XPO Logistics appoints Kenneth Wagers as COO

XPO Logistics, Inc., recently announced that Kenneth Wagers has been appointed chief operating officer, with responsibility for the company’s operations in 32 countries. Troy Cooper, who formerly served as chief operating officer and transportation segment leader, has been promoted to the newly created position of president. Both roles are effective immediately.

Wagers’ career in the supply chain sector includes senior positions with three global leaders: Amazon.com, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and UPS. He was most recently with Amazon, where he had executive oversight of Amazon’s Worldwide Transportation and Logistics business (last mile, middle mile, and air and ocean cargo), as well as Amazon China operations, Prime Now and Amazon Fresh operations. With Dr Pepper Snapple Group, he held supply chain leadership positions in consumer packaged goods, including functional oversight of the retail business, direct store delivery operations, warehouses, manufacturing plants, procurement programs and operational controls. Earlier, over 17 years with UPS, he was instrumental in the expansion of 3PL services, including UPS Supply Chain Solutions, which provides supply chain design and management, freight forwarding, customs brokerage, mail services, multimodal transportation, consulting and finance services to customers. His extensive M&A experience with UPS includes the integrations of Mail Boxes Etc. (consumer shipping), Fritz Companies (freight forwarding, customs brokerage and logistics), Overnite Corp. (less-than-truckload) and Menlo Freight Forwarding. He holds a master’s degree in finance from Georgia State University, and is certified in the following disciplines: Six Sigma Green Belt, Lean Management, Time and Motion Study (Industrial Engineering) and Total Quality Management.

Bradley Jacobs said, “Kenny has a strong record of leading organizations during periods of rapid growth. His more than 20 years in global transportation and logistics — including e-commerce — give him the ideal skill set to deliver even more value to customers through our service offerings. He’s a big talent with a long history of accomplishments in our industry.”

Jacobs continued, “Troy has been a key member of my management teams for more than 20 years. He now has Kenny standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him as we continue to execute our strategy for high growth and high returns. I’m fortunate to have both of them by my side to lead our operations and help with the integration and optimization of future acquisitions.”

ACS shifts team to new office due to rapid growth

Air Charter Service (ACS) has moved its onboard courier team to a dedicated office next to Frankfurt Airport due to rapid growth.

The move comes three years after ACS announced revamping the division and is two years ahead of schedule.

ACS Time Critical Manager, Oliver Weigelt says contract numbers grew by more than 50 per cent last year to almost 1,700 jobs, with strong growth continuing in 2018.

He says, “Our team here in Frankfurt has grown so quickly that we needed to move from the ACS charter office to a new premises here at the airport sooner than we originally intended.

“The new office gives us the space to continue expanding as our business grows on a monthly basis. Kelsterbach, due to its close proximity to the airport, is the ideal place to have our operation.”

ACS Group commercial director, Justin Lancaster adds: “We’ve been investing heavily in our OBC offering and we’re very excited about the new office. This is a worldwide service and a 24-hour product – we now have more than 600 representatives globally who hold more than 40 different visas, meaning we can have someone on an aircraft within hours to almost anywhere in the world.”

Akbar Al Baker New IATA board chairman

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently announced that Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, has assumed his duties as Chairman of the IATA Board of Governors (BoG) for a one-year term effective from the conclusion of the 74th IATA Annual General Meeting in Sydney, Australia. Al Baker is the 77th chair of the IATA BoG and the first CEO from Qatar Airways to hold the position. He has served on the BoG since 2012. He succeeds Goh Choon Phong, CEO of Singapore Airlines.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, said, “I am delighted to be here in Sydney and honored to be leading the IATA Board of Governors as Chairman for the year ahead. To be nominated to such a prestigious leadership position in the industry is a great honor, made all the more pertinent in the difficult circumstances in which Qatar Airways currently operates.

“I look forward to continuing my work in the coming year for our great aviation industry, connecting safely the peoples of the world, a sector which will only continue to grow in the years ahead, and one in which I am most proud to work and represent one of the world leading airlines.”

Al-Baker was named Qatar Airways’ Group Chief Executive in 1997. In this position, Al Baker has spearheaded the growth of Qatar Airways from a small regional carrier into a major global. He was president of the 70th AGM, which was held in Doha in 2014.

