LATAM Cargo transports stem cells as part of ‘Solidary Plane’ program

LATAM Cargo’s crew played a crucial role in successfully accomplishing this trip, which required the pilots to guard the cells in an unprecedented process during the flight from Viracopos (Campinas, Brazil) to Ezeiza (Buenos Aires).

On Friday, April 17, at 20:58 local time, the crew of a Boeing 767 started an exceptional LATAM Cargo flight from Viracopos International Airport (Brazil) to Ministro Pistarini International Airport (Buenos Aires). This flight had a special mission: to transport cells in the airplane’s cabin. The aircraft arrived at Ezeiza at 23:44 local time with the cells guarded by part of the crew team and the hope of saving the life of a patient suffering from myelodysplastic syndrome.

Freighter aircraft are currently the only ones enjoying more international freedom of transit due to their relevance to global supply chains. Hence, the Solidary Plane program becomes an opportunity to contribute to vital cases like this one.

After being contacted by INCUCAI, LATAM Cargo committed to transporting the stem cells. In order to accomplish this, a multidisciplinary team from LATAM Group—composed of more than 30 people—promptly planned the operation and crew training necessary for the transportation and manipulation of the stem cells.

This trip is part of the company’s Solidary Plane program which has addressed health needs for nine years in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. The program facilitates the transportation of patients that require medical treatment, multidisciplinary health teams, organs, tissues, stem cells and medicine as well as medical supplies.

“In a pandemic situation, freighter flights become more important than ever, and programs such as the Solidary Plane become hope. We are facing the largest crisis in our history, but we will make every effort possible so one of our flights can provide a person with a lifetime opportunity,” stated Luis Eduardo Melnik, LATAM Cargo’s captain, who flew the airplane carrying the stem cells.

INCUCAI is the body that promotes, regulates, co-ordinates and monitors organ, tissue and cell donation/transplant activity in Argentina.

“This pandemic is challenging all of us and working methods are changing, but, fortunately, we are being successful in providing ill patients with bone marrow transplants from foreign donors. In this case, thanks to a donor from Brazil and LATAM Cargo’s support, a patient from Argentina will be transplanted,” they stated.

Pharma.Aero reveals new members to its air pharma network

Pharma.Aero has revealed two new Full Members to its air pharma network: Etihad Cargo and Air India SATS.
Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of Etihad Airways, positions itself as the first Middle East airline to hold both of IATA’s CEIV Fresh and CEIV Pharma certifications, and one of the two carriers globally to claim this dual honour.

Andre Blech, head of cargo operations and delivery at Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Our
membership with Pharma.Aero is a testament to the progress Etihad Cargo has made over the past 18 months as we continue to drive forward our ambition to provide reliable end-to-end air transportation for perishable and pharmaceutical shippers.”

Air India SATS, being a joint venture between Air India Limited and SATS Limited, was formed with the vision to provide world-class airport services in ground and cargo handling solutions to its customer airlines.

“We are delighted to be a part of the Pharma.Aero ecosystem. To be included in their network is a key milestone for AISATS as we pursue industry collaboration to aid our long-term goal of building a pharma corridor in India. As an industry leader in air cargo, we are committed to driving strategic growth, overcome new challenges, and support our industry to achieve excellence in reliable end-toend air transportation for pharma shippers,” said Ravinder Bolangdy, head cargo, AISATS.

Nathan De Valck, chairman of Pharma.Aero confirmed: “We welcome Etihad Cargo and AISATS into the Pharma.Aero community and look forward to their active contribution in our project groups to further improve air pharma handling processes in collaboration with the pharmaceutical manufacturers. As the first Middle East carrier to join Pharma.Aero, Etihad Cargo marks the expansion of our global membership into that region. Air India SATS will further strengthen the very active Indian community within the Pharma.Aero network.”

As part of the ‘Solidary Plane’ program, for the first time in the region, LATAM Cargo has transported cells for a patient from Argentina. With closed-border policies worldwide and a low flight demand caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, LATAM Cargo has become an ally to support organ, tissue and stem cell transportation.

Dubai Customs pushes shipping against tide of coronavirus

Dubai Customs continues its recognizable role in facilitating legitimate trade, enhancing the national economy and supporting the national efforts against the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Q1,2020, around 24.314m tons of goods passed through Dubai Customs’ sea and air shipping centers despite the international economic downturn due to the pandemic crisis. Dubai Customs’ inspectors are working very hard on the frontline to ensure smooth and streamlined flow of goods into the local, regional and international markets.

Dubai Customs has equipped its inspection officers across all its centers with the safety gear and equipment to protect them from any exposure to the virus. Following the strict guidelines which include social distancing and wearing gloves and masks is not an option for all inspectors, employees and clients.

