Founded in 2002, Hermes Logistics Technologies has developed cargo management systems for airlines and air cargo handlers which find its bespoke solutions and systems to be among the most versatile and sophisticated, streamlining ground handling processes and maximizing profits while reducing handling errors through inbuilt best practices.
The company works with a wide range of other companies, from smaller cargo handlers to large airlines all over the world. It counts Etihad, PCF, FCS, Menzies and PACTL, among its customers.
Yuval Baruch (55), is the CEO of Hermes Logistics Technologies. Israel is his homeland, but he has spent considerable time in the UK, the US and Italy. Baruch is married with two sons (aged 26 & 23) and a daughter (22).
“Academically I have a Bachelor’s degree in business from the College of Academic Studies in Tel Aviv and a Master’s degree in business from Stanford Graduate School of Business in California,” Baruch tells Air Cargo Update.
“My main hobby is triathlon which takes up a large amount of my limited free time. I do Ironman competitions and training that starts at 4:30am to be completed before work and between 2-4 hours training on weekends. I also enjoy doing DIY projects around my house. Currently, I am in the process of building an outdoor kitchen with a barbecue in my backyard.”
Last year, Baruch spent four days cycling the length of Israel with his triathlon club, MyWay. The group made of around 80 cyclists covered an impressive 630 kilometers, cycling for an average of 5.5 hours per day in sweltering heats of up to 35 degrees Celsius. The cyclists also climbed a total of about 6,400 meters on their bikes during the tour.
“It’s boring to do the same things all the time, so we look for other things to do,” Baruch shared on Hermes website. “The cycling tour was a really good strength-building exercise and good preparation for longer cycling competitions, like Ironman, which is 180 kilometres in a day.”
Baruch likes to unwind after a long day by listening to music and watching Netflix.
His favorite quote is about AUTHENTICITY by Michal Jordan: “Authenticity is about being true to who you are, even when everyone around you wants you to be someone else.”
He looks up to professional athletes due to their drive, commitment, perseverance and winner nature.
“I also look up to my wife for her huge heart and emotional capabilities,” he shared.
When asked what his profession would be if he weren’t an aviation expert, Baruch replied that he would love to compete in some motor sport.
Baruch’s expectation for 2022 are, “Professionally, I would like to have further firmed the growth and restructuring of HLT and I would like to complete one more Ironman competition.”
The global trucking company says it prefers liquid hydrogen in the development of hydrogen-based drives as in this aggregate state, the energy carrier has a significantly higher energy density in relation to volume compared to gaseous hydrogen
STUTTGART, Germany: Daimler Truck reaches its next milestone on the road to sustainable transportation with the successful test of fuel-cell truck with liquid hydrogen, a prelude to the possibility of having more hydrogen-based drives.
Since last year, a Mercedes-Benz GenH2 Truck fuel-cell prototype has been undergoing intensive testing – both on the in-house test track and on public roads. Daimler Truck is now putting another prototype into operation to test the use of liquid hydrogen.
Political support for the development program comes from Daniela Schmitt, Minister of Economic Affairs of Rhineland-Palatinate, who opened the regional hydrogen week “WOCHE DES WASSERSTOFFS SÜD” (#wdws2022) on June 27 with a test drive in Wörth am Rhein, Germany.
A newly installed prototype filling station at the development and testing centre in Wörth enables the refuelling with liquid hydrogen. Recently, Daimler Truck celebrated the first successful liquid hydrogen (LH2) refuelling of the truck together with Air Liquide.
During the refuelling process, cryogenic liquid hydrogen at minus 253 degrees Celsius is filled into two 40 kg tanks mounted on either side of the chassis. Thanks to the particularly good insulation of the vehicle tanks, the hydrogen can be kept at temperature for a sufficiently long time without active cooling. Daimler Truck says it prefers liquid hydrogen in the development of hydrogen-based drives.
In this aggregate state, the energy carrier has a significantly higher energy density in relation to volume compared to gaseous hydrogen.
As a result, more hydrogen can be carried, which significantly increases the range and enables comparable performance of the vehicle with that of a conventional diesel truck. The development objective of the series-ready GenH2 Truck is a range of up to 1,000 kilometres and more. This makes the truck suitable for flexible and demanding applications, especially in the important segment of heavy-duty long-haul transport. The start of series production for hydrogen-based trucks is planned for the second half of the decade.
Comprehensive commitment to hydrogen
Daimler Truck says it is also working together with Linde on the development of a new process for handling liquid hydrogen (“subcooled” liquid hydrogen, “sLH2 technology”). Among other things, this innovative approach enables even higher storage density and easier refuelling compared to LH2.
