Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Specialist Carrier for Freight Forwarders Also Cultures Air Cargo Charters

Aussie Customers Yogurt Production Set to Triple Thanks to AMI
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – AUSTRALIA – WORLDWIDE – For those who know about shipping cargo by air, Air Menzies International (AMI), is a well known success story offering freight forwarders the chance to ship almost anywhere by consolidation, a process AMI calls wholesaling, and one which they basically invented way back in 1976 and a niche market they have dominated ever since.

Having nurtured relationships with most of the major air carriers in those early days AMI went on to offer the groupage service only to trade customers, much as would any other wholesaler, offering cut rates having bought larger chunks of space aboard the aircraft. As anyone who has traded with them knows neutrality is paramount, a fact not lost amongst those in the sometimes cutthroat business of forwarding.

What is perhaps less well known is how much AMI has developed its express services (now operating as a separate division, AMI Express) since acquisition by publicly-quoted John Menzies plc in 1993 and indeed the company's air charter sector, an example of which was evidenced recently when AMI assisted its customer Forwarding Direct and their agent Heppner in a charter to move 24,700 kgs of food machinery from Courville-sur-Eure, France, to South Dandenong, 60km south east of Melbourne Airport.

The machinery – part of an AUS$30 million investment program in Victoria-based Bead Foods by its new parent Chobani – will be used to triple yogurt production capacity for both Chobani Greek Yogurt and Gippsland Dairy to 30,000 tonnes a year in Australia. The expansion has created 50 new jobs and, with the plant now operational, Chobani Greek Yogurt is being produced in Australia and is available nationwide. Chobani’s high use of milk (three times the amount in regular yogurt) is also predicted to create additional long-term business for local dairy suppliers.

Working with its customer and supported by sister company Menzies Aviation Cargo (which provides ground handling in Melbourne), AMI coordinated flight clearance and handled local formalities on arrival. It then arranged offloading, road transport from Melbourne Airport to the installation site, and unloading by mobile crane.

The cargo, valued at AUS$4.3 million, was shipped in six crates; the largest measured 11.85m x 2.47m x 3.04m and weighed 16,700kgs. Due to the size of this piece, AMI had to arrange its road transportation using an extending low-loader, necessitating oversize load permits and the filing of a pre-designated route plan.

The cargo was flown from Vatry in France to Melbourne on an IL76 of Jordanian operator JIAC, chartered through Air Charter Services of London. The flight stopped en route for re-fuelling in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Perth, Western Australia. On hand to oversee offloading in Melbourne was AMI’s General Manager for Victoria, Peter Logan, whose previous experience in cargo handling with sister company Menzies Aviation Cargo proved very useful. Says Logan:

“The load was a very tight fit, with only a few inches to spare. Winching the cargo from its transit position on the aircraft onto the hi-loader took around 2 hours to ensure that the load and the aircraft would not be damaged. Although AMI has been regularly involved in arranging aid charters to and from Australia, this was an unusual job calling for special handling and minute attention to detail. Thanks to the airport authority and everyone else involved, it all went off very smoothly. As this project has demonstrated, AMI is well positioned to continue to handle this kind of traffic when required.”

AMI is now set on a programme of international expansion, aimed at building a web of sales and operational bases each of which then feeds the others. In 2004 it opened an operation in Germany and this was followed, in 2007, by the acquisition of its former service partner UAC - a well-established and complementary trade-only freight wholesaler with extensive operations in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, plus joint-ventures in China and Hong Kong. All operations were re-branded with the AMI identity at the beginning of 2008, and the renowned AMI global tariff format and product range are being introduced to each location to complement the services already offered.

In March 2008 AMI acquired MMA, its former service partner in South Africa, giving it three more locations and a leading position in one of its historically most important markets. With the recent opening of a new US office in Dallas, AMI is now present at 22 locations, and continues to look at opportunities for further expansion. AMI also operates a network of service partners in over 120 global markets, whose role is to breakbulk, clear customs and (on request) deliver to destination.

Menzies Aviation is the fastest growing, and second largest, ground- and cargo handling organisation in the world. The Menzies Aviation business is now rated as best in class for safety and security and operates at 136 airports in 32 countries, with annual revenue in excess of US$1.1bn whilst employing some 18,000 staff worldwide.

Photo: The largest crate being manouevred into position.