“Dubai Customs is playing an increasingly important role during this difficult time to secure borders, trade and international supply chain,” said Dr Abdullah Busnad, Executive Director of Customs Inspection Division. “We work hard to ensure safety to everyone during the outbreak of covid-19 and at the same time to secure the supply chain and handle goods and different commodities, especially food commodities, during this difficult time. Our people in Dubai Customs are our real assets, and by following the wise directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai we will overcome this challenge.”

Following the stimulus package plan announced by Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Customs extended a refund of 20 per cent on the customs fees imposed on imported products sold locally in Dubai markets from 15th March to 30th June.
Dhows and all ships registered locally are exempted of any berthing fees. The package also includes the cancellation of the Dhs 50,000 bank guarantee or cash required to undertake customs clearance activity. Bank guarantee or cash paid by existing customs clearance companies will be refunded.

Aircraft movements decline 49.9% in March

In March, Singapore Changi Airport saw aircraft movements decline by 49.9% to 16,200 landings and takeoffs, while airfreight throughput dropped 19.1% to 149,000 tons for the month.

Air travel demand remained significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. For the last seven days of the month, passenger movements at Changi Airport were 98% lower than they were a year ago. Flight movements similarly declined sharply during the same period, by 87% year-on-year. The fall in airfreight throughput during the month was impacted by the decrease in bellyhold capacity on passenger flights. Both import and export flows have also seen contraction.

For the first quarter of the year, airfreight throughput fell 8% to 453,000 tons.

Kalitta Air launched 4x weekly freighter service to Changi Airport on April 2, connecting to Anchorage, Cincinnati, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Sydney. On April 12, Sichuan Airlines commenced new freighter operations at Changi with a weekly freighter service connecting Singapore to Chongqinq and Nantong.

Bahrain’s F1 circuit to build COVID-19 ventilators and share blueprints worldwide

MANAMA: Bahrain’s legendary F1 circuit will produce hundreds of ventilators for COVID-19 patients – and vowed to share the blueprints free of charge worldwide.

Engineers from the track, which hosts the Grand Prix championship race each year, designed the breathing apparatus in just two weeks for non-ICU patients in need of respiratory assistance.

The device was then built from scratch in partnership with intensive care doctors from Salmaniya Medical Complex’s Respiratory Therapy Department and Medical Equipment Department.

Now an order has been placed for the first 100 machines following extensive testing and approval by Bahrain’s Ministry of Health.

Bahrain International Circuit says it is sharing the blueprints free of charge to organizations around the world amid global efforts to increase ventilator capacity.

Initially, two different machines were designed and both have been approved – the first by design team lead and BIC mechanical engineer Kamel Al-Taan and the other by Tareq AlTajer.

“At a time of global crisis, we have been seeking ways in which the BIC can support the fight against COVID-19,” said Fayez Ramzy Fayez, Chief Operating Officer at Bahrain International Circuit. “Our engineers have met that challenge by designing a ventilator system specifically to support those suffering from COVID-19. As this is a global effort, we are happy to make these designs available to other organizations around the world who are seeking to find similar solutions.”

Bahrain International Circuit has hosted the annual Formula One Championship since 2004, but this year the race was postponed as a precautionary measure.

Instead, a virtual Grand Prix was held featuring celebrities and F1 drivers including Lando Norris and One Direction star Liam Payne. The eventual winner was Formula 2 racer Guanyou Zhou who soared into the lead from third on the grid, finishing a full 11.392s over ex-McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

Apple & Google team-up to create Covid-19 tracking tool

SILICON VALLEY: Tech giants Apple & Google announced they are teaming up to create a Covid-19 tracking tool using Bluetooth technology which people can download on their smartphones.

The app, scheduled to be launched this May, is designed to help in contract tracing of people suspected to be infected with the Coronavirus. Worldwide, more than 3 million cases were confirmed and over 200,000 have died due to the virus.

The tech giants said their joint effort will help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design.

“Since COVID-19 can be transmitted through close proximity to affected individuals, public health officials have identified contact tracing as a valuable tool to help contain its spread. A number of leading public health authorities, universities, and NGOs around the world have been doing important work to develop opt-in contact tracing technology,” the tech firms said.

Apple and Google said a comprehensive solution that includes application programming interfaces (APIs) and operating system-level technology to assist in enabling contact tracing will be launched in two steps.

This month, both companies will release APIs that will enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

In the coming months, Apple and Google said they will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms, a more robust solution than an API and will allow more individuals to participate.

“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life,” the tech giants said in a joint press statement.

The best MAN ever is here

The best MAN ever is here and made its debut at the Spanish port city of Bilbao in February 2020.

