Zencargo raises £30M in Series B financing

Zencargo, the London-based digital freight forwarder that helps businesses navigate supply-chain disruption by making intelligent decision, has raised £30M in Series B financing. The funding was led by Digital+ Partners with participation from existing investors, including HV Capital.

Zencargo will use this latest round of funding to significantly grow its team, from 150 to 350 people over the next two years, and further expand internationally, to the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and the United States.

The business has now raised a total of £42 million, and is targeting revenues of £100 million for this year, and over £200 million for 2022.

Zencargo is a digital freight forwarder moving sea, air and road cargo, enabling businesses to be more efficient, accurate, and sustainable in their logistics operations.

Relied upon by the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Swoon Furniture, Farfetch and Soho Home, Zencargo not only handles all the necessary components of transporting goods, from point of production to end-customer, including warehousing, packing, documentation, and customs clearance, but also provides complete visibility of the supply chain down to the item level.

Over €172m of products stolen from supply chains in EMEA in 2020

Product thefts from supply chains in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in 2020 produced losses of more than €172 million despite most of the region being in lockdown as nations took drastic steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to the Transported Asset Protection Association’s (TAPA) Cargo Theft Annual Report.

Based only on data reported to the Association’s Incident Information Service (IIS), in a year when governments were advising their populations to ‘stay at home and work from home’, TAPA EMEA still recorded 6,463 new cargo thefts across a record number of 56 countries in the region, and an average loss for every day of 2020 of €471,432.

The average loss for major cargo crimes with individual losses of €100,000 or more in 2020 was €529,348.

The high numbers, however, remain only a fraction of the losses TAPA EMEA believes are being suffered by Manufacturers/Shippers and Logistics Service Providers in EMEA. The total loss for 2020 is based on only the 65.1% of reports to TAPA EMEA’s IIS which shared financial data. Moreover, the world’s leading supply chain security and resilience Association, says most cargo thefts during road, ocean, airfreight and rail transportation are still not reported by victims to its incident database.

In 2020, 74.6% of all incidents recorded by TAPA EMEA involved cargo thefts in the United Kingdom and Germany, with 3,100 and 1,727 crimes respectively over the 12-month period. In both cases, the statistics – while reinforcing both countries’ reputations as cargo crime hotspots in EMEA – more accurately reflect the proactive sharing of cargo crime data by British and German Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs). Six other countries recorded triple-digit incident rates:

“2020 will go down in history as a year like no other. At a time when most businesses were focused almost entirely on a fight for survival, and law enforcement agencies faced the added pressure of policing new government lockdowns, traditional channels of cargo crime data were, as expected, also severely impacted. Consequently, it is difficult to give a meaningful comparison with previous years. However, while some criminal operations would have been disrupted by lockdown measures, 2020 still saw the second-highest rate of incidents in TAPA’s 24-year history, And, had we been able to maintain the same level of data sharing from LEAs across the region as we achieved in 2019, I am certain 2020 would have set a new record for cargo crimes in the EMEA region,” stated Thorsten Neumann, President & CEO of TAPA EMEA. “For Organized Crime Groups (OCGs) and other, smaller groups of offenders targeting supply chains, cargo crime is its own ‘industry’ offering very rich rewards. Although, TAPA EMEA members are among those companies best protected from these threats, the risks remain 24/7/365, even during a pandemic.”

Plenty of factors will have fueled criminal activities in 2020, including widespread and, often, misleading media reports of product shortages and empty supermarket shelves. Job losses or the fear of unemployment will have opened up new ‘markets’ to buyers seeking bargains, and then there was the global race for scarce supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from governments, medical professionals and consumers. With demand exceeding supply, many cargo thieves clearly found the opportunity to target products too good to miss out on. In the 12 months covered by this report, 19 TAPA IIS product categories recorded cargo thefts.

