GST hiccups take toll on aviation air freight and logistics industries

The National Democratic Alliance government’s bold initiative of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ launched in July 2017, the General Services Taxes program, has taken its toll on key industries with major players collectively asking for some relief

India’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) program now in its initial stages of implementation has encountered teething problems across many verticals and the government is tweaking the same depending on feedback it is getting.

The NDA government’s bold initiative of ‘One Nation, One Tax’, launched in July this year, has not gone well with a nation which has a significant section of the population which would do well without paying taxes.

Previous governments have dithered on this but no so the present government which is undertaking bold reforms even if it may not be popular.

The central taxes included into the GST are: central excise duty, additional excise duty, service tax, countervailing duty, and special additional duty of customs. Additionally, GST also covers some state taxes such as: sales of goods and services, entertainment, central sales tax, octroi and entry tax, purchase tax, luxury tax, and taxes on lottery, betting and gambling.

Airlines feel the heat
With that preface, let us look at the logistics and the cargo industry and how the GST has impacted them. Already airlines in India are crying that they will become globally uncompetitive.
In a meeting with the Ministry of Finance, they have indicated that the aviation industry will be adversely affected to the tune of Rs.5,700 crores annually. The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which represents IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and GoAir, in a recent representation to the Ministry said the guiding principles of the new indirect system — revenue neutrality and equity — have been violated by the GST.

“The airline industry will be hit by ₹5,700 crore (less than 100 million USD) per annum and the GST will make the flourishing sector sick. The Indian carriers will become globally uncompetitive as it will give huge benefit to competing airlines, especially from the Gulf,” the airlines said in their submission to the Finance Ministry.

They said the GST was against the objective of “affordability and sustainability” stated in the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016 and regional connectivity scheme UDAN released last year.
They suggested to the government that the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) should not be charged on re-import of repaired aircraft engine and parts, inter-state transfer of goods for captive consumption and import of serviceable parts under service exchange program.

As per GST, 18% tax is charged on re-import of aircraft spare parts which were earlier exempted from import duty and service tax. The government has made GST applicable on transfer of aircraft spares, which are kept in central stores, between States on a daily basis.

The high rate of IGST on import of purchased aircraft parts was another issue flagged by the airlines. Aircraft seats and parts and battery are taxed at 28% and nut bolts, aircraft engine and motor is charged at 18% whereas, landing gear and propellers are taxed at 5% under GST.

Air Cargo seeks parity treatment

Similarly, air cargo players have also urged the government to tweak the GST in such a way that it helps the industry in growing. Air cargo should be treated at par with other logistics sector like roads which is subject to 5% tax rate. They have sought from the government a reduction in the tax rate from the present 18%.

With the introduction of GST, octroi has been removed, which has propelled the demand for cargo movement by road. In order to protect air cargo from the negative impact emanating from this development, air cargo players have sought connecting rail cargo with air cargo.
As such the airlines are feeling the impact of GST. While airlines can claim input tax credit on all inputs (excluding ATF) on the business class; for the economy class they can claim input tax credit only on input services. However, there is no clarity if the existing exemptions would continue or not under GST structure.

The contention is that when the domestic cargo has registered a growth of 8% at a CAGR during FY07-17 and international cargo at 6.2%, the air cargo industry needs all the incentives, tax or otherwise to keep the development agenda running.

As per IMF forecast, GDP growth in India is forecast to grow at an average of 7.5 precent-8.2 percent during FY18-21 and thus, air cargo could be at the centre of supply.

Weak inbound freight demand

The air cargo sector in India is still fragmented and faces certain challenges as air traffic is mainly concentrated at only a handful of airports. The challenge lies in connecting cargo volumes of Tier 2 & 3 cities with major cities for air transportation, which lacks appropriate cargo infrastructure.

The inbound freight demand is not very strong and is not enough to fill up the aircraft but that is not the case with exports which see much higher utilization.
As a result of intense competition, the export rates have been low. Hence, airlines are finding it tougher to make profit to keep India on their route.
The President of Air Cargo Agents Association of India, Hemant Bhatia, says “An issue of great concern to the air freight sector is the applicability of 18 percent GST on export freight. This category was zero rated in the service tax regime. The new levy on export freight under GST will have a cascading effect on freight forwarders and exporters, and will increase the cost of exports from India. ACAAI has vigorously taken up this issue with the concerned Ministries and Government Authorities.”

While GST has included numerous indirect taxes and levies pan India into a single tax bundle, it is a welcome development because in due course, it is expected to greatly facilitate trade and industry on the taxation front.

However, there are operational and system performance issues which continue to plague the customs system ICEGATE, Bhatia added.

