Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New Air Freight Services Announced Whilst Heavy Lift and Freight Forwarding Firms Hit Milestones

Expansion for Some as Paperless Airwaybills Make progress
Shipping News Feature

MALI – LUXEMBOURG – US – RUSSIA – SWITZERLAND – Two airlines have announced new air freight services commencing this week whilst one specialist heavy lift carrier makes an inaugural visit with a special cargo and a well-known name in forwarding announces itself as the first completely paperless company in the general air freight sector.

First those new services, Cargolux Airlines International S.A. which is a freight only carrier based in the Grand Duchy has announced the launch of a weekly service to Bamako, the capital of Mali, from 5 December 2013. The flights are operated with Boeing 747 freighters which offer main deck capacity for the transport of airfreight supplies that support the local industries in the areas of natural resources, telecommunications, healthcare and pharmaceutical products, perishables and general appliances. Cargolux’s African network now covers thirteen destinations that show promising export potential with strong shipments for the oil and gas industry whilst the group also offers direct services between the United States and Africa.

In 2010, Bamako Airport inaugurated a new cargo terminal with a yearly capacity of 10,000 tonnes and extended the runway to 3,180 metres, enabling the operation of large aircraft, such as the 747’s and the new service, flight CV7124, will operate every Thursday with a schedule Luxembourg – Bamako – Lagos – Libreville – Nairobi – Manston – Luxembourg. Departure in Luxembourg is scheduled for 16.30 GMT with arrival in Bamako at 21:40 GMT.

In the US, American Airlines Cargo has begun offering full cargo service to and from Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota (MSP). The newly-expanded service provides customers with more options for shipping cargo into and out of the city and gives access domestically and internationally for the full portfolio of the company’s airfreight services including Priority Parcel Service, ConfirmedFS, ExpediteFS and ExpediteTC. Air General will act as American’s handler in Minneapolis/St. Paul and American offers regular connections between Minneapolis/St. Paul and its hubs in Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare and Miami and the service follows the expansion of US services the company has evolved throughout the year.

Our photo shows one of Volga-Dnepr Airlines giant An-124-100 Ruslan freighters which has landed in the Russian city of Salekhard for the first time, delivering a 26-tonne turbine for the local power plant. To operate the flight, Volga-Dnepr Airlines and its customer UTair Cargo JSC had to obtain special permission to land at Salekhard Airport. In order to welcome its first An-124, the airport needed to conform to special requirements, including a definite level of fireworthiness and safety precautions.

The turbine, for the Salekhard electric power station, was moved by ground transport from Ukraine to Ulyanovsk, the Russian city where Volga-Dnepr was founded. In Ulyanovsk, the unique and outsize cargo completed the necessary customs clearance procedures before Volga-Dnepr Airlines’ technical crew loaded it onboard the An-124-100 using special equipment. Salekhard is the second new Russian airport to be served by Volga-Dnepr in 2013. In October, one of its An-124-100 aircraft landed at Khrabrovo Kaliningrad Airport to deliver an 80-tonne mobile power plant.

The forwarder claiming to be the first company in the world to achieve completely paperless flights for general air freight is Swiss headquartered Panalpina. The asset light carrier controls 747-8 freighters which operate several paperless (e-freight) port-to-port services with final destination in Europe, Hong Kong and the US. Panalpina says the departure of flight 5Y607 from Huntsville airport in Alabama to Luxembourg last month was in fact the inaugural flight of the world’s first paperless round-trip route for general air freight.

The company says that in excess of 7,800 tonnes of paperwork travels through the sky every year, adding time, cost and environmental waste to air freight, not to mention space. The quest to cut this superfluous load started in 2006 when the industry-wide e-freight initiative led by IATA began. The aim is to eliminate dependency on paper air waybills (written contracts for transportation) and document pouches (contain original documents from the shipper, such as invoices and packing lists) and to replace them with standardised electronic messages.

Panalpina, now runs regular paperless air freight services between Huntsville and Luxembourg, from Luxembourg to Hong Kong, and from Guadalajara (Mexico) to Huntsville and continues to expand its paperless air freight network every month. The company is confident that it can fly all general air freight on its own controlled Boeing 747-8 Freighters without paper in less than two months’ time, the only exceptions being flights to and from the MEAC region (Middle East, Africa, CIS), mainland China and Brazil. By 2015 the company aims to eradicate 80% of pouches for all general air cargo, be it on the own controlled network or on commercial flights.

The average air freight shipment generates 30 documents that have to be handled by each of the partners involved in the shipment. Replacing this paperwork with electronic transmissions in the fragmented world of air freight is no small feat. It requires resources, training, IT investments, standard operating procedures and a willing partnership between carriers, ground handling agents and freight forwarders. IATA has praised the work done in this field and Desmond Vertannes, its global head of cargo, commented:

"Panalpina is showing great leadership in adopting e-freight and assisting our efforts in transforming the future of the air freight industry. As a global industry initiative, e-freight can only be achieved with the full cooperation of business partners so we encourage others to follow this example.”