The new MAN Truck Generation, launched nearly 20 years after the introduction of the MAN TGA in the global trucking industry, is the remarkable result of five years of intense research and development, 12 million hours of passionate work, 2,100 people directly involved in the project – and the pride of more than 36,000 dedicated MAN employees worldwide, according to MAN Truck & Bus SE.

Dr. Frederik Zohm, Chief Research and Development Officer at MAN Truck & Bus SE, the new MAN substantially and sustainably incorporated feedback from transport companies and drivers resulting to a high-powered, tech-laden durable truck that offers both comfort and efficiency never before seen.

Zohm said engineers programmed 2.8 million lines of software code for the new central computer for the new MAN truck generation which endured over 4 million test kilometers on the road.

Joachim Drees, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus SE, described the new MAN truck generation as “simplifying business” that will transform the company’s focus more on the customer and their needs.

Geared for the future

MAN Truck & Bus said its newly developed truck generation is consistently oriented towards the changing requirements of the transportation industry and sets new standards for – among other things – assistance systems, driver orientation and digital networking.

The new truck generation, thus, represents the development of MAN Truck & Bus from vehicle manufacturer to a provider of intelligent and sustainable transport solutions.

With fuel savings of up to 8 percent, the new MAN Truck Generation achieves significant reductions in CO2. The newly developed turn assist helps to prevent serious accidents in urban traffic – four years before the legally prescribed introduction.

The lane change assistant also warns the driver of vehicles in the next lanes. MAN has involved customers and drivers in the development of the new MAN Truck Generation from the beginning, so that their requirements could consistently be made part of the new vehicle.

It follows in the footsteps of legendary series, the MAN TGA, which was presented in 2000, formative for truck construction. Not only does the new MAN Truck Generation follow suit, it also brings a new level of comfort, safety, efficiency, reliability, service as well as connectivity and digitalization.

Simplifying Business

Today, the requirements in all areas of the transportation industry are more diverse and complex than ever – forecasts for the future indicate that fundamental transformation of the industry is in “full gear”.

This brings great challenges with it – the transport volume in the EU alone is to increase by an additional 40 percent in the next 20 years. At the same time, strict legal regulations are intended to reduce CO2 emissions by 15 percent by 2025 (with an additional reduction by 30 percent by 2030).

To make matters worse, there is a growing shortage of drivers. According to current estimations, in Germany, there will be a shortage of around 150,000 qualified professional drivers in the next two years alone. Additionally, increasingly comprehensive digitalization across all logistics processes sets a fast pace for transport companies.

“Our customers expect us to provide them with answers to these questions, and rightly so,” summarizes Joachim Drees, the MAN Chairman of the Executive Board. “For their sake, we need to be one step ahead of these changes with all their direct and indirect effects. This is a huge, but at the same time, extremely exciting task – it means that we need to think in different, new dimensions as the manufacturer of our products. We do this with our new truck generation.”

Drees said this is why the new MAN truck generation offers everything which customers and drivers have always valued and expected from their MAN vehicles – only even better.

It unites tried-and-true virtues with developments which are absolutely future-oriented, in order to take the burden off freight forwarders and drivers and make their daily work easier, despite increasingly complex framework conditions. In doing so, MAN is focusing on four core topics: the driver in their work place, the vehicle’s efficiency and its reliable usability, as well as the strong and competent partnership for customers.

Excellent driver fit

In order to optimize the work place in the truck and to adjust it to better meet the daily requirements of the driver, their performance and motivation need to be placed at the forefront. After all, the decisive building blocks for a transport company’s economic success are the commitment and satisfaction of drivers.

MAN Truck & Bus said this is why the new MAN Truck Generation sets standards in terms of user-friendliness, optimum ergonomics, operation which is more intuitive and reliable, networking with digital devices and applications and, last but not least, optimum space, a well-thought-out storage concept and perfect sleeping comfort – all this geared towards needs which were determined based on experience.

MAN had consistently included the expertise and feedback of drivers and business people throughout the entire development process. Modern assistance systems such as the newly developed turn assist, the traffic jam assistant as well as lane change assist reduce the strain on the driver and ensure increased safety in road traffic.

Great efficiency & economical

The Euro 6d engine range, introduced back in 2019, realizes its full efficiency potential with the new MAN Truck Generation. The perfect interplay of the units with additional, newly developed consumption-reducing driveline and software components provides the future series with a trailblazing level of efficiency.

In this way, the new MAN Truck Generation saves up to eight percent of fuel compared to the Euro 6c predecessor version in classic long-haul transport applications, and thus achieves a clear reduction in Co2.

The improved aerodynamics of the new vehicle design also play their part in this reduction. Furthermore, MAN offers additional targeted and practice-oriented training and instruction options with digital applications, in order to support drivers in even more efficient driving methods.

Comprehensive product improvements for components and in the areas of maintenance and service reduce service life costs. Likewise, the new MAN truck generation offers significant payload advantages for weight-sensitive application sectors.

