Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Air Cargo News Starts with Schiphol Freighter Slot Discussions After Hub Traffic Growth in 2017

A Round Up of Several Stories from the World of Global Airfreight
Shipping News Feature
NETHERLANDS – A maximum number of 500,000 Air Traffic Movements (ATM) until 2020 has been agreed between Schiphol Group, the local community, airlines, and the Dutch Government but Thursday will be a key day for the future of movements from the Amsterdam airport with a debate in the Netherlands Parliament to discuss the paucity of slot allocations which are said to have caused some freight operators to switch to alternative hubs. The imposition of IATA's '80/20' regulation which insists 80% of cargo is carried by bona fide freighter aircraft, as opposed to in the belly holds of passenger planes, is apparently at the heart of the problem.

Aircraft slot allocations are undertaken by an airport coordinator, Schiphol is a level 3 airport which means the demand for airport infrastructure significantly exceeds the airport’s capacity and the expansion of infrastructure on and around the site is not feasible. This leads to a situation whereby the airport employs a coordinating committee and the managing body agrees slot parameters with all stakeholders twice a year.

Locally based national carrier KLM has requested amendments to the local rule, since agreed by the majority of stakeholders, and it is this which is to be ratified by the relevant government minister assuming agreement on Thursday. It is hoped that the appointment of a neutral local coordinator will revitalise the flow of traffic which has flagged of late and seen several cargo operators switch their operations to other hub airports.

All this of course sounds like bad news but is, in effect, a problem brought on by Schipol’s successful growth in traffic. Europe’s third largest air cargo hub has reported an uptick in yearly tonnage of 5.4%, a jump to over one and three quarter million tonnes. The figure was boosted by strong demand in the Far East for European goods, up 8.8% in 2017, whilst imports for the region grew by 3.1%, Shanghai being the busiest destination. Jonas van Stekelenburg, Head of Cargo, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, commented:

“We have continued to build on initiatives in 2016 and 2017 with the aim of enhancing the experience of our pharmaceutical, e-commerce, and perishables customers, and our continued commitment to quality is having positive results. The upswing in e-commerce shipments, both inbound and outbound, was a large contributor to the cargo volumes for this market. A number of flights transit Europe en-route to Asia, and we can attribute a proportion of the growth in our European figures to the developing Asian market.”

The discussions over future freight slots and the number of agreed air movements were offset by a bright start to 2018, with an increase in load factors as well as a slight growth in ATMs as a consequence of unused slots meaning according to the Schiphol cargo boss who continued:

“This is no reason to hold back on our quality initiatives; we need to stay alert, prepare for what is coming, and seek the necessary innovations. It is very positive that in this current 2017 / 2018 winter season, all requested, full freighter slots were granted, and many freighters were able to continue their business at Schiphol with ad-hoc slots.

“It is Schiphol’s objective to aim for sustainable growth at the airport after 2020 and airfreight is an important part of that, on the belly side we expect AMS to grow in 2018 both in terms of volume and capacity. The outlook for 2018 – as, globally, we see even more air traffic growth - is a challenging one. The slot scarcity has been a challenge for us as a cargo community, and in some cases, cargo stakeholders were under-represented in the various sections of the airport community.

“In 2018 we will act on this, together with all freighter airlines, handlers, and other logistic service providers. Trust, increased cooperation, and improved agreements between all stakeholders are essential in this respect. Close collaboration with our Cargo Community remains vital and is a strong focus for 2018. Together we will continue to pursue our ambitions of better digital information exchange, and further quality improvements in the supply chain, particularly for pharma, e-commerce, and perishables.”

BENELUX – Egyptair has awarded a new cargo and mail handling contract to Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) in Amsterdam and Brussels, extending its relationship with WFS at both airports. The three-year contract, which commences in March 2018, will see WFS handling cargo and mail for the airline’s daily Boeing 737-800 from Amsterdam to Cairo as well as its five times weekly 737-800 services from Brussels to Egypt’s capital city.

