating officer, FedEx Express.

“FedEx entered the Polish market in 1989 and we have been continuously expanding our services since then. This acquisition is another important step to expanding our presence and accelerating growth in this exciting region,” said Gerald P. Leary, President, FedEx Express Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa. “FedEx is committed to providing an excellent customer service as well as an outstanding workplace environment. Therefore we welcome Opek’s employees to our global FedEx team.”

Opek, a family-owned company, was founded in 1994. It has built a well-established network that covers the entire country. The company operates an automated hub in Lomianki, near Warsaw, and additional hubs in Lodz and Katowice. In total, Opek operates 44 stations throughout Poland. More than 1200 employees work for Opek and the company engages more than 1300 contracted drivers.

Speedy clearance in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Air Cargo Industry Services Limited, the road feeder and added-value services arm of Hactl (Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited), is equipping all of its air cargo road feeder vehicle fleet with the new Intermodal Transhipment Facilitation Scheme (ITFS) system.

Following the mandatory implementation of the Road Cargo System in November 2011, ITFS was launched by the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department (C&ED) to facilitate the faster passage of air–land intermodal transhipment cargoes between Hong Kong and Mainland China.

Under ITFS, such cargo will only be subject to one inspection, at either a land boundary control point or the Hong Kong International Airport, and Customs clearance is shortened, from up to three hours to less than five minutes.

ITFS registration of vehicles involves the fitting of a C&ED-approved GPS transmitter and an E-Lock. When the container passes through C&ED’s control points, the vehicle does not need to stop, as the E-Lock reads its smart identity card, locks it and allows it to pass through unless it is selected for Customs inspection. The sealed vehicle can then be tracked via its GPS all the way to destination. To further speed up border processes, dedicated ITFS channels have been established at the Lok Ma Chau and Shenzhen Bay control points.

ABC joins IATA

AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), part of Volga-Dnepr Group and Russia’s largest all-cargo carrier, has become an active member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The airline was formally welcomed to the Association in a letter from its Director General and CEO, Antony Tyler, to Tatyana Arslanova, Executive President of ABC.

AirBridgeCargo is already actively participating in IATA programmes designed to improve safety, quality and efficiency in the air cargo supply chain. It has recently completed the audit to be listed in the IATA Operational Safety Audit register, an internationally accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of airlines. It is also an associate member of Cargo 2000, the IATA interest group working to improve the quality of air cargo, and is working to adopt the Association’s e-freight programme, which aims to take the paper out of the air cargo supply chain and replace it with cheaper, more accurate and more reliable electronic messaging.

Virgin to Vancouver

Vancouver is the newest destination in Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s international network, following the launch of four flights a week from London Heathrow. Flights depart from London every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

The new services strengthen the airline's network in the North American market, which already includes the nine longhaul destinations of New York City, Boston, Washington, Miami, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. In May, Virgin Atlantic resumed weekly A340-600 flights between London Heathrow and Chicago, having earlier also added a further three flights a week from San Francisco.

ANZ relocates

Air New Zealand Cargo is moving offices to join the rest of the airline's commercial European base at Hammersmith in West London. The relocation is designed to allow cross-functioning of the cargo business with other commercial departments across the network and at the same time increase functionality and use of resources.

Its cargo operations at London Heathrow will not be affected by the move and will continue to be based at Radius Park in the facility of its Ground Handling partner, DNATA.

June 2012

Hong Kong training centre

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl), the major air cargo handler at the world’s largest air cargo hub, has set up the first International Air Transport Association (IATA) Authorised Training Centre (ATC) for cargo in Hong Kong.

To increase the level of competency and the qualification of air cargo practitioners in the industry, the IATA Training and Development Institute (ITDI), a leading source of international training and professional development programmes serving all sectors of the transportation industry, has developed the IATA International Cargo Training Program, which incorporates distance learning and e-learning modules for students wishing to upgrade their professional competence or start a career in the industry.

