Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Freight Forwarders and Air Cargo Carriers Knuckle Down to the Sporting Games Logistics Challenges

Olympic and Commonwealth Events Give a Boost to Transport Companies
Shipping News Feature

RUSSIA – GERMANY – UK – FRANCE – With the start of the Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games approaching fast, the chosen freight forwarders and air cargo carriers have been accelerating logistics operations to ensure all the vital equipment required by athletes and organisers arrive on time and in good order. On Boxing Day a giant AN-124-100 Ruslan freight aircraft soared over the city of Ulyanovsk bringing in the Olympic flame which signals the spirit of the Sochi event had arrived.

As part of the official torch relay programme, the Olympic flame was encased in a secured lantern and placed in the Volga-Dnepr aircraft. While aboard, it was accompanied by an entourage of flame guardians together with a series of Volkswagen Amarok trucks that had been driven into the spacious hold of the world’s largest serial airlifter. The giant Antonov 124 Ruslan freighter has been rightfully deemed a symbol of Ulyanovsk, where it first went into serial production back in 1986. This industrialisation was the culmination of a ten year construction project to build the manufacturing plant for the aircraft that is known today as Aviastar-SP and an entire city district of aviation workers informally named ‘New Town’, with a population of over 140,000, grew up next to the production line.

The torch bearing flight occurred just two days after the AN-124-100 celebrated the 31st anniversary of its maiden flight and so far Volga-Dnepr Airlines has operated a total of 18 cargo flights in support of the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the torch flight was, at the time, the latest in a series which began way back in 2009 when the airline operated a series of flights carrying tunnel-boring equipment for building Sochi’s new transport infrastructure. In 2011, telecommunications equipment was delivered for a trial broadcast of a skiing competition and last year Volga-Dnepr carried transformers and several mobile gas turbine power plants to Sochi to provide reserve electrical energy.

More recently still the latest flight included the delivery of forty tonnes of video broadcasting equipment before the Games begin on 7 February. Volga-Dnepr conducted the flight on behalf of logistics company Efis Air in France, part of ECS Group, carrying the equipment from Vatry in France on board one of its IL-76TD-90VD freighters. The shipment included display stations, projectors, power supplies and supporting equipment that will be used to broadcast the opening ceremony in Sochi’s new Fisht Olympic stadium. Alain Boussard, General Director of Efis Air, commented:

“We would like to thank Volga-Dnepr’s team for this excellent job. Thanks to the professionalism of the airlines’ experts the cargo was transported on a single flight to ensure the fastest and most economical delivery. The equipment has now been delivered to the stadium ready for installation to begin.”

Meanwhile having been reconfirmed as logistics supplier for both the Sochi and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, German freight forwarding and logistics outfit DB Schenker was appointed as the official co-partner of the Sochi 2014 German Olympic team and will handle all freight for the German Olympic delegation on behalf of the German Olympic Sports Confederation. Its tasks include transporting the roughly 800 bags packed with the athletes' official clothing, training and competition equipment for the individual associations, office equipment for the head of the delegation, physical therapy equipment and the team pharmacy.

In all, 140 tonnes of luggage and equipment for the German House and the German delegation will be transported by truck, train and airplane to the Olympic Village, German House and competition venues. And that includes luges and bobsleds, ski equipment, massage tables and the two metre tall DOSB mascot Trimmy. Additionally the company is the official partner for the ‘German House in Sochi 2014’. This venue is meeting place for athletes, the media and the political and business communities.

Schenker Deutschland AG has served as the exclusive logistics partner of the German Houses at the Olympic Summer and Winter Games since the Sydney Games in 2000. Services provided for the German House range from logistics planning and transport, including customs clearance, to support in Sochi and return transport. Meanwhile DB Schenker Rail, most notably via a subcontractor, Railion Russia Services, is collaborating with Russian Railways to transport block trains to Sochi, where the containers for the German House will be transhipped at a container terminal operated by DB Schenker.

One of the train transports carrying 21 twenty-foot containers packed with equipment such as two full Alpine chalets, parquet flooring and carpeting, media equipment, and all of the necessary furniture will arrive in Sochi on January 22. The Sochi 2014 German House will be open daily until 12 midnight from February 6 through 22 and will provide space for some 350 athletes and accredited visitors. With Schenker also being booked as Official Logistics Provider for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 as we reported last month, things in Scotland are also moving apace.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is to hold a conference, ‘Managing deliveries and servicing during the Commonwealth Games 2014’ to give goods vehicle operators the information and guidance they need in order to operate seamlessly before and during the Games. The conference is sponsored by ATS Euromaster and Volvo and is aimed at supporting Glasgow City Council’s avowed intent that the city will remain ‘open for business’ during Games, which take place this summer from 23 July to 3 August.

At the event Glasgow Chamber of Commerce will talk about the business community’s expectations and needs for freight servicing and deliveries during the Games, and the Games organisers will give information on the Games Route Network, including times, areas, venues and restrictions on freight movements, collections and deliveries, and how this will affect operators. With a series of events going on during 2014 in addition to the Commonwealth Games, transport resilience is going to be key, and Transport for Scotland will talk about the plans it will implement.

Other subjects to be covered at the conference include the legacy of the 2012 Olympics, the services and information FTA will be providing to assist members in preparing for the Games, and advice from freight operators who are already preparing for the Games having learned the lessons of the Olympics, including their experiences and top tips. In addition, Police Scotland will talk about security and contingency planning. Chris MacRae, FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland, said:

“Information and planning are the key requisites to enable the logistics industry to maintain service to customers during the changed operational requirements imposed by the Games. FTA’s conference will give that information and allow for discussion of the issues with the organiser, stakeholders and the logistics industry.”

Early Bird places are available until 13 March for FTA members and non-members at a reduced price of £200 + VAT per delegate. After 14 March delegate prices are: FTA members: £235 + VAT per delegate - Non FTA members: £275 + VAT per delegate. To book a place, call the FTA Member Service Centre on 08717 11 22 22, complete the online booking form HERE or e mail events@fta.co.uk  

Photo: The Olympic torch in front of the huge freighter aircraft.