How “good” a truck is when it is in use largely depends on how efficiently and easily it fulfils its transport task. An important parameter here is reliability. MAN says it endeavors to make the tried and true even better with the new truck generation, in order to ensure the long-standing product quality (which is repeatedly confirmed in the TÜV report) for the future as well.

Take for example the newly developed, simplified, powerful and future-proof electronics architecture, which will significantly improve and expand the functionalities of the trucks.

Additionally, a comprehensively further developed, digitalized maintenance management system reduces operating costs and ensures maximum availability of the new MAN TG vehicles. Fleet management and drivers are supported through numerous digital functionalities and services.

“At the same time as the new truck generation, MAN is introducing a new consultation and offer system which is entirely oriented towards the needs of the customer. It follows a product logic which is consistently oriented towards the application profile. This allows for a new MAN TGX, TGS, TGM or TGL to be put together into a truck that fits the exact transport task, using comprehensively adjustable and flexible configuration options.

“This includes individually coordinated services from maintenance, financing and digital services, which make the truck a holistic, integrated transport solution – all this from a single source, with competent personal contact partners. Furthermore, MAN Individual provides a comprehensive portfolio of options to enhance the vehicle and make customer-specific adaptations ex-works.”

MAN Truck & Bus says the claim of the new MAN truck generation of “Simply my Truck” is not just a slogan, but a significant foundation for development – to find out how the ideal work place and living space in a truck should be designed first hand. Source:

DHL turns to Neo floor-scrubbing robots to keep warehouses hubs and terminals clean

Keeping warehouses, hubs and terminals clean is a serious task for companies to ensure the good condition of products they keep and protect the safety and health of their staff. This may seem easy but the reality is cleaning is a daunting task and eats up a significant portion of any logistic company’s budget on an annual basis.

DHL, the world’s leading logistics company, is turning to robots to keep up cleanliness in all of its facilities worldwide.

In partnership with Avidbots, the company that brings robots to everyday life to expand human potential, is teaming up with DHL to install Neo floor-scrubbing robots in warehouses, hubs and terminals worldwide.

DHL said the goal is to bring the most advanced floor-cleaning automation tool to many of the thousands of sites DHL manages in 220 countries and territories. The new partnership builds on an earlier cooperation signed in 2019 between Avidbots and DHL in North America.

“We’re excited to deploy additional Avidbots at DHL warehouses across the globe, propelling our digitalization journey forward,” says Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Innovation & Commercial Development at DHL. “Floor-cleaning robots, while a simple innovation, reduces up to 80% of labor hours spent cleaning. This frees up our staff to engage in more value-adding, customer-centric work while driving our Strategy 2025 digitalization agenda forward.”

DHL said it will deploy Neo floor-scrubbing robots in warehouses it manages worldwide. Neo is used in many commercial locations and is especially suited to dynamic warehouse environments.

Using advanced 3D sensors, cameras, and AI, Neo autonomously navigates in warehouses, automatically detecting and avoiding obstacles such as humans, boxes, forklifts, and other robots. With Neo, warehouse floors are always clean and dust free, ensuring optimal operations as well as worker health and safety.

“DHL’s strong vote of confidence in the Neo floor-scrubbing robot is a testament to the hard work the entire Avidbots team has put into building the world’s only fully-autonomous floor-scrubbing robot,” said Faizan Shiekh, CEO and co-founder of Avidbots. “We’re thrilled to expand our partnership to deploy Neo robots in DHL warehouses on every continent.”

While most robotic floor-cleaning machines are simply manual models retrofitted with software that allows them to travel a few pre-programmed routes, Avidbots Neo is the only fully-autonomous, AI-driven commercial floor-scrubbing robot, delivering the industry’s highest quality floor maintenance.

Neo is currently deployed at hundreds of sites on five continents, including warehouses, airports, malls, hospitals, universities, manufacturing sites, and train stations. It has gained a particularly large customer base in the warehouse space as it is the only floor-scrubbing robot to effectively operate in dynamic environments with many continuously moving obstacles.

Other floor-cleaning robots must be pre-programmed to follow set routes, but this doesn’t work effectively in warehouses where goods and people are always on the move. Only Neo leverages the most advanced AI to understand its environment, avoiding large and small obstacles and re-routing its pathway on the fly.

DHL and Avidbots said they will work closely together over the next year to identify warehouses worldwide that could benefit from Neo floor-scrubbing robots. (Source:

VoloCity & VoloDrone get funding boost from DB Schenker, others

Convinced that drone technology is the future gamechanger to the growing transport logistics industry, DB Schenker has joined the list of investors to Volocopter, the pioneer in Urban Air Mobility.