The top three product types suffering losses in 2020 were:

  1. Food & Drink – 536 cargo thefts
  2. Tobacco – 403 incidents
  3. No Load (Theft of truck and/or trailer) – 282 thefts

Other products suffering high loss rates from supply chains in the last calendar year included Furniture/Household Appliances (240 loss incidents), Clothing & Footwear (213), Cosmetics & Hygiene (150), Tools/Building Materials (97), Metal (87), Computers/Laptops (68), and Pharmaceuticals (67).

Quick to respond to changing market demand, cargo thieves also targeted shipments of Personal Protective Equipment as well as supply chains moving highly sought-after products such as face masks and hand sanitisers. In one crime alone in Spain in April, two million facemasks and other PPE equipment worth €5 million were stolen from an Origin Facility in Santiago de Compostela. This was far from the highest-value loss of the year, however, which involved the robbery of a cash-in-transit vehicle in Lyon, France, in August and the theft of over €9 million of cash. This was one of 19 incidents in 2020 recording losses of more than €1 million in TAPA’s incident database.

Trucks, trailers and Last Mile delivery vans were by far the most popular target for cargo thieves, as in previous years, led by 3,644 cases of Theft from Vehicle, 56.3% of all crimes recorded. This compared to only 212 crimes recorded as Theft from Facility in 2020.

With TAPA EMEA estimating a shortfall of over 2,000 secure truck parking sites and over 400,000 parking places in the region, vehicles were – once again – the most frequent victims of a cargo crime when they were parked in unsecured parking locations including roadside laybys, at truck stops and motorway service areas, or in open spaces on industrial estates. The lack of secure truck parking, especially in Europe, was identified in over half of all crime reports to TAPA’s IIS in 2020.

Violence or the threat of violence was the modus operandi reported in 232 incidents, although, again, TAPA believes the true figure to be far higher. In 2020, particularly violent incidents reported to the Association involved fatalities of police officers, drivers, at least one member of the public, and offenders killed in gunfights with law enforcement officers. 31 of the 56 countries recorded cargo thefts involving violence. South Africa saw the highest number of violent attacks, followed by the United Kingdom, Spain and France.

Criminals continued to deploy various types of M.O. to target goods in-transit and in facilities. These included the use of:

* Gas attacks on drivers taking rest breaks in their cabs, ad the use by offenders of pepper sprays to incapacitate drivers

* ‘Vehicle breakdown’ alerts by drivers on long distance routes in more remote locations to buy time for drivers, vehicles and loads to disappear

The global focus on supply chains throughout the Covid pandemic has brought one upside for TAPA EMEA with its membership in the region rising to a record level. Some 150 companies have joined the Association since the start of 2020 as more Manufacturers/Shippers and Logistics Service Providers look for proven ways to increase their supply chain resilience. As well as incident intelligence, TAPA EMEA offers industry standards for facilities, trucking operations and secure parking, as well as training and secure route planning tools.

Marcel Saarloos, Chair of TAPA EMEA, added: “TAPA EMEA members’ supply chains are among the most resilient in the world but for the industry-at-large, the risk of cargo theft, and all of the business and reputational damage this causes, is never far away. Even though we know the big picture of cargo crime is far greater than the level of intelligence we receive, in the last two years alone, TAPA EMEA has recorded over 15,000 losses from supply chains in our region with a combined loss value of more than €310 million – which is the equivalent of €424,000 of goods being stolen from supply chains on every single day of 2019 and 2020. This should act as a big ‘wake-up call’ for everyone involved in the movement of goods by all modes of transport because almost every type of cargo is a target for criminals.”

Antonov Airlines transports mining equipment to Burkina Faso and Liberia

Antonov Airlines has transported fourteen pieces of mining equipment, weighing 216 tons in total, on two AN-124-100 flights from Istanbul, Turkey to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Monrovia, Liberia.

The 113-tonne cargo for the second flight was safely loaded in minimal time to meet the tight deadline required by the mines, both in the process of expanding operations.