“I want to thank Goh Choon Phong for his strong support and leadership over the past year. He has led major changes in IATA’s governance that will enable the association to work even more closely with its members. Under his leadership the industry approved a major modernization of our settlement systems, and made excellent progress on transformative initiatives such as New Distribution Capability and ONE Order. Choon Phong’s insights were particularly helpful as we contended with the PEDs ban and growing infrastructure capacity shortfalls in key regions, while also working with governments to prepare for the arrival of the historic CORSIA program to help airlines manage their future emissions growth,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“I am confident that Akbar will be a strong voice on behalf of the Business of Freedom in the face of growing challenges including creeping re-regulation and a movement away from open borders and toward trade protectionism and restrictions on the free movement of people. I look forward to working with him on these and other key industry issues,” said de Juniac.

IATA also announced that Carsten Spohr, Chairman and CEO of Lufthansa, will serve as Chairman of the BoG from June 2019, following Al Baker’s term.

Embraer names new executives for Commercial Aviation business unit

Embraer recently announced the appointment of Ron Baur as Senior Vice President Strategy and Hussein Dabbas as General Manager Special Projects for Middle East & Africa. Both executives joined the Commercial Aviation business unit to strengthen Embraer’s global marketing & sales team and report to Arjan Meijer, Chief Commercial Officer.

Ron Baur brings to Embraer over 25 years of experience acquiring mainline and regional aircraft for one of the largest airlines in the world. Prior to joining Embraer, Ron held positions of increasing responsibility in Operations and Finance at Continental and United Airlines culminating as the Vice President of Fleet at United Airlines. During Ron’s tenure, he managed a fleet of more than 1,200 mainline and regional aircraft and justified the acquisition of more than 750 new aircraft. Ron was responsible for launching aircraft such as the Boeing 787, 737-900ER, 737MAX10, Airbus A350-1000 and enhanced Embraer E175. Since 2016, he has been Board Member of Wings Club, an association based in New York that brings together leading professionals from the aviation industry.

Hussein Dabbas joins Embraer bringing 40 years of solid experience in corporate aircraft and airline business, having held several global leadership positions. At Royal Jordanian Airlines as Chief Executive Officer, President and Board Member, prior to that he managed all commercial and passenger activities, including Marketing and Sales, Airport and inflight Services, Catering and Product. As Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East at International Air Transport Association (IATA), he helped to promote and protect the interest of the air transport industry. He has been Board Member and Vice Chairman of the Arab Jordan Investment Bank.

“I am delighted to welcome Ron and Hussein to the team. They will bring a wealth of airline industry experience which will further enrich our global marketing and sales team and help create the best solutions for our customers,” says Arjan Meijer, Chief Commercial Officer.

Their remarkable professional experience and industry reputation bring to Embraer considerable strength, network and market presence.

Eric Born to step down as Swissport president and CEO

Eric Born will step down as Group president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Swissport International at the end of December 2018.

He has been in his role since August 2015, and Swissport says a successor will be announced in due course, and in the meantime Born will continue to perform his duties as group president and CEO.

Commenting on his departure, Born says, “It has been an exciting time at Swissport and I am very proud of the high-quality services our colleagues across the globe deliver to our customers every day.”

HNA Group CEO and chairman of Swissport, Adam Tan says, “Under Eric Born’s strategic and thoughtful leadership over the past three years, Swissport has cemented its place as the global leader in ground services and cargo handling for the aviation industry.

“On behalf of the entire board of directors, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to Eric for his many contributions to building a team and business that is extremely well positioned for continued success. We will be working together with him and the rest of the management team to effect a seamless leadership transition in the weeks and months ahead.”

CEVA renews contract with major technology customer with estimated over $100 million revenue

Baar, Switzerland, 4 July, 2018 – CEVA Logistics, one of the world’s leading third-party logistics companies, announces that it has renewed a global freight management contract with a major technology customer and has been awarded important additional services in Air and Ocean freight. CEVA estimates that existing and new business will exceed $100 million of revenue over the next twelve months, depending on actual volumes handled. CEVA has been working with the customer for more than 10 years and much expanded services over the timeframe.

Commenting on the new contract, CEVA’s CEO Xavier Urbain, says, “We are proud to retain and even expand our position as the No.1 freight service provider for this customer. This important award demonstrates the strong partnerships we have and the quality of service we provide to our customers.”