The frequent disruptions and downtime of this system has reached alarming levels and cause extensive delays in the clearance of import and export cargo.
Consequently, import goods do not reach the ultimate recipient in a timely manner, while export goods often miss their flight connections and deadlines of the importers in the destination countries. This scenario severely impacts the export competitive-ness of our country.

Logistics Performance Index improves

Though India’s logistics performance index (LPI) as per World Bank has catapulted from 54 in 2014 to 35 in 2016, it is hoped that with the ironing out of the issues related to GST, it should propel the transport and logistics sector to greater heights.

Market research agency Novonous in its recent report estimates that 3PL logistics market in India is expected to be worth $301.89 billion by 2020. By then, Indian logistics market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.17 percent primarily driven by the growth in the manufacturing, retail, FMCG and e-commerce sectors.
This growth rate is also based on the expectation of GST being implemented properly and the logistics companies optimising their operations to reduce cost and increase their margins.
Further, it is the implementation of the GST that would increase productivity and raise efficiency levels in the logistics sector and the economy as a whole. According to various industry estimates, freight times will come down by 30-40 percent and logistics costs are expected to reduce by 20-30 percent.

With GST in place, there will be consolidation of warehouses, thus, reducing lost time between transporting from one warehouse to another. Shorter supply-chain cycles will entail lesser time spent on unnecessary activities like paperwork, material scrutiny at checkpoints, compliance with multiple regulations, etc.

This will make it smoother for transport companies as they will be able to transport goods with lesser stoppages and breaks in the journey.

Dubai Airshow 2017

Deals, aerobatic displays, latest commercial, business & military aircraft and more
Military might on display will include SU35, Dassault Rafale, the Taqnia/Antonov AN-132, the IOMAX S2R-T660 Archangel and a PAC JF-17 Thunder. In addition, helicopters are well represented with a Turkish Aerospace Industries T129 Atak Helicopter, the Motor Sich Mi2 and Mi8 MSB-T.

Major deals, spectacular aerobatic displays and over 160 of the latest commercial, business and military aircraft will be on display at the Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC Dubai Airshow Site) when the five-day Dubai Airshow 2017 opens this month.

New for this year’s Nov 12-16, 2017 event will be the Sukhoi Superjet 100 and the Japanese Air Force Kawasaki C2, in addition to first time exhibitor Calidus displaying not one but two aircraft: the B-250 Bader and the TX-C, organizers said.

Military might on display will include SU35, Dassault Rafale, the Taqnia/Antonov AN-132, the IOMAX S2R-T660 Archangel and a PAC JF-17 Thunder. In addition, helicopters are well represented with a Turkish Aerospace Industries T129 Atak Helicopter, the Motor Sich Mi2 and Mi8 MSB-T.

“The aircraft that we are expecting on the static display at the Dubai Airshow 2017, like the show itself, represent all sectors of the aerospace industry,” said Michele van Akelijen, Managing Director of show organisers Tarsus F&E LLC Middle East. “We’re seeing lots of returning favorites, like the Emirates A380 and several jets in the Gulfstream family, plus some new and exciting inclusions such as the Calidus Bader 250.”

“We are also very pleased to again see the inclusion of unmanned aerial vehicles, such as the Turkish Aerospace Industries Anka MALE Class UAV which are a particular focus at the show this year, with the UAS Summit taking place for the first time.”

Business aviation, a market which is growing in the Middle East, is always heavily represented at the Dubai Airshow and this year is no exception with around 50 business aircraft expected on the static park, including a Gulfstream G650ER and Bombardier Global 6000; while Emirates Airline will be displaying its all business class ACJ319.

Also on display will be the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, while both Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways will be exhibiting their flagship A380s and Flydubai will be showing its Boeing 737 MAX 8. Among other aircraft on the static park will be Honeywell Boeing 757-200 and Diamond DA50 Super Star.

Aerobatic stunts

Aerobatic displays this year will include PLAAF August 1st Air Demonstration Team from China performing in J10As and the Russian Knights in Sukhoi SU30Ms in addition to the UAE’s Al Fursan flying their Aermacchi MB-339NATs.

The flying display will also feature helicopters, including the TAI T129 attack helicopter performing for the first time at the Dubai Airshow, plus Motor Sich Mil 2 and Mil 8 models. A large number of military aircraft will also be demonstrating their prowess, with a US Airforce F16, UAE Mirage 2000, French Airforce Dassault Rafale and a Taqnia An132.

Of particular interest this year will be the Calidus Bader 250 – making its introduction at the Dubai Airshow 2017, the aircraft is manufactured in the UAE. Also appearing for the first time will be the Sukhoi SU35 while other aircraft flying include the Airbus A350 and a Beriev BE200 ES demonstrating its firefighting ability.