“These two flights from Turkey to Africa were meticulously planned and both flights were completed with maximum payloads on each route,” said Eugene Kiva, Commercial Executive at Antonov Airlines.

“Antonov Airlines provided the flexibility required by our partner Skyair Chartering to perform these air shipments within the customer’s deadlines.”

The airline made a single technical stop in Algiers, Algeria for the 103 ton Burkina Faso-bound cargo and two stops in Casablanca, Morocco, and Diass-Thies, Senegal for the journey to Liberia to refuel and provide crew rests.

“As per our customer’s request for the delivery of large quantities of oversized drill machinery in a short timeframe, the two flights provided by Antonov Airlines made sure the needs of the expanding mining facilities were met,” said Tekin Ertemel, Director Business Development at Skyair Chartering.

“Antonov’s AN-124-100s are equipped with ramps, which are ideal to transport heavy and oversized loads safely and easily, contributing greatly to the delivery of a seamless operation.”

Antonov Airlines has seen an increase in charters for mining projects since the beginning of the year and just last month completed three flights of equipment weighing 370 tons to Latin America from Australia.

PayCargo tailors its platform to support ACN’s needs

PayCargo has teamed up with Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN) to help simplify the payment and collection of the Association’s membership and delegate transactions.

The Dutch trade association has signed up to use PayCargo’s encrypted online payment platform to process payments from members and delegates at its events.

PayCargo, which last year processed USD4bn in transactions for logistics firms, has tailored its platform to support ACN’s needs.

“ACN has done a huge amount in recent years for the progression of the air cargo industry in the Netherlands by promoting digital solutions and the benefits of adopting a versatile digital payment system,” said Adriaan Reinders, Chief Executive Officer, PayCargo Europe.

“They are not just preaching about the benefits of digital solutions, they are leading by example.”

ACN is the only air freight industry association in the Netherlands, with more than 300 members, and aims to develop the Dutch air cargo industry through educational projects, digital innovation, and increased transparency and connection between supply chain members.

“We want to make adopting this new solution as easy as possible for ACN members to prepare for the future while underscoring the importance of digitization across the air cargo value chain,” said Maarten van As, Managing Director, ACN.

“To practice what we preach as an industry organization, our members can now pay their membership fee through PayCargo to become familiar with new digital solutions that will drive efficiency in the cargo chain.”

PayCargo regularly teams up with like-minded associations and companies around the globe to develop tailored solutions that introduce greater payment capabilities, efficiency, and transparency across the supply chain.

PayCargo works closely with IT leaders such as IBS Software, Unisys, Champ Cargosystems, Accelya, Kale, and others to offer improved payment options, and to broaden industry access to contactless digital payments.

Singapore Airlines awards Brussels Airport handling contract to WFS

Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) has expanded its partnership with Singapore Airlines with the awarding of a new contract by the airline in Brussels and renewals of existing agreements in Paris, London and Manchester.

The contract in Belgium is a major win for WFS’ new cargo terminal operation at Brussels Airport, which opened in January. The three-year deal to support Singapore Airlines’ five Boeing 747 cargo flights a week from Brussels reinforces WFS’ decision to invest in the new 250,000 tonne capacity freight facility less than two years after opening another new 9,000 sq. mt. terminal in the Brucargo West development.

The new, additional terminal is designed to support WFS’ customers’ premium products and uses new technologies to improve operational efficiency and customer experience.

This includes a dedicated pharma zone as well as kiosk-based, self-service reception points for truck drivers, enabling them to stay in their vehicles when completing cargo deliveries and collections, and expediting their assignment to one of the terminal’s 40 cargo gates. In line with WFS’ core priority of safety and security, the new building is also equipped with state-of-the-art security access controls and cargo screening technologies.

Barry Nassberg, Group Chief Commercial Officer at WFS, said: “This is a significant strengthening of our relationship with Singapore Airlines and represents big gains for our operations in Belgium, France and the UK because of the airline’s size and importance in the market. We understand this responsibility and greatly value Singapore Airlines’ confidence in WFS.”