Cloud technology is the key to personalize South Africa’s travel experiences

For the travel industry, the customer’s experience is perhaps the most important variable in determining the long-term success of the business. Because of this, airlines, hotels and other travel-related operators are affected more by digital transformation than most.

According to the most recent Stats SA’s annual Tourism Satellite Account for South Africa report, the tourism sector directly contributed 2.9% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016. The sector has 686 596 employees and of the 15.8 million workers that are formally and informally employed in South Africa, 4.4% or 1 in every 23 were directly employed in the tourism sector.

In his State of the Nation (SONA) address, president Cyril Ramaphosa said there is no reason why the tourism sector can’t double in size. He referred to South Africa as the most beautiful country in the world with the most hospitable people and called on all South Africans to open their homes and their hearts to the world. Government is also enhancing support for destination marketing in key tourism markets and is taking further measures to reduce regulatory barriers and develop emerging tourism businesses.

According to Travelport’s The South African Digital Traveller Research report, 86% of South African travellers use travel booking sites while 82% consult review sites to help with ideas on which destinations to visit next. The report also indicates that mobile is a growing and important aspect of the booking experience with 35% of respondents using a smartphone and 38% a tablet to do their bookings.

With a wealth of information at their fingertips, customers now expect to coordinate their whole trip and make decisions regardless of where they are. Mobile integration is expected rather than desired – not just in the booking process but also during the trip.

Consumer expectations are changing significantly, and to thrive in today’s competitive environment, delivering a seamless, unique, hyper-personalised customer experience is critical. Travellers want to travel the world in their own way and the ability to serve up holidays tailored to the individual’s specific tastes can make a huge difference.

The industry is even beginning to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots, which are reducing pressure on customer service teams and providing faster access to services for travellers.

Personalizing the travel experience begins with understanding the traveller behavior, and predicting what they want before they even begin the booking process. The key lies in better data management, utilizing machine learning and AI to interpret user preferences in real-time, to serve up an experience unique to the individual, not just to improve conversion rates but also to offer a level of service that will keep travellers coming back for more.

Take for example Kenya Airways, it knew that if it was to achieve its goal of becoming not only Africa’s leading airline, but also a shining example of progress on the continent, it had to gain a more complete, individualized understanding of its customers. By using Oracle cloud-based tools the airline now knows a lot more about its guests based on data from multiple marketing, sales, and customer service channels; from booking to arrival including what their favorite meals are, what time of day they like to fly, as well as their wedding anniversary dates and birthdays. The airline is able to provide personalized offers that produce repeat business and prompt more feedback on its service levels.

Customers move in and out of the customer lifecycle fluidly and expect businesses to maintain the context of their previous interactions, regardless of the channel used. But, too often, businesses focus on separate experiences: in-store, online, and mobile. These distinctions create disconnected information, which leads to a disjointed customer experience. Instead, businesses in the tourism sector should integrate all of their customer data to give consumers more control and more convenient ways to shop, while seamlessly moving among their preferred channels.

KLM Airlines combines web search intent with the customer’s complete profile, to route customer service inquiries to the channel that will best serve the individual’s needs—and the company’s goals. For example, a high-value customer may be routed to a chat or phone agent instead of being directed to a web frequently asked question. With the help of intelligent chatbots that utilise natural language processing, KLM Airlines have increased online conversions by 30% annually.

Customers expect companies to know what they want, before they even show up. Price is no longer a differentiating factor for businesses and therefore the hospitality industry is under rising pressure to meet the needs of individuals rather than their customer base as a whole.

Emerging technologies based in cloud, such as AI and machine learning give customers a better experience across the entire travel journey – from prepping for their trip to booking it so that they have the best time at their final destination.

Providing superior, connected customer experiences is how to build loyalty and outdo the competition. South Africa’s travel and tourism operators must create loyal customers who can’t wait to interact with them again.

Emirates pioneers’ VR technology on its digital platform

Emirates has introduced 3D seat models on emirates.com, becoming the first airline to introduce web virtual reality (VR) technology on its digital platform. The 3D seat model is a visualization engine that displays an immersive 3D 360 degree view of the interior of the Emirates A380 and the Emirates Boeing 777, giving customers a chance to explore their seats, the spacious cabin and the Emirates onboard product.

This new feature available on emirates.com allows users to navigate through the Economy, Business and First Class cabins, as well as the iconic Onboard Lounge and Shower Spa on the Emirates A380 using navigational hotspots.