The global logistics service provider announced in February its investment to Volocopter’s Series C funding where Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group, MS&AD Ventures, and TransLink Capital (Japan Airlines and Sompo Japan Insurance) also joined as new investors along with existing investors Lukasz Gadowski and btov, bringing the tech company’s total capital to €122 million.

“We are convinced that the Volocopter technology has the potential to bring transport logistics to the next dimension for our customers,” said Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker.

The funding will go towards the certification of the VoloCity, hiring more industry experts, and a second generation VoloDrone to ensure commercialization of the heavy-lift cargo drone product.

“DB Schenker has already tested autonomous and electrical vehicles in several innovation projects and in actual operations. By integrating the VoloDrone into our supply chain of the future, we will be able to serve our clients’ demand for fast, remote, emission-neutral deliveries. We are thrilled to now be part of this drive for innovation in a fantastic team,” said Thewes.

Volocopter is developing autonomous electrical Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, e.g. the VoloCity, to offer air taxi services in different megacities around the world as an addition to existing transport options.
Just recently, the company performed a public flight over Marina Bay Reservoir in Singapore, demonstrating the maturity of its technology. A full scale VoloPort prototype on display allowed visitors to experience what UAM could feel like in the future. This bears testimony to Volocopter’s holistic approach to UAM as an ecosystem.
Last October, Volocopter demonstrated the capabilities of VoloDrone, marking the company’s expansion into the logistics, agriculture, public services and construction industries.

With flexible equipment system, a payload of 200 Kg, a range of 40-km, the 100% electric powered VoloDrone is designed for a wide range of applications in various industries. From last mile, retail to time-critical medical or spare part deliveries, the VoloDrone will get the package delivered safely, securely and on time.

“The new shareholder structure strengthens our global network of strategic and financial partners significantly. Bringing urban air mobility to life for passengers and goods is a great ambition and with our new partners, we bring the expertise and necessary long-term funds on board to make this innovative form of mobility a reality,” said Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter.

Volocopter has recently championed several public flights at Helsinki airport, in Stuttgart, and over Singapore’s Marina Bay. As the first eVTOL company to receive Design Organisation Approval by the European Aviation Safety Authority, the German air taxi service provider is already actively pursuing commercial certification and expects the first commercial routes to be opened within the next two to four years.

Meanwhile, DB Schenker continues to be actively involved in various projects tackling the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

The company said it has set up a total of 45 air cargo connections between Shanghai and Munich in May. In partnership with Icelandair, three Boeing 767 passenger aircraft were turned into all-cargo flights exclusively for the route carrying mostly vital medical supplies and equipment.

“Where capacity is lacking, we create it. DB Schenker is thus also expanding the global supply network in the fight against Corona,” said Thorsten Meincke, Member of the Management Board for Air and Ocean Freight at DB Schenker.

“With these additional flights, we have demonstrated our ability to act in a crisis in a flexible manner and in the shortest possible time.”

The China Shuttle is aimed specifically at customers that import medical equipment such as masks or protective suits from China to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Bookings for several thousand cubic metres of freight have already been received.

The lead time to delivery at the destination is five to seven days. Initially, 45 shuttle flights are planned from Shanghai Pudong to Munich in 12 rotations per week once fully operational. An expansion of the shuttle and further connections, e.g. twice a week to Chicago, are in preparation, DB Schenker said.

Glimmer of hope for Middle East Logistics

There’s no escaping the truth: We are facing a deep global recession never before seen in our lifetime as nations struggle to fight the Coronavirus pandemic that has impacted the lives of billions across the world.

The International Monetary Fund said the cumulative output loss from the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 could reach $9 trillion. And for the first time since the Great Depression, the IMF said “both advanced economies, emerging markets and developing economies are in recession” with income per capita for more than 170 countries to dramatically shrink due to the “Great Lockdown” that put a stop to all activities, including global flights, for weeks and even months in some areas.

Experts warned it will be a slow and painful recovery for many countries that won’t be felt until 2021 or when the anti-Covid-19 vaccine has been developed.

The new normal, whereby people must practice social distancing in public places in addition to wearing masks, will prevail in the meantime. Governments are also likely to re-impose lockdowns if necessary to prevent the spread of the virus that has so far infected more than 4 million people worldwide and killed nearly 300,000 so far.

Stronger e-commerce

While many industries suffered unimaginable losses, aviation in particular, the pandemic also sustained some sectors like air cargo, logistics and growth for some such as e-commerce.

With people stuck at homes for weeks, the allure of buying online, especially essentials like food and medicines, surged within just a short period of time, inevitably making the e-commerce industry stronger.

The United States, Canada, and other developed economies in Asia and Europe, saw online buying activities and spending substantially increased, if not doubled, particularly on groceries. With malls, shops, restaurants and other retailers closed, consumers were pushed to buy their needs online.