Air Cargo system still remains under ‘significant strain’ as it bounces back in April

Global air cargo demand bounced back into growth in April after a -3% dip in March, with high load factors keeping the international airfreight system under significant strain as the traditional surge in summer capacity has so far failed to materialize for a second consecutive year, say industry analysts CLIVE Data Services and TAC Index.

CLIVE’s first-to-market weekly and monthly air cargo market data shows volumes in April up 1% over April 2019 and +78% compared to the same month of 2020, continuing the positive trend seen in the opening two months of this year. The second half of April 2021 showed particularly strong year-over-year growth, up 6%.

To provide a meaningful perspective of the air cargo industry’s performance, CLIVE Data Services is continuing to focus on comparing the current state of the market to pre-Covid 2019 volume, cargo capacity and load factor data until at least Q3 of this year. This is being produced alongside the 2020 comparison.

Despite the similar volumes as in April 2019, the pressure on available airline cargo capacity is much higher. Overall capacity was down 18% versus 2019 as the increase in belly capacity seen then and in previous years, as airlines increased from winter to summer schedules, remained grounded due to continuing Covid restrictions on international passenger movements. Consequently, CLIVE’s ‘dynamic loadfactor’ for April of 71% – based on the volume and weight perspectives of cargo flown and capacity available – was 10% pts higher than in 2019 and 4% pts above the level of a year ago.

“The air cargo market shifted gear again in April. The month-over-month change from -3% to +1% is quite a jump, but a dynamic loadfactor of 71% represents a tremendous strain on the air cargo system. This lack of bandwidth capacity-wise is being exacerbated by the fact there is no summer schedule based on passenger demand, which is contributing to the high rates being reported in the market,” said Niall van de Wouw, Managing Director of CLIVE Data Services. He added: “Airlines operating ‘preighter’ services need these rates in order to operate cargo-only operations because the margins on these services are very thin.”

China to Europe volumes were 18% higher in April 2021 than in 2019, with load factors ex China at 95% or ‘completely full’, he said. Despite a 10% drop in volumes from Europe to North America compared to 2019, CLIVE’s latest data also shows the fall in capacity of around 40% on this lane, resulting in a dynamic loadfactor at 87%, 21% pts higher than in 2019. The decline in North America to Europe volumes is less pronounced at -4% versus 2019, producing a load factor of 69% or 19% points higher than in 2019.

TAC Index data for April shows the impact of the volume vs. capacity conundrum on airfreight rates.

Gareth Sinclair of TAC Index commented: “There has been a big bounce back from the slowdown we saw in March with prices strengthening, driven by demand outstripping capacity in several markets, with some lanes recording higher pricing levels versus the highs seen in 2020. The BAI (Baltic Air Freight Indices) increased by almost 17% in April over March largely driven by China (HKG & PVG) with growth around 30% but London Heathrow also saw an improvement on 3 out of 4 indices although at more modest levels (~3%) building on similar growth levels in March. Frankfurt, Chicago and Singapore origins all saw declines over March levels. There continues to be a dynamic market environment with operational crewing and permits continuing to impact some carrier operations.”

TAC Index says the differences by market can be seen in the performance of the China and Hong Kong markets, which continued to lead the way in terms of price strength, whilst the US and Europe saw a more volatile and mixed picture in April:

“In summary, the airfreight market continues to be strong, particularly CN/HK to US, and may continue, at least in the short term, with demand strengthening as countries relax lockdowns and subdued passenger travel continues to impact capacity. With the easing of Hong Kong quarantine rules for crew, Cathay Pacific, for example, are looking to restore their full market presence as soon as possible, which may dampen pricing,” Gareth Sinclair said.

Turkish Cargo adds Munich to its expanding cargo flight network

Turkish Airlines’ ascendant air cargo brand Turkish Cargo keeps growing steadily by strengthening its flight network. After Frankfurt, Turkish Cargo has now added Munich, the developed economical city of Germany, among its destinations served with direct cargo flights. The dynamic brand of the sector, maintaining increase its number of direct cargo flights with Munich cargo flights started on May 7, 2021.