Alex Knigge, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand (Digital), said, “As we continually invest to provide our customers with an unmatched travel experience onboard and on the ground, we also work very hard to give our customers a world-class digital experience. We are pleased to be the world’s first airline to introduce this cutting edge web VR technology, which offers our customers an immersive opportunity to learn more about the fantastic Emirates experience before they step on board. In our usability tests with customers, we found that they particularly appreciated the 3D seat and cabin models when selecting their seats.”

The high-quality 3D generated graphics offer an outstanding render that is close to reality. The immersive experience is now available for the three class Emirates A380 but will soon include renderings of Emirates’ entire fleet including all configurations of the A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.

The 3D 360-degree views of the cabins also feature a virtual reality element for a more immersive experience. Users can enjoy hands-free cabin navigation and seat selection by using any VR headset like Google Cardboard. This award-winning technology is compatible with all devices without the need for external applications or plugins. The 3D seat models were created in partnership with Renacen who were awarded the Crystal Cabin for the best visionary concept for this project at the recent Crystal Cabin Awards.

Customers accessing emirates.com via their mobile devices or the Emirates app for iOS and Android will also be able to explore their seats before checking in online with the 3D seat map. The tool allows customers to navigate from one seat to another, and even allows would-be customers to book their preferred seats from within the 3D environment.

In addition to the new 3D cabin models, new product videos are available on emirates.com, which illustrate the end to end travel experience across all cabins. The videos serve as a guide, giving new customers a clear idea of all the unique features of the Emirates travel experience. Emirates also continue to conduct frequent usability studies with customers and frequent flyers in different geographies to identify further opportunities to enhance its digital user experience.

Brussels Airport unveils blockchain technology

Recently during the Air China Cargo exhibition in Shanghai, Brussels Airport and their cargo community won the award for ‘IT solution of the year’ with BRUcloud. BRUcloud is an open data-sharing platform based on Nallian’s data technology on which different applications can be build. Today, Brussels Airport announces the launch of its first application using blockchain technology, strengthening their frontrunner position in digital innovation in the air cargo industry.

BRUcloud is the open data sharing platform for the BRUcargo community launched in 2016. Compared to other cargo community systems, the BRUcloud’s main priority is not digitizing the existing messages and communication between the different actors, but making data sharing in a cloud environment possible. “It enables the different stakeholders of the air cargo supply chain to work more “integrated” and act as a network. Data will be stored only once, centrally. Once a company is connected to the cloud, it can start using the different existing applications and can start exchanging information very easily with other stakeholders instead of maintaining system-to-system connections with all different partners individually”, explains Sara Van Gelder, Cargo Business Development Manager at Brussels Airport.

This new application using blockchain technology is a next step in the ‘Landsite Management tool’ Brussels Airport is developing together with its stakeholders at BRUcargo. The app will closely cooperate with already existing apps such as the Slot Booking App, or future to be developed apps. Focus of this next phase is on making the import process paperless, more efficient and transparent. It fully contributes to the Brussels Airport strategic objective to have a digitalized logistical flow in place supported by a combination of applications offered via the BRUcloud platform.

“The new Freight Management App 1.0 will replace the handover of cargo from handlers to forwarder from a paper-based process by a digital rights / release process,” says Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo & Logistics at Brussels Airport and Chairman of the community organization Air Cargo Belgium. “The support of all our stakeholders, from gathering ideas to implementing new tools and applications, is crucial in the success of our BRUcloud platform.” And Steven continues: “Therefore we were extremely pleased that several of our stakeholders where there together with us when we won the award in Shanghai, since this award really is a recognition for each and every individual and company that joined us on this adventure we started some years ago.”

One of the companies supporting the development of the BRUcloud at Brussels Airport from the beginning is DHL Global Forwarding. They are very active in the different working groups of Air Cargo Belgium but also as a company very much involved. “DHL Global Forwarding is pro-actively seeking supply chain visibility and transparency tools and improvement areas, in order to facilitate the supply chain of our customers. We firmly believe that an increasing transparency and reliability will decrease the overall supply chain costs in the future. We support initiatives as the community platform BRUcloud, to support the industry in creating innovative tools to improve the logistic chain” stated Luc Jacobs CEO DHL Global Forwarding Belgium and Luxemburg.