The companies plan for the first refuelling of a prototype vehicle at a pilot station in Germany in 2023. Daimler Truck and its partners are planning for a high level of transparency and openness around the relevant interfaces of the jointly developed sLH2 technology.
The goal is to collaborate with other companies and associations as possible to develop their own refuelling and vehicle technologies that apply the new liquid-hydrogen standard and thereby establish a global mass market for the new process.
When it comes to infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations along important transport routes in Europe, Daimler Truck says it is planning to work together with the companies Shell, BP and TotalEnergies. Daimler Truck is also a shareholder in hydrogen filling station operator H2 MOBILITY Deutschland.
In addition, Daimler Truck, IVECO, Linde, OMV, Shell, TotalEnergies and the Volvo Group have committed to work together to help create the conditions for the mass-market roll-out of hydrogen trucks in Europe as part of the H2Accelerate (H2A) interest group.
On its path towards a CO2-neutral future Daimler Truck has clearly set its strategic course and is consistently pursuing a dual-track strategy in the electrification of its portfolio with both battery-electric and hydrogen-based drives. The ambition is to offer only new vehicles that are carbon-neutral in driving operation in its global core markets by 2039.www.media.daimlertruck.com
Commercial activities in India generate about 4.6 billion tons of freight annually, which results in over 3-trillion-ton-km of transportation demand costing US$100 billion. By 2050, the country’s freight ecosystem is projected to grow five-fold and will be critical in supporting its global trade, job growth, urban and rural livelihoods as well as clean air and environment.
By R. Chandrakanth
India needs to fast-track its available resources and infrastructure to seamlessly transport freight of all kinds across the country to support its ambitious economic and social goals while protecting its environment in the 21st century.
The NITI Aayog, which serves as the apex public policy think-tank of the Government of India, and the nodal agency tasked with catalyzing economic development, along with RMI, an independent nonprofit think-and-do tank pointed this out in its 2021 report, a roadmap for clean and cost-effective goods transportation.
India has been recognized as one of the world’s fastest-growing major economy for the past few years, due to rising demand for goods and services. The movement of goods across the country and beyond its borders has created economic opportunities for millions of Indians.
Today, the logistics sector represents 5 percent of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs 2.2 crore people. India handles 4.6 billion tons of goods each year, amounting to a total annual cost of over Rs. 120 billion. These goods represent a variety of domestic industries and products: 22 percent are agricultural goods, 39 percent are mining products, and 39 percent are manufacturing-related commodities.
Trucks and other vehicles handle most of the movement of these goods. Railways, coastal and inland waterways, pipelines, and airways account for the rest.
Government initiatives to improve logistics performance
Recognizing the critical role of the sector in the country’s future, the Government of India (GOI) is pursuing a range of actions to improve its logistics performance. These include the development of dedicated rail-based freight corridors, improvements to the capacity and connectivity of coastal and inland water-based shipping and airport connectivity through the regional connectivity scheme.
It is also looking at the buildout of road infrastructure projects such as Bharatmala and the Golden Quadrilateral, and the creation of supportive policies.
As national freight activity grows about five-fold by 2050, India’s freight transport ecosystem has a critical role to play in supporting India’s ambitious priorities. Some of these include international competitiveness, job growth, urban and rural livelihoods, and clean air and environment.
The report said India’s cumulative energy consumption from freight transport between 2020 and 2050 under a business as usual (BAU) scenario will be around 5.8 billion tons of oil equivalent (TOE). However, India can reduce this energy consumption by 50 percent under an efficient scenario through three opportunity areas: Increasing the share of rail transport; Optimizing truck use; and Promoting use of fuel-efficient vehicles and alternative fuels.
These opportunities will also lead to reduced logistics costs; reduced carbon emissions and improved air quality; less truck traffic on roads, etc. India has set a target of reducing the logistics costs as a share of GDP from 14 percent currently to 10 percent by 2022, which can save up to 100 billion dollars.
India can save 10 giga tons of CO2, 500 kilo tones of particulate matter (PM) and 15 million tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) caused by freight transport by 2050. Improved mode share and efficient logistics can reduce the vehicular-freight activity by 48 percent in 2050 over a BAU scenario.
This new freight paradigm will also lead to higher economic growth, more employment opportunities, better public health, and enhanced logistics productivity, which will meet many of India’s development goals.
India’s logistics sector comprises over 10,000 types of products and has a market size of US$110 billion. It is expected to grow to a market of US$150 billion by end 2022.