The flying display will also feature helicopters, including the TAI T129 attack helicopter performing for the first time at the Dubai Airshow, plus Motor Sich Mil 2 and Mil 8 models. A large number of military aircraft will also be demonstrating their prowess, with a US Airforce F16, UAE Mirage 2000, French Airforce Dassault Rafale and a Taqnia AN132.

More than 72,000 trade visitors are expected to attend the Dubai Airshow which would have 1,200 exhibitors this year from Europe, Middle East, the Americas with the majority hailing from the US and Canada.

Many of the show’s 100 first time exhibitors this year come from around the globe and include Rockford Xellerix, the UAE’s only independent provider of wiring, interconnect and system solutions for the defense, aerospace, and marine industries; the Japanese Ministry of Defense; and Vector Aerospace, a Canadian MRO provider. Others include Aerospace Maintenance Solutions from the USA, Nordic Aviation Capital from Ireland and D. Marchiori from Italy.

Of particular attraction this year are the new feature pavilions and conferences that have been launched for 2017: the Space Conference and Pavilion with speakers including Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Col. Al Worden, USAF-Ret; Cargo Zone, the UAS Summit and Airport Solutions which has been re-launched by Tarsus F&E LLC Middle East for 2017 as part of the Airport Solutions Global Series.

Other popular features will return this year including Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE), now in its fourth edition, having expanded to include panel discussions on maintenance and crew training in addition to pilot training. Futures Day, aimed at inspiring the next generation of aerospace professionals, will also return on day five of the show in conjunction with leading UAE universities.

Archaic revenue management system stunts air cargo industry growth

Air cargo is a very dynamic and volatile business. It can also be highly competitive and is constantly under margin pressures. In these circumstances, it is critical that cargo carriers make use of any available opportunity and respond quickly to customers – and in a manner that does not compromise profits.

This is where Revenue Management System (RMS) comes in. This is formulated to automate a lot of the calculations involved, leaving flight planners to make more effective use of their time and focus on ensuring the optimal usage of available capacity.

First introduced in the early 1980s in the airline industry to increase revenues and avoid empty seats, RMS has been transitioned to many other industries, including air cargo.

An effective cargo revenue management system accurately forecasts and deploys available supply, resulting in improved revenue and profit. It also supports billing and accounting processes highly customized for the industry.

Success in today’s industry requires a solution that incorporates advanced technology that is robust in providing airlines with more accurate, real-time information in an easy-to-consume and interpret format, according to Sabre Airline Solutions.

Air Cargo Update met with Ashok Rajan, the Vice President and Head of Airline Cargo Services at IBS Software, to discuss how iCargo adds business value to the industry.


iCargo emerged from the need of the air cargo industry to have a dedicated air cargo management solution for managing all facets of the business – sales, planning, managing operations and accounting for revenue. Generic ERP solutions were too vast and generic requiring heavy customization, maintenance etc. and bespoke/ point or legacy solutions for cargo never managed to keep it all together.

“iCargo was developed ground up by IBS Software, with the help of global airlines forming a Core Group of Influence (CGI), who provided the business capabilities to be built into the solution. The CGI member airlines also validated the requirements through acceptance testing of iCargo solution to suit to their business operations. Nippon Cargo Airlines, a CGI member became the launch customer for iCargo in 2008 and the solution has since then been implemented across numerous carriers and has 22 active customers today,” said Rajan.

Today, iCargo is a fully integrated platform solution tailored for the industry that also includes “mobility based warehouse operations, sensor integrated tracking capability for cargo, specialized capability for management of cool products like pharmaceuticals, etc.”

As a fully integrated platform solution for air cargo management, iCargo offers capability to process all business updates and transactions for cargo shipments from the time of sale, through the various touch points in handling/operations and finally to billing and accounting.
This helps automate the accounting process in the following ways:
a. This provides a ‘full picture’ view of the air cargo process – thus minimizing errors and discrepancies and also eliminating the need for repeated data capture/entry
b. It automatically registers deviations at each stage and also re-calculates the billable value after each update. E.g. when the tendered shipment weight is different from booking, thus eliminating the need for manually identifying these anomalies and correcting them through manual re-calculation
c. iCargo works on a principle of ‘work by exception’ – a function called “AWB Audit” checks all shipments for correctness of data, conducts ‘plausibility checks’ such as very high billing value etc., missed milestones (E.g. spot rate not approved by authorized person) and highlights this prior to billing, thereby reducing billing errors.