WFS says it has achieved significant contract successes in the past year with new or extended contracts from customers including Oman Air, Japan Airlines, MNG Airlines and CAL Cargo Airlines and the new deal extends the cooperation between the two as last year Egyptair chose WFS to also provide trucking services connecting Amsterdam and Brussels with Ostend. Marc Claesen, Regional Vice President at WFS, said:

“Providing trucking services for Egyptair in recent months has enabled us to demonstrate the benefits we can offer and our growing relationship has now resulted in WFS now being chosen to provide full cargo and mail handling services at two of the main European airports in Egyptair’s network. We look forward to supporting the airline’s continued growth in Amsterdam and Brussels and to providing the highest levels of safety, security and service.”

HONG KONG – A team from China Southern Cargo has won this year’s Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals (Hactl) International Forklift and Pallet Building Competition. The contest, now in its eleventh year, attracted entrants from all over the world. Teams from Air Canada Cargo, Air China Cargo, Air France Cargo, China Southern Cargo, IAG Cargo, Japan Airlines, KLM, MAB Kargo, Nippon Cargo Airlines and SF Airlines vied for the four awards on offer.

This year, the layout of the competition courts was made tighter and more complex, placing additional demands on forklift drivers to manoeuvre safely, while successfully collecting cargo in the correct order for the pallet building element which was also ore challenging this year with the introduction of a 125” x 88” pallet, which was to be loaded with cargo configured with two upper surface contours. Amy Lam, Finance Director and Chairlady of the Environmental, Health & Safety Committee of Hactl, commented:

“This is our eleventh year of holding this competition. As always, we used it to foster professionalism and safety in the industry, but we also wanted to promote sustainability and corporate social responsibility. That’s why we blended green themes with supporting our local artistes and our champions. We care about all these things and have ambitious plans and targets for the future.”

US – FRENCH GUIANA – Ukrainian based Antonov Airlines, specialists in outsize project air freight shipments, which recently established a base in Houston, Texas as part of ongoing global expansion, and whose website was hacked again last week, has transported an outsized communications satellite for Orbital ATK. The Al Yah 3 Satellite, the first of Orbital ATK’s GEOStar-3 satellite platform, was accommodated in a container that measured 11.4 metres long, 4.6 metres wide, and 4.1 metres high, and weighed 23 tonnes. Amnon Ehrlich, Director Sales – North America, Antonov Airlines, observed:

“Due to the size and weight of the cargo, we used a low-profile ramp system, specifically designed and manufactured by Antonov Company for the satellite and space transportation sector, to safely and efficiently load and offload the satellite. We are honoured to have been selected as the transport partner for this project, which further illustrates Antonov Airlines’ commitment to its customers and excellence in delivering outsized high-value aerospace equipment worldwide. The aircraft returned to Washington Dulles International Airport with Orbital ATK’s newly developed Galileo spacecraft container in order to accommodate another satellite transport requirement for Orbital ATK.”

RUSSIA – Moscow based AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), an offshoot of Volga Dnepr, ex partners of Antonov until the deterioration of relations between Russian and Ukrainian governments, has reported cargo volumes in 2017 as over 700,000 tonnes, up 13% with a 10% growth rate in freight tonnes per kilometre (FTK) and a year on year load factor increase of 4% resulting in 71%. Sergey Lazarev, General Director of ABC, said:

“In 2017 we concentrated our efforts on the development of special cargo transportation, fine-tuning our internal procedures and processes, aligning our organisation structure and going on the path of digitalisation, steps which boosted our volumes of special commodities, with temperature pharma heading the list (+150%), followed by off-size & heavy (+33%), and e-commerce (+26%).

”We have also initiated a number of projects aimed at ameliorating service quality, including the introduction of our new Control Tower to monitor consignments of special cargoes and to proactively respond to service disruptions if any, Envirotainer QEP certification for ABC stations, cooperation with Sky Fresh for automated notifications, and other industry-related initiatives with tech-savvy solutions which helped to sharpen ABC’s performance.

”Our commitment to continuous improvement and strong customer relationships will continue to serve as a pillar for ABC’s development in 2018 and beyond.”

Photo: The Antonov freighter swallows the GEOStar-3 satellite platform container.