The trend extends to affluent nations in the Middle East like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where people, for safety and precautionary reasons, have turned to e-commerce platforms to keep a steady supply of their basic needs instead of going to supermarkets which remained open during the lockdown.

ITCAN, a leading e-commerce technology and digital marketing company focused on e-commerce performance marketing, said the changing dynamics in the way we live have turned most consumers to online shopping rather than doing bulk-buying in stores. For many, the practice is seen as more convenient with free deliveries offered by e-commerce platforms.

“The current global health situation is leading consumers worldwide to adapt to alternative ways of getting their goods, particularly through online shopping and they are likely to spike even more as cities raise the level of restrictions on people’s movement outside their homes. This shift in consumer behavior puts e-commerce platforms on the forefront to support people in the region who are still used to shopping their needs in malls and stores to move towards online marketplaces,” said Mansour Althani, CEO & Co-founder of ITCAN, adding, “online shopping will go beyond the current crisis and will serve as an impetus to further accelerating the growth of e-commerce in the region.

In a 2019 joint study by Dubai Economy and digital payment solutions leader, Visa, titled the “UAE eCommerce Landscape,” the UAE was identified a the most advanced e-commerce market in the Middle East and North Africa with transaction hitting $16 billion that year. It’s annual pro-Covid-19 pandemic growth was estimated at 23% annually through 2022.

The study underlines innovative initiatives, such as the Dubai Smart City, tech-eager consumers and a favorable ecosystem promoting start-up growth as the chief factors that have positioned Dubai and the UAE at the forefront of the e-commerce growth in the MENA region.

Saudi Arabia, which is already big on e-Commerce, also saw a sudden surge on online retail shopping following the Covid-19 lockdown and curfews.

Local online retailer BinDawood Holding disclosed its average sales on a 10-day basis jumped by 200% in March while its average order value rose by 50% and app installations by 400%. The company had since hired more packers and drivers to keep up with demand for online deliveries.

The company has two e-Commerce platforms – BinDawood and Danube – connected to their respective 72 supermarket and hypermarket chains, enabling customers to purchases groceries and other goods online.
Saudi grocery delivery app Nana has also benefitted from the recent turn towards online shopping, raising $18 million in a Series B funding round in late March to expand operations across the Middle East, with investors including venture capital funds Saudi Technology Ventures and Middle East Venture Partners. This follows a Series A funding round that raised $6 million last year.

The Saudi government hopes to increase the proportion of online payments to 70% by 2030, up from 2020 target of 28%. Last year, it enacted the E-commerce Law designed to regulate digital payments and improve transparency. On January 31, 2020, the Ministry of Commerce and Investment adopted the Implementing Regulations of the E-commerce Law, adding increased oversight to areas such as personal data protection, consumer rights and disclosure obligations.

Growing Market

The global logistics market was valued at $10.68 billion in 2018. By 2027, it’s projected to reach $15.88 billion, growing at a CAGR of 4.5%, and pushed by the rise in the use of multimodal transport and innovation in mobile technologies.

Retail and consumer goods companies are likely to benefit more prompting them to reshare their operating models with connected logistics, to keep pace with the ever-evolving industry and consumer demand, according to Agility, a leading global logistics company.

According to the Agility Emerging Markets Logistics 2020, the Middle East will see significant growth in domestic logistics largely fueled by e-Commerce market. Leading this is are the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“UAE’s rise has been driven by a boost to its e-Commerce market, forecast to expand at a CAGR of 19.1% in the five years to 2023, while in Saudi Arabia, benefits of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy are improving prospects and performance. Growth in the construction and tourism sectors as a result of projects established by the Vision 2030 strategy increased demand for domestic logistics services,” Agility pointed out.

In its latest e-Commerce analysis, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce said the UAE has advanced its position globally in this industry thanks to its large storage capacity, extensive logistical networks and the government’s support.

“The country’s position further advanced after the outbreak of the epidemic, as unified exceptional measures taken by the government, logistical support companies and commercial companies helped to ensure the continuous flow of necessary materials during the emerging pandemic…The benefits of the UAE’s strong logistics and warehousing sector extend beyond the domestic market to neighboring markets, for example, Saudi Arabia,” the Chamber said.

Challenging zones

Logistics growth is projected even in some of the most challenging zones like Afghanistan and Iraq to sustain communities and businesses.

Airglow Aviation, which established its operations in Afghanistan eight years ago, relies on highly qualified staff to accomplish its mission.

“Providing services in conflict zones can always be challenging due to the unpredictable security situation in the country. We need to ensure that our personnel, the cargo we handle and our facilities are secure, with multiple layers of security in order to run a successful and incident free operations,” shared Rohit Thakwani, Managing Partner at

Airglow Aviation Services FZC, which represents airlines as Cargo GSSA.