India generates 4.6 billion tons of freight
Currently, commercial activities in India generate about 4.6 billion tons of freight annually, which results in over three trillion ton-km of transportation demand at a cost of US$100 billion. This demand for freight transport has been rising as the population has grown and standards of living have improved, leading consumers and business to demand and consume more goods.
Between 2015 and 2020, India’s GDP grew by 32 percent to 217 lakh crores —making India the sixth largest economy in the world. In the same decade, India’s population also increased by 5 percent, while freight demand increased by 28 percent.
With rising income levels, higher exports, a rapidly growing e-commerce sector, a growing retail sales market, and a projected GDP growth of seven to eight percent in the next five years, the demand for goods movement is also expected to increase at 7 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). As the demand for goods continues to grow, moving them is expected to increase to 15.6 trillion ton-km in 2050.
This activity will spur growth across freight modes, but especially in road-freight transport. This will lead to over three trillion kilometers travelled on Indian roads by freight vehicles in 2050. To meet this demand, India has been continuously improving its logistics system.
LPI score moves up
India had improved its score on the Logistics Performance Index (LPI), a World Bank tool, commonly used to measure a country’s logistics capabilities, from 3.07 to 3.42 between 2007 and 2016. This progress came from improving infrastructure, introducing policies and programs like Make in India, Regional Air Connectivity Scheme and incorporating technological and digital improvements in the logistics supply chain. However, much work remains to be done.
Despite being one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing logistics industry India’s LPI only ranks 44th in the world. This ranking can be improved by tapping into the opportunity areas outlined in the report.
While container movement in India is rising, the share of intermodal rail freight transport remains relatively low. While the total container traffic in India increased at a CAGR of 9 percent between 2010 and 2018, intermodal transport was responsible for a small share.
Over-the-road (OTR) truck transport ferried most of the containers from origin to destination. For example, in the Western region corridors, which account for 70 percent of India’s container movement, intermodal rail transport is responsible for only one-third of the share.
Multimodal transportation growing
With supporting government initiatives and market structure, the share of intermodal transport in India is growing. In 2017, the government sanctioned US$2 billion for building 35 multimodal logistics parks across the country.
These logistics parks are expected to handle 50 percent of the road freight activity and reduce total logistics costs by 25 percent. The Indian government plans to create a central authority called Multi-Modal Logistics Park Authority (MMLPA) with representatives from relevant ministries.
It is proposed to develop logistics parks in 15 cities with highest freight movement (covering more than 40% of the total road freight movement in India) 8 in Phase I of the program. Logistics parks in the next 20 nodes (accounting for 20% of the total road freight movement in India) can potentially be developed in the next phase. The MMLPA will help identify optimal locations and ensure MMLPs function correctly.
India has built a network of almost 300 Inland Container Depots, which are the key to enable multimodal transport as they enable better integration between road and rail and air too. The government has announced plans for new rail-side logistics parks and warehouses to upgrade freight terminal infrastructure.
India’s logistics costs are currently 14 percent of the GDP—higher than the United States and Europe. Over 90 percent of logistics costs are attributable to transportation and inventory management. To increase logistics efficiency, the report said it is essential to increase transportation efficiency by optimizing truck use and incorporating inventory management best practices in supply chains.
Obsolete Infrastructure and vehicles
Low carrying-capacity trucks make up the majority of India’s truck fleet. In India, most trucks are MDVs or smaller HDVs. In nations and regions, like the United States and the European Union, the truck market mainly consists of HDVs.
Trucks in India usually have smaller engines and thus operate at lower speeds. Most of the trucks on the road are old. About 34 percent of India’s truck fleet has been on the road for at least 10 years.
India’s roads are not well-suited for heavy vehicles. Only 54 percent of roads are surfaced with concrete,150 limiting the plying of heavy trucks for freight transport. Also, four to six lanes national highways are limited but growing.
Transportation practices like load planning and vehicle routing are not digitized, standardized and automated. For example, there is a limited use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tracking and a lack of real-time visibility into inventory flow.
The procedures and equipment to execute processes such as material loading, unloading, and storing are not standardized, leading to widespread use of slow, inaccurate manual processes.
There is a lack of automation of common warehousing operations. This leads to excess inventory holdings by decreasing the speed through which the goods move across the supply chain, and inventory loss as operators do not have proper visibility into inventory stocks and locations.
India’s trucking market is highly fragmented. Around 75 percent of the market is run by small owner-operators who own up to five trucks. Only 10 percent of the market is run by big fleet operators who own more than 20 trucks.