Reducing redundancies

The Cargo Revenue Accounting (CRA) business module of iCargo is built as a fully integrated component of the overall platform. This provides seamless and end-to-end visibility of the full process of processing cargo shipments from sales to operations until it goes through all of the cargo revenue accounting processes.

“This means that data once captures as part of sales, operations processes as well as the flown or uplift data as the cargo moves from origin to destination flows automatically and seamlessly into the CRA module, thus eliminating the need for repeated data capture or even the need to have any bespoke system integration between the two functions. This saves cost, time and effort for end practitioners,” Rajan explained.

It also does not require any specialized process for ‘importing’ AWB operational data from any other system. It simply flows from the other modules for sales and operations within the iCargo suite.

However, in the instance that the carrier might be using iCargo CRA as a standalone module and a different IT system for the operations side, the import is achieved through a custom built interface. iCargo also has pre-defined APIs allowing any other system to provide such information directly to iCargo.

“We believe in using technology innovation to create practical use-cases that can deliver tangible value to our customers. For this, we have constituted an internal “innovation focus group” that is responsible for evaluating innovative solutions and ideas centered on technology and creating practical use-cases or business applications for this,” said Rajan.

“The result is that we have at any point of time a healthy set of ‘lab’ ideas in the form of prototypes, proof of concepts etc. that we showcase to our customers and work with them to shortlist the ones that has the maturity and practicality to deliver value,” he added.

Flexibility in meeting targets

Helping carriers become more profitable, more efficient and also very responsive to customers does this. This has a direct impact on an airline’s financial performance, where margins are wafer thin and the services are also largely undiffer-entiated.

“The game today for air cargo operators is to identify a good product mix, the right parameters for sufficiently differentiating itself from competition and in delivering to the promise in a profitable manner. iCargo provides tools and capabilities as well as a whole set of innovation led solutions to help carriers and air cargo service providers achieve this very delicate balance,” said Rajan.

“The challenge for carriers is to find the right mix of long term capacity commitments (e.g. allotments), space for the specialized and high value shipments (E.g. pharma, mail etc.) and to the open market or free sale, where there is a lot of potential for upselling in high demand routes. How well a carrier manages this, fundamentally determines how well they carry out “revenue management” and consequently, how profitable they are,” he noted.

The iCargo product provides capabilities that enable carriers and service providers to create highly customized products and offerings to suit specific business needs.
These services can either be bundled into branded products which have a higher price compared to regular shipments or can be provided as and ‘a-la-carte’ menu, which can be selected by the customer during booking.

This opens up a large set of oppor-tunities for the carrier or service provider by using similar concept as ‘ancillary service revenue’ model that has proven to be very successful in the passenger side of the business.

iCargo also provides several in-built value adding capabilities which will enable carriers to ‘step-up’ their cargo business and the way they offer their products and services.
“This could be in the form of introducing new technologies such as self-help kiosks at warehouses, advanced sales force engagement tools etc. on top of the core system. IBS has facilitated this ‘second wave’ of transformation for many of its customers leveraging on its strong software services capabilities – which allows customers to introduce a layer of ‘personalization’ on top of the core solution,” said Rajan.

Archaic system no longer effective

Rajan thinks carriers and cargo experts should focus on being able to differentiate their business from competitors and deliver superior quality in customer experience and in service to make processes more efficient and less resource intensive.
“The immediate impediments to such a transformation are the lack of good quality data and the requisite tools to enable its workforce with. Many archaic processes and practices are the result of years of ‘legacy’ and these results in higher costs, lack of service quality and poor customer experience,” he said.

“Technology can solve part of this – like providing a good data backbone, providing tools to automate processes, diagnostic and self-monitoring capabilities and so on. The other part is to enable the organization to make use of these tools and capabilities by being open to change,” he concluded.

Other concepts that IBS is currently working on are:
AI based applications to help automate repetitive tasks like AWB rate auditing and error correction
Virtual ‘chatbot’ to work as a personal assistant in cargo,
IoT concepts that provide real time monitoring and diagnostics of shipments in transit through a variety of sensors such as temperature, geo position etc.
Virtual reality based visualization of cargo planning and operations
Mobile apps for providing direct access to real time shipment tracking customers from their smart devices and several others.