These courses are delivered in hundreds of classrooms worldwide, leading to internationally recognised certificates or diplomas through IATA’s network of ATCs. The ATC operators abide by a comprehensive procedure manual. Training staff must meet strict criteria regarding experience and qualifications, and premises and instructors are regularly audited to maintain consistent teaching quality.

The Hactl ATC, which will go live in the second half of 2012, will provide a wide range of IATA training courses covering subjects such as dangerous goods, live animals, infectious substances and perishables.

Schiphol bucks the trend

Despite continuing shortfalls in its top two markets of Asia and North America during the first three months of 2012, gains in other markets have seen Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s total cargo throughput hold up well, to end 3% below 2011’s total at 358,220 tonnes.

Asian traffic for January to March 2012 was down 15% on 2011, at 129,974 tonnes. Although the region continued to dominate Schiphol’s traffic, its share of the total fell from 40% throughout 2011 to 36.3% in the first quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, North American traffic, down 3% to 66,045 tonnes, took second place with 18.4% of the total.

However, cargo tonnages between Schiphol and the European, Middle East and Latin American markets all showed healthy growth in the first three months of 2012, largely offsetting the weak performance elsewhere. European imports and exports rose 53% to 29,223 tonnes, Middle East cargo totalled 43,973 tonnes (up 5.1%), and Latin American tonnages increased 6% to 44,139 tonnes.

Freighter aircraft movements through the airport from January to March grew to 3765, up 2% on 2011. This was despite the cessation of Jade and other carriers’ freighter services in December and January.

When time is critical

Air Partner’s Time Critical service was launched last year to meet client demands for a door-to-door time-definite worldwide freight service.

The Air Partner Time Critical team has successfully completed bookings for a number of major clients, including multinational corporations, industries, governments and aid organisations across the globe. The most recent example, in April, saw the Time Critical team flying an undercarriage assembly from the UK to Dubai for an international airline. The mission was a full door-to-door service, which utilised road transport as well as a scheduled service freighter.

Clive Chalmers, Manager of UK Freight, said: “When time is of the essence, our clients know that they can rely on Time Critical to get their cargo wherever they need it, whenever they need it. One year on, the service continues to provide a valuable product for clients working to time-definite deadlines.”

Air Partner Time Critical is tailored to each client’s urgent requirements by using aircraft charter, scheduled airfreight, dedicated express road transport and/or onboard couriers. The bespoke RED-TRACK software provides real-time supply chain and in-transit visibility of a shipment’s progress via live monitoring from pick-up to delivery. Clients can securely monitor their cargo’s progress and status online minute-by-minute via any web-based device and can request that simultaneous alerts are transmitted to multiple contacts.

Air Partner Freight charters aircraft of every size to fly cargo anywhere, at any time, whatever its weight, size or shape. Serving governments, leading industrial shippers and relief and humanitarian organisations, the freight team provides bespoke air charter solutions to meet a wide range of cargo charter needs. From urgent “go now” requirements moving small quantities of automotive spare parts between plants, through to the most complex project cargo shipments taking several months to plan, Air Partner Freight has the skills, experience and expertise to ensure shipments are handled securely and reliably.

FedEx delivers in Europe

FedEx has signed an agreement to acquire TATEX, a leading French business-to-business express transportation company. The acquisition represents the latest FedEx investment in delivering sustainable growth in Europe. This transaction is subject to necessary regulatory approvals and customary conditions.

Founded in 1976, TATEX, a privately-owned company, has over 1000 employees and a nationwide network with a central hub at Lieusaint, just south of Paris, and 35 shipping centres including six regional hubs. The acquisition will give FedEx Express access to a nationwide domestic ground network that carries 19 million shipments and produces approximately €150 million in revenue annually.