Commenting on the launch of Munich as a direct cargo destination, Turkish Cargo’s Chief Cargo Officer Turhan Ozen said; “Besides making a remarkable contribution to the need for global air cargo transportation, we are glad to add Munich, a substantial business center, to our flight network, and continue to offer a stable and reliable cooperation to the leading exporters of the market.

As one of the prepotent air cargo brands in the world, we are aware, and resolutely fulfill our critical role in the development of our country and in increasing the competitiveness of global trade. We perform this mission not only with the transportation we carry out, but also with producing, opening areas, contributing the development of sectors, and creating a large logistics ecosystem.”

Munich is considered as the technological metropolis of Germany, and it hosts the market leaders in automotive, electronics, medical and biotechnological products.

Turkish Cargo aims to strengthen the air cargo bridge it has established between Europe and the Middle East with the reliable, fast and direct air transportation it offers to logistics service providers with Airbus A330F type wide body cargo aircraft on ISTMUC-IST cargo flights.

Connecting the continents, Turkish Cargo has the world’s largest direct cargo flight network consisting of 96 destinations among air cargo brands, 25 direct cargos, excluding express carriers. It continues to carry out global business processes with the fleet of Turkish Airlines consist from 363 aircraft including 25 dedicated freighters.

Achieving sustainable growth with its infrastructure, operational capabilities, fleet and expert teams in the field, Turkish Cargo aims to be one of the top 3 air cargo brands in the world. With its innovation mission, it continues to develop pioneering projects in the field of digitalization and innovation in a sustainable way to increase its service quality in changing world.

Renault launches custom-built model trucks in the Middle East

Renault Trucks has announced the launch of a new custom-built model, the Renault Truck T X-64, in the Middle East.

The new model is set to appeal to customers looking for cost-efficient trucks that feature European quality and deliver an optimized total cost of ownership and standard warranty.

The Renault Trucks T X-64 is produced in a specialized conversion workshop at the Bourg-en-Bresse manufacturing site in France.

The vehicle is converted using rigorous industrial processes and is specifically intended for customers operating in Africa and the Middle East. Its high ground clearance makes it ideal for light construction, logistic or petroleum transportation, while its T cab maximizes the driver’s comfort.

Renault Trucks’ Export models have been in high demand in the GCC – the T X-64 has explicitly been prepared for the region’s markets, with its reinforced chassis and other specifications. The option of hub reduction allows drivers to operate either on-road on rough conditions, making the T X-64 ideal for tackling the region’s most challenging terrain.

With a change of stringers, suspensions, axles and conversion of the power train, the Renault Trucks T X-64 includes over 50% of new original parts.

It is fitted with a new ultra-robust reinforced 6×4 300 mm chassis with a three-axle profile, allowing a load of 8 tons on the front axle and 26 tons on the rear.

For optimum driving comfort and perfect control of the vehicle in any situation, the Renault Trucks T X-64 is fitted with an Optidriver robotized gearbox with off-road mode and manual acceleration.

Based on a Renault Trucks T Euro VI converted into Euro III, the Renault Trucks T X-64 guarantees the highest pollution control level as applied in Africa and the Middle East.

The Used Trucks Factory operators begin the conversion by dismantling and recycling the Euro VI components (silencers and AdBlue components) before installing the Euro III parts. As with new engines, this conversion is certified by an external body and guarantees the original power and torque.

The air and diesel filters are also reinforced, enabling the vehicle to adapt to its new environment (topography and the characteristics of locally available fuel). Finally, ground clearance is increased to ensure the protection of the underbody on rough terrain.

The manufacturer’s software and documentation are updated to ensure the vehicle, with its new specifications, is recognized and maintained throughout the network.

Finally, the Renault Trucks T X-64 comes with a manufacturer’s warranty of 18 months or 180,000 km, which covers all components of the powertrain and is valid throughout all Renault Trucks sales and service outlets.