Women in Air Cargo and Aviation

A disproportionate ratio still exists against women in the air cargo and aviation sectors but their numbers are rising thanks to a new perspective and changing technological trends that require more analytical, technical and engineering skills rather than their muscles, igniting passion for more women to explore the industries that greatly reward hard work and loyalty

History is made in aviation every year on March 8, the International Women’s Day.
In Dubai, Emirates Capt. Nevin Darwish, an Egyptian, flew on that day A380, the largest commercial plane in the market, becoming the first Arab female pilot to hold the title.
In the not so distant India, the country’s national flag carrier flew an all-women crew flight around the world covering a distance of about 15,300 km in 15.5 hours, capping the feat in its capital New Delhi.
Indian women operated the entire flight, including ground handling, from operator to technician, engineer, flight dispatcher and trimmer. The line operation safety audit was also done by a woman, Harpreet A De Singh, ED Flight Safety, Air India.
Mukesh Bhatia, Regional director (Western Region) of Air India, says, the company has the biggest women workforce in the country’s growing aviation industry at 3,800 covering jobs as pilots, cabin crew, engineers, technicians, doctors, security personnel, duty managers, and executives in various fields.
In March, Brazil’s Capt. Carla Alexandre Borges also made headlines when she became the first woman to fly the country’s presidential aircraft. An experienced combat pilot at the Brazilian Air Force, she was also the first Brazilian woman to fly an A-1 jet fighter.
In the warring Korean peninsula, women pilots are also actively engaging in the air space with both South Korea and North Korea having jet fighter planes commandeered by women. Elsewhere in Asia, the number of women in civil and military aviation keeps growing.
Aviation Commands Growth
Over the next two decades, as aviation takes on a more important role in connecting people and goods and as the middle class in emerging markets in various regions rise, the industry would need about 620,000 more commercial pilots and thousands of technical jobs in the field, according to separate analytical reports made by global giants Boeing and Airbus.
“Demand in the commercial market is forecast to more than double over the next two decades. To meet this demand, we forecast the number of jet airplanes will nearly double to 47,000 airplanes, at an average annual growth rate of 3.3 percent. To support this fleet growth, Boeing forecasts a need for more than 41,000 new deliveries, valued at over US$6 trillion, for growth and replacement over the next 20 years,” the US-based Boeing said in its latest 20-year aviation market forecast report.
Separately, the European aerospace giant Airbus said in its 2017-2036 Global Market Forecast titled “Growing Horizons”, the aviation industry’s growth is contingent upon the GDP, tourism, growing affluence and urbanization in India, China and other emerging markets, liberalization, immigration and visa simplification, among other factors.
“For the next 20 years, the Airbus GMF forecasts a 4.4% global annual air traffic growth, despite some downward revision of future economic growth by a number of forecasters in several regions of the world. In our forecast the first decade will enjoy a 4.9% increase per year, with 4.1% average annual growth for the last decade, a lower figure but growth in those years based on absolute traffic numbers higher than today,” it said.
The UN body tasked to oversee the global aviation industry, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), said the scenario calls for more women to get engaged in the sector.
“Aviation globally is expanding. Over the coming decades, hundreds of thousands of new pilots, air traffic controllers, maintenance professionals and other skilled workers and managers will need to be recruited, and women in aviation, both young and old, will be critical to how effectively aviation meets these challenges,” said Dr. Fang Liu, the current Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN body.
Liu, the first woman to hold the position at ICAO, said the agency is widening its outreach to all girls and women about the professional and personal growth opportunities that await them in the aviation sector. Apart form that, the agency also introduced flagship programs –Young Aviation Professionals Program, which is administered in collaboration with IATA and ACI, and an Aviation Scholarship Program in collaboration with IAWA.
Women in Aviation and Air Cargo
Women had made giant leaps in the general aviation sector more than 100 years since the first plane was invented. Their presence is equally felt in the space industry, aerospace technology and even military aviation.
But gender diversity and balance remain important issues that many industrialized countries and organizations try to change.
In the United States, only more than 5 percent of its estimated 554,177 licensed pilots in 2014 are women.
In Mexico, the ratio of women in the industry against men is just 2.33 percent; 5.6 percent in Japan, 7.6 percent in France, based on records from Airman Database. No statistics are available for the Middle East and Africa.
Liana Coyne, the Oxford educated lawyer who now runs the family-owned Coyne Airways office in Dubai, said while it is true that the air cargo industry appear to be male-dominated, it boils down to a person’s passion in working for the industry.