“FedEx has always recognised the importance of our Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa (EMEA) Region and its many unique marketplaces to global trade, and this acquisition shows we are continuing to systematically and strategically invest in growing our network and value proposition in these important areas of the world,” said Frederick W. Smith, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of FedEx Corp. “The TATEX business complements FedEx existing operations in the French market, and will enable the company to provide additional local services in one of Europe’s largest geographies, to its customers around the world.”

FedEx has been steadily broadening its European network and most recently announced plans to acquire Opek, a Polish shipping company. These acquisition plans follow the company’s purchase in 2006 of ANC Holdings Limited, a UK domestic express transportation company and, in 2007, of its Hungarian service provider, Flying Cargo Hungary. Between October 2011 and the end of May 2012, FedEx will have opened 38 new stations across Europe, including 19 in France. The company has also invested heavily in its fleet, providing an additional five B757s on intra-European routes and another B777 for long-haul routes. This brings the total number of B777s operating FedEx routes in and out of Europe to four. In addition, FedEx Trade Networks has greatly expanded its presence in Europe, including three new locations in France, adding 22 locations in recent years to complement the portfolio of express services.

FedEx entered the French market in 1985. Since then, the company has been continuously expanding its range of international shipping services in the market and today employs over 3000 people in the country. In 2009, the company expanded its EMEA hub at Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, making it the biggest FedEx Express hub outside the USA.

Virgin flies back to the windy city

Customers across the US Midwest now have faster connections to Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s network of over 350 destinations worldwide, with the launch of new flights from Chicago.

The airline is now operating daily Airbus A340-600 flights a week from Chicago, each offering up to 17,000kg of cargo capacity.

Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s fast and reliable trucking network in the USA means customers will enjoy quick connections to and from prime markets across the Midwest, including Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis St Paul, St Louis and Wayne County.

Dan Parker, Vice President Commercial, said: “Since we announced we were launching flights from Chicago, we’ve had a great response from our customers and we expect to be very busy on the route. They welcome the direct option Virgin Atlantic offers and also recognise we will be bringing more reliability and our own brand of customer service to the market, which they already enjoy at our other US gateways.”

May 2012

TIACA attacks Frankfurt night ban

The decision by a judge at the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig to uphold a night-time flight ban at Frankfurt Airport will damage the city’s reputation as one of the world’s premier gateways for international trade and harm the local and national economy, claimed the Chairman of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA)’s Industry Affairs Committee.

Despite strong industry protests, the court’s decision means the ban on flights at Frankfurt between 2300 and 0500 will remain in force. The judge also reduced the number of flights permitted one hour before and one hour after the night-time period.

TIACA has previously warned of the potential economic and environmental damage that would result from the night-time flight ban, a prime time for freighter movements bringing in essential products that are distributed throughout the day once they leave the airport.

The Association said restricting freighter movements would reduce future investment by companies at Frankfurt airport and could lead to job losses. It also warned of a negative impact on the environment from more trucking operations if all-cargo airlines were forced to use other airports. TIACA added that consumers could also expect higher prices for everyday items due to high supply chain costs.

Schiphol scores highly

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has once again been ranked in the top two major European airports (over one million tonnes per annum) in this year’s Air Cargo Excellence Survey.

Schiphol’s 2012 score of 104 was an improvement on 2011’s 103 points and, despite the challenges of running a large airport with significant cargo tonnages and many aircraft movements, Schiphol’s score ranked very well again this year among other majors around the world, and positioned it in the top 35% of all airports surveyed.

This year’s top spot went to Frankfurt, which has consistently been ranked in the top two alongside Schiphol for some years. The results were announced at a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, where senior representatives of the global air cargo community were gathered for the IATA World Cargo Symposium.

New charter brokers’ alliance

Three cargo charter brokers have joined forces to launch the Global Charter Alliance, the world’s first consortium of independent brokers. Their aim is to provide a highly personalised service, but with the benefits of a network behind them.