Alex Vosselman, Used Trucks Director of Renault Trucks Middle East, commented: “Following the successful introduction of our other custom-built models the X-Road and the X-Port to the region, these models enjoyed exceptionally high demand in GCC markets.

“Our Used Trucks are now well established, so we are very confident that the new T X-64 will follow in these footsteps and reinforce the brand’s growing reputation across the region. We are also simultaneously launching a 24-month warranty combined with a 24-month service contract on the X-Port, X-Road and X-64 to emphasize on the Total Cost of Ownership and quality of our Used Renault trucks.”

Used Trucks Factory conversions are conducted using recently used trucks that have been rigorously selected and subjected to over 200-point inspections.

Each conversion has been specifically studied by Renault Trucks’ design and quality engineers. The industrial manufacturing and quality control processes meet a level of requirements comparable to those applied in the manufacture of new vehicles.

Sharjah International Airport Four-fold expansion project moves full steam ahead

Sharjah International Airport is all set to receive 200 additional flights weekly this summer and has embarked on a large scale expansion project to continue offering excellent service to airlines and passengers

Sharjah is located between the city of Dubai and other Northern Emirates and known to be a thriving city, which is famous for its culture, heritage and numerous other tourist attractions. The emirate is also renowned to be a business hub which attracts entrepreneurs with its conducive atmosphere to business.

Sharjah International Airport’s history goes back to 1932, when it was known to be a stopover point by Imperial Airways – the forerunner of British Airways, which constructed an airfield at Sharjah as a stopover en-route to India and Australia.

Today, the airport is the Middle East region’s leading air transportation gateway and is considered to be a leading cargo hub in the region. In 2012, the airport added eight new cargo airlines to further enhance its position as one of the best cargo handling facilities and services in the region. Sharjah follows an ‘Open Sky Policy’ which permits airlines’ traffic rights without any hindrance.

Expansion project ongoing

To cope with air traffic increase, Sharjah International Airport has embarked on a four-fold expansion project; both air side and land side to ensure the excellence of quality service provided to airlines and passengers using the airport.

Expecting to see 25 million passengers by 2025, the airport is set to operate a new capacious runway alongside the old one by September this year. The project consists of the main runway spanning 4,060 meters and a width of 60 meters, has two taxiways and 10 connecting corridors which are intended to secure the aircraft out of the main runway in the shortest time to the hangar.

A senior official said the new airstrip will suffice the future needs of the third-biggest airport in the United Arab Emirates, particularly for large and new generation code-F aircraft such as A380, apart from the expected 14 million passengers in 2017 and the already one million tons of shipment capacity.

The airport has further contracted with construction company Bechtel to do a thorough development plan for the airport. The project also includes the implementation of a 15-km service road and the construction of a security fence extending 10 km as well as implementation of the rain water drainage network.

“The eight-month plan, to be ready this September, will identify the expansion trends of infrastructure projects in the airport and surrounding northern or southern areas,” said Ali Salim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah International Airport.

Sharjah International Airport has reported 8 per cent increase in passenger traffic in the first quarter of this year. The passenger statistics showed that 2.25 million passengers used the airport from January to March 2014, growing from 2.08 million during the same period a year ago. In addition, aircraft movements increased to 16,373 while 51,045 and cargo activity handling rose to 51,045 tonnes.

There are leading airlines which operate flights from the Sharjah International Airport including Air Arabia, Air Blue, Air India, Air India Express, Cebu Pacific Air, Egyptair, Jet Airways, PIA, Qatar Airways and Srilankan Airlines and many others.

Besides, international cargo flights are also operated from Sharjah International Airport. Among these, Air Arabia is the main airline which flies to more than 90 airports throughout the world.

2030 Master Plan

Sharjah International Airport believes its 2030 Master Plan will be able to attract new airlines. According to a top official, Sharjah International Airport is waiting to complete its 2030 Master Plan, which will include a logistics area connected to the planned Etihad Rail network.