“I am hard-pushed to think of any but a handful of performing arts professions that can only be undertaken by a particular gender. Certainly in aviation and logistics (as well as law), I think that the right person for a particular job comes down to that particular person’s experience and attributes, rather than whether they are male or female,” she told Air Cargo Update in an email interview.
“However, it is true that there does seem to be a preponderance of men in our industry and the question is why,” she added.
In Africa, women’s presence in both aviation and air cargo are very much felt. Several major airports and airlines in the continent are managed by women who are entrusted with different executive and technical positions customarily seen among men in Westernized countries.
Nina Malherbe, a senior specialist cargo at Airports Company South Africa, is one of them. As a technical specialist, she says she has to continually educate herself in the field and bring out the best in whatever she does.
As a cargo specialist she watches the market carefully to make the company make an informed decision for its future projects. For instance, how to optimize terminal space in difficult times.
Malherbe says the Middle East and Africa are the main markets of South Africa when it comes to perishables. Their company is increasing its capacity in anticipation of market increase over the next few years.
“We’ve done some internal studies feasibilities & initial considerations for our projects,” she said, noting that they’re fortunate their activities are insulated from South Africa’s ongoing political conflict.
“We’re dependent on lots of external markets so whatever happens in the political arena, the markets carry on. There’s always the global market to consider,” she added.
Her colleague, Khanyisile Mabuza, account manager cargo & remote sites at ACSA, says being a woman in the industry inspires her to do better.
She is particularly interested in bringing more technological advancements in Africa to speed up the process of exporting and importing goods.
“e-Commerce and airport digitalization are very important for us. The whole world is going paperless. That infrastructure will make us global,” she said.
Coyne said the disproportionate number of women in air freight may have stemmed from their early exposure in life as well as passion for what we do later on.
“I think that boys are more likely than girls to be socialised with toy trucks, boats and airplanes, and some of those boys develop a fascination with the tools of our trade. This childhood love can plant a seed of interest which may grow later. Further, some people get their first exposure to aviation and logistics in the armed forces and armed forces tend to be predominantly male,” she said.
“Now, I would never suggest that the way to get more women into aviation and logistics is to force them to play with particular toys in childhood or make them sign up for armed service, but I think that, as an industry, we have to get better at getting people excited about what we do and explaining how it affects lives,” she added. “The truth is we have a good story and one that is worth telling. It is one of the reasons why it is difficult to find someone working in our industry who is not passionate about it.”
Global mission
Shaesta Waiz, the Afghan-American pilot, on a mission to circumnavigate the world to inspire other young women to pursue their dreams and encourage them to take up courses related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), said women can excel in aviation just like men.
Born in a refugee camp in the United States where her family fled in 1987 during the Soviet-Afghan war era, Waiz grew up in a poor neighborhood in Richmond, California, along with her five sisters.
Dropping out of school in that district was so common, she thought she’d end up getting married at a young age & start a big family. But life made a twist for Waiz when she dreamt of becoming a pilot.
Waiz sent herself to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, one of the prestigious in the country, through various scholarships.
When it was time to finance her flight trainings, Waiz created the Women’s Ambassador Program mentoring young women to pursue education in aviation and engineering. In exchange, the university waived her fees while working on her flying hours.
“If you have the passion for aviation but you cannot afford it, my advice is number one, apply for every available scholarship. Two, look for opportunities where you can get involved with companies,” she said.
“It’s constantly at the back of my mind. I’m no different than you or the girl in Africa, we are all humans. I didn’t come from a family who has money. I didn’t come from a family from aviation but I found something that I love—flying,” she added.
In 2016, Waiz founded Dreams Soar, a nonprofit organization, promoting STEM globally in collaboration with ICAO. This year, she has so far made 30 stops in 22 countries, including the UAE. Each stop she made an outreach event inspiring young women of different colors and backgrounds.
“I started Dreams Soar to share my story with women around the world, to let them know it is possible to achieve your dreams, regardless of the challenges and traditions you may face,” said Waiz. “Every time I open the door to an aircraft, I ask myself, “How did a girl with my background become so lucky?” The truth is anyone can be me.”