The three founder members of the Global Charter Alliance (GCA) — Pacific Airlift of Singapore, The Charter Store of the USA, and recently-formed NEO Air Charter of Germany — will work closely together to exploit operational efficiencies, share contacts, market intelligence and other information, leverage collective buying power and benefit from economies of scale.

Owners of the three companies have spent many years working together in their existing and previous companies, but GCA brings new levels of organisation and commitment to their collaboration.

GCA members will enjoy greater efficiency, stronger marketing and reduced costs, while customers will benefit from faster responses, more localised presence at origin and destination, and potential opportunities to reduce costs through sharing of capacity and better use of empty legs.

The current membership of GCA provides it with solid coverage of the USA, Asia Pacific and Europe, supplemented by service partners in other parts of the world that enable it to conduct charters to or from any location. GCA plans to expand its membership further, but will do so in a carefully controlled manner.

AA Cargo back in Dublin

American Airlines Cargo re-commenced its daily, non-stop service from Dublin to Chicago in April. The flight is operated on one of the carrier's B767-300 wide-bodied aircraft and leaves the Irish capital at 1000 every day, arriving in Chicago at 1220. The morning departure is ideal for important cargo shipments and arrives in the US hub where it can meet onward connecting services across North, Central and South America.

On June 14, the carrier will resume daily services between Chicago and the Finnish capital, Helsinki. Operating non-stop and utilising a B767-300 aircraft, the service from Vantaa airport will also offer truck-feeder services to Amsterdam, Stockholm Arlanda, Gothenburg, Malmo and London Heathrow five days a week.

In Ireland, AA Cargo is represented by IAM, under Managing Director Ian McCool. In Helsinki, North Air Logistics acts as GSA for the country under General Manager Nette Rohde-Nielsen.

HK cargo system goes live

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl), the major air cargo handler at the world’s largest air cargo hub, has completed the final phase of implementation of its new COSAC-Plus Cargo Management System. The cutover marks the end of a three-year programme, and a total investment of HK$240million (US$31million).

On 9 April 2012, the last 26 of the 91 airline customers handled by Hactl transferred to the new system. The cutover went smoothly, echoing the success of the previous three phases.

Cindy Ng, Hactl’s General Manager Information Services, said: “COSAC-Plus will always be a work in progress. With ever-changing regulations and customer needs, the system must continue to evolve as it has done since Hactl was launched in 1976. COSAC-Plus and its two predecessors have been the backbone of Hactl’s operations for 36 years, and we continue to invest heavily in ensuring that the system is fully up-to-date and totally robust. When you handle 3 million tonnes of cargo a year for over 90 airlines and 1000 freight forwarders, failure is not an option.”

The UK needs more airport capacity

Despite the fact that a new aviation policy is long overdue, recent advice by the Department for Transport that the forthcoming consultations on airport capacity have been delayed, until late summer, has been tentatively welcomed by the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK).

BAR UK states that the Coalition Government's decision to ban any new runways at major South East airports has placed it in a corner. Hopefully, the delay indicates a strong sign that the Government, intent on economic recovery, realises that its current dead-end policy must be reviewed.

Commenting on the delay, Mike Carrivick, chief executive of BAR UK said: “It is rare that delays to policy-making are welcomed but in this instance it provides a great opportunity for the Government to critically appraise the negative effects of its runways ban and, without too much further delay, arrive at positive proposals for the medium and longer terms.

“Right now, the lack of hub airport capacity is limiting access to several emerging markets and impacting the economic recovery of the UK. Waiting 20 years before a new airport site becomes operational is a non-starter.

“Proposals to develop a new hub airport site in the longer term must be open to considering a range of options, rather than sleepwalk into opting for a site in the Thames Estuary. The estuary proposals have certainly invigorated the debate but all sites, not least the Thames Estuary, will present significant challenges and require critical assessment before any new hub-airport policy is developed.”