Much of Sharjah’s growth over the past decade has been fuelled by Air Arabia that added eight new destinations this year. Sharjah International Airport handled 7.5 million passengers in 2012, a 13.6 per cent year-on-year jump from the previous year. In an effort to maintain these performance levels, Sharjah International Airport officials recently held discussions with the Ministry of Interior to develop facilities that will streamline passenger flows in and out of the airport.

The airport has become the preferred travel option of many because of the efficiency of procedures, excellent services and its strategic location.

The airport has also announced that it will see an influx of 200 additional weekly flights as airlines commence their summer schedule. The increase in weekly flights will come from a mixture of commercial and cargo operations including Srilankan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Saudia Cargo.

Furthermore, as Dubai International Airport’s runways are under renovation from 1 May until 20 July for 80 days, some of the flights have been diverted to Sharjah International Airport. This temporary move is expected to put additional pressure on the airport’s load. Among the airlines that have diverted their flights are Air India, Air India Express, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Cebu Air Pacific.

“Sharjah International Airport is gearing up to meet with this new demand, both with regards to resource and infrastructure. Recently, the airport appointed 100 passport control officers, and opened 20 additional check-in counters to ease the travel and immigration formalities, as well as providing additional temporary gates to ensure the smooth and fast completion of the procedures,” added Mr. Al Midfa.

Agreement with Gama Aviation

Sharjah Airport Authority (SAA) signed an agreement with Gama Aviation, the global aviation services company, permitting the company to manage private/business aviation services at Sharjah International Airport, including  all procedures and processes, starting from issuing landing permissions to the handling of passengers and crews.

The agreement between SAA and Gama Aviation was signed by Ali Salim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Airport Authority and Richard Lineveldt, General Manager MENA for Gama Aviation respectively, in the presence of Shaikh Khalid Bin Essam Al Qasimi, Chairman, Department of Civil Aviation, Emirate of Sharjah.

Gama Aviation took over the responsibility for handling all business travellers at Sharjah International Airport in early 2012, but the company has been present in Sharjah as a charter operator since 2006.

Leading low cost carrier – Air Arabia

The government of Sharjah launched its own airline, Air Arabia, on October 28, 2003, which is a low-cost airline operating to 91 destinations in the Middle East, North Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Europe and Central Asia. The first flight was from Sharjah International Airport to Bahrain International Airport. Despite the tough competition in airline business, the airline is profitable from the first day of its commencement. As expected, the resultant increase in passenger throughput via Sharjah International Airport has been dramatic.

Air Arabia does not only transport passengers, but also offers cargo delivery services. The carrier operates cargo services to more than 50 destinations, which continuously grow.

Air Arabia deals with corporate customers in the region and worldwide such as Aramex, Emirates Post, UPS, FedEx and DHL. Furthermore, it is in bid to deliver cargo across a wider network, Air Arabia has expanded its cargo reach in collaboration with major freight carriers as interline partners such as Lufthansa, Cargolux, Singapore Airlines, Etihad Cargo, Air France, KLM, Oman Air, Leisure Cargo and many more.

Adel Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer Air Arabia, was awarded world’s low cost airline “CEO of the year” 2007, 2008, 2009 and has been given credit for setting up the Middle East and North Africa’s first low-cost carrier (LCC), Air Arabia.

Adel has brought over 27 years of strategic aviation, tourism and marketing experience to Air Arabia since the company commenced operations in October 2003. Adel’s distinctive leadership style, vision, skilful management combined with his charisma, makes him an inspiration to his team.

Fourth international base – RAK

On 6 May 2014, the airline started its operations from Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE. The inaugural flight departed from RAK International Airport to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The launch of operations followed the recent establishment of an Air Arabia hub at RAK International Airport, which is the airline’s fourth international base, and second in the UAE.