Valentina Tereshkova- First woman in space

Parachuting as a hobby leads Russian to become world’s first woman in space

You probably never heard of Valentina Tereshkova.

But the Russian astronaut, now 80 years old, is an important part of space history. She was the first woman to orbit space at age 26.

Born on March 6, 1937 in Bolshoye Maslennikovo, a village in western Russia, Valentina didn’t enter school until she was eight. Her father was a tractor driver who died during World War II. And her mother worked in a textile factory, according to historical accounts.

She left school to begin working in a textile factory when she was 17 but continued pursuing her love for parachuting as a hobby. Her extraordinary passion for parachuting, now more popularly known as skydiving, led her way to the Soviet Union’s cosmonaut program.

Four women, including Valentina, were successfully trained for the program. She later emerged as the top choice to be sent to space.

On June 16, 1963, Valentina made history when she orbited earth 48 times aboard Vostok 6. She went back to earth after three days parachuting from 20,000 feet and given the title Hero of the Soviet Union when she landed.

“It was very difficult to control the descent. At a height of seven kilometres, I catapulted out of my capsule and parachuted down to Earth. I was very familiar with parachutes because I was a sky diver before,” she said in one of her interviews recalling the day she went back to earth.
Valentina later became an important member of the Communist Party, graduating with distinction from the Zhukovsky Military Air Academy in 1969.

Though Valentina never went back to space, she turned her sight to greater diplomatic and political roles for the Soviet Union. In 1975, she represented the USSR at the United Nations conference for the International Women’s Year.

She headed the Soviet Committee for Women from 1968-1987, was pictured on postage stamps and had a crater on the moon named after her.

Today, Valentina remains an active campaigner for women to get engaged in space exploration.
“More women should actively participate in space flight. There are many well educated women working in the space industry; they are very good candidates,” she said in one of her many famous quotes.

CHAMP’s TRAXON Global Customs extends to 50+ countries worldwide

More and more customs authorities worldwide request advance customs information. CHAMP Cargosystems monitors the customs initiatives worldwide and ensures that its well-known customs solution TRAXON Global Customs (TGC) evolves accordingly whilst re-enforcing its position as a truly global customs solution for the air cargo community. Over the past nine months, TGC has extended its reach to another ten countries, enabling carriers to comply with the latest customs regulations for more than 50 countries worldwide – all through an all-in-one platform.
The latest countries available in TGC for advance electronic filing include:

• Philippines
• United Arab Emirate – Abu Dhabi
• Kyrgyzstan
• Nicaragua
• Canada
• Ghana
• The Maldives
• Jamaica
• Russia
• Nigeria

“Advance filing for customs is very important to our customers in air cargo,” says Nicholas Xenocostas, Vice President Global Sales and Marketing at CHAMP Cargosystems. “Airlines expand their route network all the time. With CHAMP and our continuously evolving TGC solution, carriers can rest assured to invest in a future-proof solution for their compliance needs, one that is able to facilitate the dynamic customs requirements for more than 50 countries in a fast and reliable manner.”

Since 2005, TRAXON Global Customs has delivered the efficiency and reliability of any CHAMP product to Advance Electronic Filing for air cargo shipments. The interactive compliance service is an all-in-one platform that eliminates the need for multiple advance filing solutions. With its smart features of proactive reporting and alert functionality, the client can always be one step ahead of related problems, avoid customs fines, and comply with the newest regulations.

Boeing HorizonX invests in advanced materials producer Gamma Alloys

Boeing recently announced its investment in Valencia, Calif.-based Gamma Alloys, a leader in aluminum alloys focused on developing advanced metal-matrix composites for use in aerospace, automotive and other industries.

This investment by Boeing HorizonX Ventures, which was established earlier this year, is its first in advanced materials and machining development and applications.

“The wear, strength, durability and machining characteristics of Gamma’s materials have the opportunity to further reduce the weight of our products,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing HorizonX. “The traction that Gamma Alloys has gained in automotive, energy and aerospace reinforces our confidence that Gamma has a unique set of materials.”

Gamma Alloys, founded in 2008, is pursuing breakthroughs in nano-reinforced aluminum alloys, where the aluminum is reinforced with microscopic particles, or nanoparticles. These alloys provide increased stiffness, improved wear resistance, and greater strength than current materials across a wider range of temperatures. Gamma Alloys is particularly focused on custom solutions where design engineers are currently limited in what they can create with traditionally available materials.

“With funding from Boeing, we will explore compelling applications across demanding industries such as aerospace while accelerating our nanoparticle material development and the full-scale industrialization of our manufacturing processes,” said Gamma Alloys CEO Mark Sommer. “The decision to choose Boeing HorizonX Ventures was simple – the opportunity to partner with Boeing was too compelling to pass up.”

By leveraging the power of the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing HorizonX invests in new business ventures to unlock the next generation of game-changing ideas, products, and markets. The Boeing HorizonX Ventures portfolio includes investments in autonomous systems technology, wearable enabled technologies, augmented reality systems, hybrid-electric propulsion and artificial intelligence. HorizonX also seeks unique business opportunities and non-traditional partnerships for the company’s aerospace technology using disruptive innovations and business strategies.

Chicago-based Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries.

London Heathrow introduces automatic processes for passengers

A new payment method is being introduced at London Heathrow Airport, which will see a cardless and cashless process for passengers.

Plaza Premium Lounges is one of the first outlets at Heathrow to launch the payment method, known as Alipay, across all the terminals it operates in.

Alipay is a popular, eWallet payment system based in China which provides a secure way to shop and store money and all transactions are carried out safely through the Alipay website, either by searching for the outlet name or by scanning a QR code via a mobile phone, tablet or other technical devices.