ND takes to the air

Norbert Dentressangle Overseas, the fast-growing freight forwarding division of Norbert Dentressangle, has launched “Red Sky Connect”, a managed, end-to-end airfreight service covering the world’s four major trading regions.

The company is launching six initial routes, connecting China to Europe and the Americas, Latin America to Europe and the USA, and the USA to Europe, with further routes due to be added as Norbert Dentressangle Overseas’ network continues to expand.

Under the new service, Norbert Dentressangle offers supplier consolidations at origin, customs management and daily direct and indirect flights, providing a secure and reliable service, managed by a single partner. For European destinations, the company can also provide onward distribution through its established road transport network, offering a genuinely door-to-door service.

With block space agreements with major cargo carriers and its own consolidation facilities in major points of origin, Norbert Dentressangle offers highly competitive rates and robust operational services to both importers and exporters.

Dave Barron, Global Commercial Director, Norbert Dentressangle Overseas said: “The launch of the new service is part of our strategy to develop our activities on the major ND Overseas trade lanes to support our clients in their key markets.”

April 2012

Lufthansa bucks the trend

Lufthansa Cargo returned an operating profit of €249 million last year, the second-best result in company history. Chairman and CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt told a press conference in Frankfurt that the very good results for the year were achieved despite adverse operating conditions. In the present year, Lufthansa Cargo is anticipating severe pressures, ensuing especially from the ongoing night-flight ban in Frankfurt. All in all, however, the company is once more expecting a good operating result at year-end.

Following record profits in 2010, the year 2011 began very positively. In the course of the year, however, demand declined significantly. The airlines struggled against eroding demand, especially in the major airfreight markets in China and India. Garnadt emphasised that “Lufthansa Cargo turned in an outstanding result in a demanding market environment”. That success is chiefly attributable to cost discipline, a broad product range and flexible capacity steering dictated by demand. In the past business year, Lufthansa Cargo increasingly switched capacities from Asia to North America and included new and attractive destinations in its route network.

At the same time, Garnadt was emphatic about huge challenges confronting the airfreight industry in the coming years. The EU’s unilateral stance on emissions trading is notably hitting European airlines and distorting competition. The continuing lack of uniformity in global security standards in the air cargo business, and the slow certification of known consignors in Germany, are threatening to inhibit growth.

With all that, the principal challenge facing Lufthansa Cargo is still the possibility of a permanent ban on night flights at Frankfurt Airport. “There is a real danger of Frankfurt losing its position as the best and most attractive airfreight hub in Europe,” declared Garnadt. A blanket night-flight ban of six hours, daily, would severely disadvantage the competitive standing of companies operating at the Frankfurt base. Round-the-clock handling of express cargo is imperative for those companies. A permanent night-flight ban would deprive Lufthansa Cargo alone of major express connections and cost the company €40 million a year.

A return to Mumbai

Virgin Atlantic Cargo is to increase its network with the return of flights to Mumbai, India’s thriving commercial centre from October this year.

The new daily Airbus A330 passenger and cargo service from London Heathrow will provide a boost in cargo capacity for customers to and from one of the world’s most buoyant freight markets. New Delhi, served by daily flights, has been one of Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s top performing routes over the last 12 years, while India is forecast to continue to grow at a faster annual rate than other traditional cargo markets.

The new flights to Mumbai will see Virgin Atlantic return to a route it first served from 2005 to 2009.

Hactl backs airport expansion

Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl), the major air cargo handler at the world’s largest air cargo hub, has welcomed the Hong Kong Government’s in-principle approval to adopt the three-runway option for the future development of Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).

Handling some 70% of general air cargo movements in Hong Kong, Hactl has grown in tandem with HKIA, which is the world’s busiest airport. It invested over US$1 billion in the construction of its SuperTerminal 1 facility at the new airport in 1998 and, 13 years later, it is still the largest and most advanced in the world. Hactl’s annual cargo throughput (almost 3 million tonnes) already exceeds SuperTerminal 1’s original design capacity.