Two new Airbus A320 aircraft have been based at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, following a strategic partnership signed between the airline and Ras Al Khaimah Department of Civil Aviation. Air Arabia launch routes include direct services to Jeddah in Saudi; Cairo in Egypt; Muscat in Oman; Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan; Dhaka in Bangladesh; and to be followed by Calicut in India.

Contract with Turkish Technic

Air Arabia recently selected the subsidiary of Turkish Airlines, Turkish Technic Inc. for its component and support services. Turkish Technic and Air Arabia signed a component support contract in Istanbul, Turkey. The contract comprises component supply and repair on ATA Chapter basis.

Components will be supplied from Istanbul and all repair and overhaul work of the components will be executed at the Turkish Technic sites in Istanbul.

Mr Ali expressed Air Arabia’s trust in Turkish Technic’s quality of services and also feeling appreciation to have the support of the leading MRO in the region with its comprehensive services. He added “We are recognized for high quality services and on-time departures and Turkish Technic component support services will be an ideal support to our technical operations.”

Air Arabia revenues

Recently, Air Arabia announced a net profit of Dh435 million for the 2013 financial year, a 2 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2012. According to an official release, the airline’s turnover for the full year ending December 31, 2013, stood at Dh3.2 billion, up 14 per cent compared to the same period in 2012. More than 6.1 million passengers flew by Air Arabia in 2013, a 15 per cent increase compared to 5.3 million passenger carried in 2012. The airline’s seat load factor – or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats for the full year ending December 31, 2013, stood at 80 per cent.

Air Arabia’s net profit for the fourth quarter ending December 31, 2013, stood at Dh94 million, up 12 per cent compared to Dh84 million reported in 2012. The airline’s turnover for the last quarter of 2013 was Dh811 million, an increase of 8 percent compared to Dh753 million during the same period in 2012. The airline carried more than 1.5 million passengers in the fourth quarter, an increase of 15 per cent compared to the last quarter of 2012, the press release added.

“Air Arabia has enjoyed consistent and sustained growth since launching operations back in October 2003, and our performance in the year of our tenth anniversary was no exception. The network expansion strategy, which has guided the airline for a decade, continued to reap rewards in 2013, helping us to once again deliver a strong set of results,” stated Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammad Al Thani, Chairman of Air Arabia.

In the first three months of 2014, Air Arabia also added three new destinations from its main base in Sharjah: Cairo in Egypt, Antalya in Turkey, and Shymkent in Kazakhstan. The airline also added extra frequency to existing routes, including an additional daily service between Sharjah and Doha.

After serving over 37 million passengers, Air Arabia has firmly established itself as one of the rare success stories in the region and a strong participant in the regional skies.

The airline’s steady growth has always been driven by its loyal customer base, with its philosophy of offering the best services and greater connectivity across its route network.

Gulf Air offers complimentary travel insurance coverage for passengers contracted with covid-19 during journey

Gulf Air will offer complimentary COVID-19 travel insurance coverage to all ticket holders which will include health and quarantine expenses in the unexpected circumstances of being diagnosed with or contracting COVID-19 during passengers’ journeys.

All tickets booked, including redemption tickets, on Gulf Air flights for travel starting from May until 10 November 2021 are automatically covered with COVID-19 insurance at no extra cost. Some restrictions may apply and passengers can visit gulfair.com for more information.

All passengers, according to the newly announced insurance policy and in the unfortunate event of being diagnosed with COVID-19 while traveling abroad, will be covered for repatriation assistance, medical and hospitals costs abroad as well as quarantine accommodation costs

Gulf Air’s Acting chief executive officer Captain Waleed AlAlawi said, “As the current global situation continues, travel needs to be simplified and enhanced with tools to make the passenger’s journey worry-free. The COVID-19 insurance coverage will provide a better experience to everyone flying with us within the next 6 months, just in time to plan their summer holiday. This will ensure passengers regardless of destination or class of travel can travel with more confidence and avoid any unwanted hassle in case of COVID-19 related emergency abroad”.