“Our main focus has been safety and security, and we rely on our highly qualified staff to ensure that our standards are maintained. In order to mitigate risk in Afghanistan, we have a due diligence checklist in place that helps us know our clients better. In addition, we also carry out cargo supervision throughout the logistics supply chain. These are just the first few steps put in place that helps us ensure the cargo is safe for transport,” he added.

Liana Coyne, Chief Operating Officer of the family-owned Coyne Airways which pioneered in delivering cargo to conflict zones, said the company relies on their wealth of experience, highly-trained staff and reliable network to mitigate and recover from surprises in conducting their operations.

“It can be very challenging to deliver air cargo services to conflict zones, particularly when there are broader geopolitical issues at play. For better or worse, it has become routine for us and we strive to provide the same level of service to our customers that they would expect on less eventful routes. However, sometimes there are forces simply beyond our control,” said Coyne.

She cited an incident a few years ago when their slots will be cancelled at the last minute changing their entire plans for deliveries.

“For example, a few years ago, Kandahar was the busiest single runway airport in the world and because of that, they were understandably very unforgiving if you missed your slot, regardless of why. And if you missed your slot, you would go to the bottom of the queue and it could take days to get another one. I remember always holding my breath a little for our Kandahar flights, hoping that nothing would go wrong. I also remember feeling somehow cheated on the occasions when we had everything ready to go, but our slots were cancelled at the last minute because of an unannounced visit by a foreign dignitary,” she recalled.

“Unfortunately, there are some things that you cannot plan for; fortunately, we have a wealth of experience and a network of reliable and trustworthy partners to help us anticipate, mitigate and recover from any surprises.”

Future of logistics industry

The Covid-19 pandemic has created so many challenges but also highlighted the importance of the air cargo industry’s ability to deliver fast and efficiently medical and other vital supplies across continents. Equally important is the role that logistics played out during this time of crisis.

Coyne who is in-charge of Coyne Airways’ five new market-focused divisions including Iraq, the Caspian and Central Asia, Afghanistan, Africa, and Contract Logistics, said the pandemic crisis highlighted the importance of the logistics industry in keeping the world moving.

“It is clear that the coronavirus crisis will have a lasting impact on the world economy for the foreseeable future; that will necessarily affect the logistics industry in a variety of ways,” said Coyne, an Oxford graduate lawyer. “Coronavirus has really exposed how reliant supply chains are on flows from East to West.”

“On the airline side, we have seen a huge reduction in capacity in frequencies to and from mainland China on both the cargo and passenger side. For the freighters that are still flying, some are trying to honor their commitments while making the trade imbalances work, while others are charging premiums for capacity. Overall, however, I think that there will be few long-term winners: in February, IATA estimated that coronavirus would cost airlines $30bn in revenue,” she pointed out.

In a globalized world, connectivity is very important and logistics make it happen seamlessly and so are the people behind it.

“If there is any silver lining from this misery, I think that the crisis has highlighted the importance of logistics and more attention may be focused on the industry in the future. I would mention two things in particular: First, we live in a connected world, but contingency planning is key, particularly for pharmaceutical goods. I hope that the response will to diversify and spread the risk rather than to isolate and on-shore. Secondly, I think there has been a renewed appreciation for those people who make the final mile happen: the delivery drivers who provide food and medicine to people under quarantine. I very much hope that the rise in respect and courtesy that ‘hero’ drivers have reported in Wuhan will be replicated around the world,” said Coyne.

Stuart Milligan, Course Leader, MSc International Logistics and Supply Chain Management at the University of South Wales Dubai, said supply chains may become more resilient as a result of the COVID-19 disruptions.

“The reason why the Lean approach is so successful is that it forces organizations to face aspects of their operation that aren’t efficient. COVID-19 has really pushed supply chains to the limit, exposing areas of weakness that day-to-day operations don’t highlight. Smart organizations will reflect on these issues and address them, making them more efficient and resilient in the future,” he explained.

Describing the supply chain as a “people’s job” Milligan noted while some technologies may be integrated in the sector that will shape its future, people will always be behind its success.

“I always maintain that supply chain is a people job. Now, more than ever, the power of people is vital to success. This is a key opportunity to exploit value beyond the transactional. The prize now isn’t price, it is about real social value—health, well-being and care for the most vulnerable. I am engaged in social media feeds of supply chain professionals in the UAE, and the care and compassion that is evident in the profession is humbling,” he said.

Thakwani, Managing Partner at Airglow Aviation Services FZC, said with new technology combined with increasing demand for movement of goods, the region’s logistics industry is up for more growth.

“With the advancement of technology which enables aircraft to fly further whilst being more fuel-efficient, we are going to see more cargo move across the globe, from point to point, as opposed to transiting in hubs such as the UAE,” said Thakwani.