Hactl has been one of many businesses at the airport to support the campaign to construct the third runway. Says its Managing Director, Mark Whitehead: “The global airfreight market, and the market in this region in particular, is expected to grow in leaps and bounds in the next two decades. HKIA needs to grow to meet the increases in volumes, otherwise its status as the world’s No. 1 air cargo hub will be under threat.”

Ruslan’s revenue increase

Ruslan International, the company which markets and manages the combined Antonov An-124 fleets of its shareholders Volga Dnepr and Antonov Airlines, has reported its provisional performance for 2011.

During the past year, the UK-based company arranged 712 contracts for individual or multiple flights (up 21.5% on 2010), with the 17 aircraft under its management flying a total of 9720 hours (up 13% on 2010).

Ruslan’s estimated overall revenue for 2011 was up 28%, compared to its 2010 audited accounts produced by Ernst and Young. The provisional 2011 figures also reveal an increase of 23.5% in operating costs, of which fuel was the largest element, accounting for 34% of the total (up 6% compared to the final accounts for 2010). The company is estimating a multi-million-pound pre-tax profit for 2011, compared to a marginal loss in the previous year.

Analysis of Ruslan’s operations for 2011 reveals that its customer base remained broad, while the range of cargo narrowed. The company attributes this to rising fuel costs widening the gap between the cost of the An-124 and more conventional shipping methods; the imposition of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) — unlikely to be echoed by similar taxation on shipping in the foreseeable future — is set to exacerbate this situation.

At the same time, the downturn in global cargo levels and increase in passenger numbers — especially in the Middle East and Asia — kept general cargo rates relatively low. This meant that the An-124 increasingly reverted to carrying the heavy- and outsized- cargoes for which it was designed, rather than the general cargo often carried in previous years.

Additionally, rationalised aircraft utilisation resulting from Ruslan International’s management of the combined fleets of Antonov and Volga Dnepr aircraft reduced the amount of empty flying and the consequent need to fill empty legs with marginally-rated general cargo. This increased yields, and also reduced chartering costs for Ruslan’s customers.

Ruslan International Vice President Valery Kulbaka said: “The provisional results for 2011 reveal a number of interesting points when compared to the Ernst and Young figures from 2010.

“The 2011 performance was much stronger than projected, largely as a result of the withdrawal of some NATO forces from Afghanistan, and also the Tsunami in Japan — in the aftermath of which Ruslan International was able to provide significant assistance.”

ABC launches Hannover–China link

A new cargo link between Northern Europe and China has been launched by AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), with its latest route from Hannover Airport to Beijing via Moscow.

The new weekly Boeing 747-400 freighter service will primarily transport engineering and automotive parts from the industrial region in North Germany to the Far East. The global logistics company Kühne + Nagel will be the main customer for the new ABC operation.

“The new connection underlines the growing significance of Hannover Airport on the cargo and logistics map. Hannover Airport is an ideal location with its unrestricted operating permit — 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said State Economics Secretary Dr Oliver Liersch. “It is also the only airport in North Germany which has a catchment area stretching from the Baltic to France on account of its excellent infrastructure links,” he added.

Dr Raoul Hille, Managing Director of Hannover Airport, said: “The Asia–Pacific market in particular has a strong interest in direct flights to north Germany, northern and north-eastern Europe. There is significant savings potential for the logistics sector on account of the shorter operating times on the ground and therefore lower motorway charges and fuel costs. We are also making a strategic contribution to cut carbon dioxide emissions as part of the move away from fossil fuels by deliberately shortening the feeder services.”

“We can include north Germany, northern and north-east Europe in the global distribution of goods in the best possible way through our central hub in Moscow. We have also recently opened new bases in Asia at Chengdu and Zhengzhou in addition to Beijing,” said Ludwig Hamburger, Vice President and Regional Director EMEA, AirBridgeCargo Airlines.