David Bellon, Air Freight Director of DHL Global Forwarding and Vice Chairman of Air Cargo Belgium adds to that, “The air cargo industry needs to increase its efforts on further digitizing its processes, this to create transparency and real time visibility meanwhile improving the quality of the output. With Air Cargo Belgium and the community platform BRUcloud at Brussels Airport, DHL Global Forwarding has found the right collaborative environment to enhance the air cargo processes through technology and data exchange. We are proud to have been the frontrunner in such initiative.”

Another strong supporter is ground handler WFS. Regional Vice President Marc Claesen comments, “WFS Belgium is a proud early participant of the BRUcloud project at Brussels, initiated by Brussels Airport. For WFS, this is the way forward in a rapidly changing industry, whereby expectations from stakeholders will only be met in the future by those companies who believe in modernization and industry data sharing. We are glad to be an early adaptor of this unique tool and platform and believe that this is only the start of a very promising development whereby the cargo industry as a whole will benefit, with Brussels taking a leading pioneer role”.

Digitization of freight transport, logistics vital for growth

As the GCC countries pursue economic diversification and sustainable growth plans, the need to digitize the freight transportation and logistics industry (T&L) is becoming increasingly important. At present, the T&L industry in the GCC, which is one of the key drivers of economic activity in the region, faces a combined threat of declining business revenue and outdated infrastructure, according to a recent study by management consultancy Strategy& Middle East (formerly Booz & Company), part of the PwC network.

The study reveals that freight revenue in the region grew at a steady pace of about 10% from 201o to 2014, but since then has seen a decline of 5% per year due to low oil prices, which has resulted in a decline in imports, businesses scaling back projects and governments spending less on freight infrastructure.

The region’s T&L industry significantly lags behind its peers in developed markets when it comes to the use of emerging technologies or investing in new digital solutions. Adding to the dilemma of regional T&L companies is the constant flood of new technologies, which can be confusing if not well understood when, and what to apply it for.

Commenting on this challenge faced by the T&L companies, Dr Ulrich Koegler, partner with Strategy& Middle East, said, “Rather than choosing from an ever-changing range of available technologies, T&L leaders must first determine their business objectives, and then identify the right application of technology to meet those objectives.”

Digital solutions offer two key benefits to T&L companies. One benefit is increased operational efficiency, and the other benefit is it allows for the redesign of business models.

Jean Salamat, principal with Strategy& Middle East added, “Digital solutions can increase operational efficiency of T&L companies by reducing operating costs up to 10-30% and minimizing operational risks and breakdowns by 75%. This is critical at a time when the industry is facing financial pressure and lower freight volumes. Deploying new digital solutions also allow companies to fundamentally redesign their existing business models to enhance the customer experience as well as create new avenues for value-creation and revenue growth.”

The Strategy& Middle East report identifies the nine essential technologies that GCC T&L players can adopt and areas these technologies can effectually support. These include:

Big data analytics – transferring physical goods to managing information and goods, Internet of things – facilitates real-time information to support decision-making and improve operations,
On-demand mobility – supports with getting real-time data securely and reliably into the hands of those who need it,
Robotics automation – for fully automated loading and unloading operations
Drones – for immediate delivery solutions,
3D printing – on-site manufacturing solutions as new delivery concepts or to optimize maintenance operations,
Blockchain – eliminates the need for distributors or other intermediaries,
Cloud – provides flexible, scalable, and commoditized IT infrastructure, AND
Augmented reality – for simplified and efficient operations,
Camil Tahan, principal with Strategy& Middle East, said, “With the implementation of digital technologies, T&L companies will radically have a new way of working. It is, therefore, important for companies to structure their approach and consider a framework regardless of which technology they choose to prioritize.”

Before embarking on digital transformation, T&L companies must first define their digital business strategy and / or rethink their business model. Next, they need to think about the digital solutions that will enhance their customer interaction. They then need to lock down the choice of technology based on their roles within the value chain. T&L companies also need to invest in upgrading their digital skills particularly in cybersecurity and data mining. Finally, T&L players need to re-engineer their business and operation processes to capitalize on the new digital tools.

Digitization is rapidly disrupting different sectors, and T&L companies in other markets are already capitalizing on this trend. It is, therefore, imperative for GCC T&L companies to start embracing the use of digital technologies to support and engine the region’s economic aspirations.