“Moreover, with the growth of the aviation sector in the world and especially in the region, we will continue to witness supply outpacing demand, and overall industry wide load-factor continuing to decline. On the other hand, we are getting access to new markets, and with the rapid growth of e-commerce sales in the region, we expect the year-on-year revenue and over all yields would continue to grow,” he added.

6 trends that will impact the Transportation & Logistics industry over the next decade

1. Global uncertainty: Disruption in the global supply chain cost US$56 billion in 2015 in Europe alone. Economic turbulence, protectionism, and geopolitical instability are forcing transportation and logistics providers to adopt new business models and new alliances.

2. Urbanization: With the rise of megacities, T&L providers need to cope with the challenges of urban logistics, including congestion, difficulties in loading and unloading, and last-mile delivery.

3. Digitalization: Digital technologies will transform the industry, with new efficiencies and new visibility. However, technology is a double-edged sword that also creates rising customer expectations and security challenges.

4. Technology innovation: Business model disruption is coming from established companies and a host of new entrants who are harnessing the latest technology innovations. This will lead to horizontal and vertical integration across the value chain, and networks that are real-time optimized.

5. Need for new talent: New technologies require new skill sets — including design thinking, data sciences and robotics. Hiring costs will rise, and innovation will be a key competitive factor.

6. Sustainability and transparency: Stakeholders, government agencies, and consumers are keenly interested in the practices that guide T&L companies, including sustainability, labor conditions, and environmental compliance.

The ‘Lemon Queen’ loves to laugh, follows the ‘Miracle Morning’ approach

She’s articulate, approachable, funny, witty, thinks outside the box and is definitely not afraid to take risks when necessary.

Audrey Serdjebi, the Parisian Chief Communications & Marketing Officer for eight years of ECS Group, one of the world’s biggest GSSA companies, made a major leap to create her own media and communications company, specializing in air freight and logistics industries, the “Lemon Queen.”

Her previous exposure dealt mainly in communication management for different politicians and NGOs but fell in love with the industry the moment she began working for ECS Group.

“Eight years building tailor-made communications for ECS Group taught me all about the inner workings and rules of the industry. And I wanted to use that knowledge to promote the industry at every level. I love my work. Finding ways of standing out, injecting new energy into the promotion of new services and products, striving for excellence… When you’re in love, it makes you want to write passionate letters. I’m in love with this industry and I want to shout it from the rooftops every day,” Audrey, the Founder and CEO of Lemon Queen shared with Air Cargo Update.

Lemon Queen now counts ECS Group as among its growing list of clients. The team is made of 20 talented employees and freelancers.

“We offer you advice, we understand your brand image, we relay that image to the press and on social media with the greatest care, we create content, media and ads, and we know how to get the most out of them. And of course, events management is also part of our skill set. We’re a real communication and marketing team,” Audrey summed up some of Lemon Queen’s services describing it as a company “focused on the future” which does pro bono work for charity events or promoting values of equality.

So how does this busy and energetic CEO relax? She follows the “Miracle Morning” approach.

“For the last two years, I’ve followed the Miracle Morning approach. Every morning, I wake up at 5.30 to meditate, read, write and exercise. At 7.30, I’m ready for the day, clear-headed and fully effective. It allows me to stay absolutely focused and be as effective as possible. It’s a practice that means I never lose sight of my goals and allows me to constantly move forward. I think that if everyone took a bit of time to re-centre themselves and meditate, stress wouldn’t be such a major problem in today’s world,” Audrey said.

And when she has more time to spare, she laughs. Yes, this CEO finds laughing liberating.

“Laugh. Take the time to laugh. With my daughter, my family, my friends. Laughter is liberating. It reminds us how lucky we are to be alive. When I was little, my mum would constantly remind me that every moment of tension makes you older and every moment of joy makes you younger,” said Audrey who is also squeezing in her busy schedule writing her second novel.

Her favorite book? “Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos. For its depiction of urgent life and urgent love. For its depiction of love being experienced with such intensity. The book is a series of letters addressed from one character to another. The author’s ability to switch between styles with such ease, to paint the temperaments, personalities and above all the emotions of each character, is absolutely incredible. Each character is a work of art in themselves. And you don’t emerge unscathed after reading these relationships in letter form.”
And when the going gets tough, Audrey stays positive pulling inspiration from 17th century French poet Jean de la Fontaine.
“And though I fail to carry off the prize, still there is honour in the enterprise.” These lines are by Jean de La Fontaine, a 17th-century French poet. You have nothing to lose by giving yourself the tools to succeed. But fundamentally, I love life, and when things are difficult, I know that there’s nothing that can’t be changed and that whatever happens, the best is yet to come,” Audrey said with optimism.