The payment method is already popular within the travel industry with many airlines and airports across the world already accepting the electronic payment process such as Aeroflot, Vanilla Air and Emirates.

Amin Amin, general manager of the United Kingdom arm of Plaza Premium Group, said: “Alipay is already a successful and well-known brand across East Asia and we’re proud to be able to bring the concept to Europe and the UK, but more importantly be the first brand to bring it to
London Heathrow Airport through our lounges, proving that once again Plaza Premium Group has a strong desire to do be one step ahead of our competitors which in turn gives a better customer experience.

“Alipay is a slick, easy and convenient way of paying in an ever-growing technology led age that is becoming ever-less reliant on cash and card payments and means that passengers that use our services won’t find the need to ensure that they carry various kinds of currency for the
destinations that they will visit.”

Payment methods that work in association with Alipay include Visa, Mastercard and American Express and it was launched in China in 2004 and Zapper is the UK company that facilitates Alipay.

Stephen Glenfield, digital manager at Heathrow, said: “We are constantly developing technology to adapt to the diverse needs of our passengers.

“We are delighted that Plaza Premium have become the first independent UK lounge to embrace Alipay, ensuring East Asian customers have a seamless and improved experience every time they travel through Heathrow.”

United Airlines enhances its mobile app for easy management

United Airlines has debuted enhancements to its mobile app that add even more convenience for customers to manage their reservations on-the-go.

With the newest version of the United app, customers will be able to change and cancel flights in the app, add their MileagePlus and United Club cards to the Apple Wallet and access other helpful travel tools.

These updates build on the airline’s recent announcement to allow customers to access boarding passes for 19 other carriers through its mobile app.

“Every day 800,000 customers rely on our mobile app to book reservations, view flight statuses, check-in and access a variety of other handy travel tools we’ve made available through our app,” said Linda Jojo, chief digital officer at United.

“We’re constantly making updates to the app that help our customers manage their travel with us at the touch of a finger and access even more information about their flights as quickly and conveniently as possible.”

United continues to add convenience to the app, providing customers with more time saving tools to make changes or cancel flights directly in the app.

App users will select the option to either cancel or change flights under reservations details, and follow the steps to confirmation.

As this new feature debuts, certain reservations, such as reservations purchased through third parties, will continue to to allow customers to make changes.

Support for more reservations to be completed in the app will continue to expand in the coming weeks.

United will also now allow customers to store their United Club card and MileagePlus card in the Apple Wallet.

Adding these cards to the wallet will ensure customers always have their information handy when making reservations and checking into United Clubs.

United Club members will still scan their boarding passes to access United Club locations before their flight.

Members who do not have their MileagePlus number tied to their boarding pass will be able to show their electronic card, along with a same-day boarding pass for United Club access.

United recently launched a Track my bags beta in its app to allow customers to follow their bags throughout all the critical points of their journey.

With this new capability, customers will be able to see real-time updates of when the bag has been loaded onto a flight, unloaded from the flight and when it is available at baggage claim.

The carrier is also introducing a new feature for users whose devices are compatible with Apple’s 3D touch capability.

Customers will now be able to utilize Apple’s 3D touch to instantly navigate from their iPhone’s home screen to book a flight, check-in and view their flight status in the app.

FIATA signs MoU with GS1

The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with GS1 – a global standards organization to provide a framework for further cooperation on digitizing FIATA documents.

A joint working group has been set-up, using the GS1 global unique identification system, enabling FIATA forwarder members to become more efficient compared to the former “paperwork” and to improve the services they provide to their customers.

FIATA says the transport and logistics (T&L) industry provides the backbone of global trade by servicing customers and suppliers in global supply and demand chains and processes provide critical links in the global economy, interconnecting countless manufacturers, traders, retailers and service providers as parts of complex networks that serve many industries in all countries worldwide.

The association says as goods move from points of origin to points of destination, logistics services providers (freight forwarders, transporters and other stakeholders) must maintain control and visibility of these movements to make informed decisions that ensure the smooth flow of the goods to consumers.

FIATA says these services are expected to be faster, more reliable, more secure and transparent to satisfy ever-increasing consumer expectations.

Rapid developments in logistics, in response to evolving consumer requirements for real-time visibility across the entire domain of multi-modal transport, call for new solutions and closer cooperation between the two organisations.

FIATA’s Advisory Body Information Technology is following a step-by-step approach for identifying and migrating all of their documents into a digital platform, using the GS1 global unique identification system.

This project will enable the global FIATA community to offer high-quality intermodal solutions for the benefit of all supply chain stakeholders.