Small players are unable to optimize driving patterns and have less ability to invest in larger trucks, digital tools and software, and the expertise required to operate them. This market structure leads to lower asset utilization and overloaded trucks.
The warehousing sector in India is also highly fragmented, with unorganized players owning 90 percent of the market. Most warehouses are small and local instead of regional. Few have accessible connections with national highways and multiple transport modes.
The report said that by optimizing truck use, truck utilization and load factors will be improved. Key levers to this change include policy moves like tax reform and logistics planning, technological development and deployment, and investment in improved assets such as better trucks and warehouses.
The report mentioned that the high-level impact of those reforms against a BAU scenario include: Annual VKT reduction of 81 billion km and 450 billion km in 2030 and 2050; Annual cost savings of US$10 billion in 2030 and US$70 billion USD in 2050; and Improved air quality and reduced CO2 emissions.
The technology-enabled global leader in customized air cargo ULD solutions, ACL Airshop, has doubled its ULD operations footprint and tripled its lease-ready assets for its more than 200 airlines clients since the pandemic struck.
The South Carolina headquartered company whose products and services include pallets, containers, straps, nets, repairs, and innovative technologies such as “ULD Control” and FindMyULD now has over 70,000 ULDs from only 24,000 five years ago.
Its service sites have also grown to 55 of the world’s Top 100 air cargo hub airports. The company manufactures, sells, leases, repairs, and provides logistics & technology management services for customers’ cargo control assets.
Indeed, business has been blissful for ACL Airshop after suffering initial setback when the Coronavirus outbreak began. But with this much ULDs and a significant number of straps and nets at its disposal, the company also seriously takes its role in properly disposing its cargo products while promoting sustainability in the industry.
Sustainability is “everybody’s business”
Steve Townes, CEO of ACL Airshop, explains sustainability is now “everybody’s business” and that the company has taken many initiatives years ago to tackle this issue.
“At the IATA World Cargo Symposium in 2021 in Dublin, ACL Airshop was a leading onstage voice for sustainability issues and initiatives in the air cargo industry. The company will once again take on the same thought-leadership role in London for the September 2022 IATA annual symposium. Sustainability has now become “everybody’s business.” For our part, we already use thinner lightweight but FAA-approved pallets wherever feasible, and that reduces fuel burn for our clients,” said Townes, a well-respected serial entrepreneur who earned his engineering degree from the prestigious US Military Academy West Point.
ACL Airshop has also taken steps to reduce waste and energy consumption at its manufacturing and repair stations.
“Even in our own manufacturing and repair operations, we have undertaken Lean Initiatives to reduce waste and energy consumption. For example, we invested in new Dye Ranges in our cargo straps production lines, which eliminated over 12% of excess energy usage and allows us to produce more units with the same strength and quality, with that much less raw material. Across any company’s operations, a lean mindset and a deliberate focus on sustainability will cause new ideas and newfound efficiencies to be discovered,” Townes noted.
Adding, “Much of this comes down to “How does a company operate?” Has sustainability become a top-of-mind awareness topic in the management and the workforce? At a recent ULD Care online symposium, ACL Airshop (with ACL’s Jos Jacobsen as a Board member with ULD Care), made key points about ULDs and Sustainability, citing ways that equipment providers like ACL can help airlines’ goals in this regard with: Reduction in emissions, Improved efficiency, Improved image, more reliable Safety, and Recyclability. Small initiatives such as going paperless, using collapsible ULDs, mandating fuel-efficient autos and trucks in all company operations, making ULDs with recyclable materials, minimizing the use of one-time plastics for cargo sheathing on planes, ensuring that aged ULDs are recycled and re-purposed, using repairs to extend the useful life of pallets and containers—it all adds up.”
Recycle, Reuse & Repurpose
Townes, with inputs from Jos Jacobsen, COO & Managing Director-Global Leasing, and Wes Tucker, COO – The Americas & Manufacturing, explains, “Of the many thousands of ULDs that ACL Airshop owns, the predominant pallets are “PMC” and heavy-duty models—why? Roughly 70% of all air cargo flies palletized on freighters; hence, the Company decided decades ago to match its asset investments to that.”
And among the independent ULD management companies, “ACL Airshop is definitely the “kings of pallets.”
“On containers and specialized ULDs, the company’s predominant containers are LD-3, plus various specialty types such as Horse Stalls, stackable Car Racks, collapsible containers, and cool-chain temperature controlling ULDs with partners such as Sonoco Thermosafe,” said Townes.
And when these pallets and other metallic materials have reached their end-of-life cycle in the industry, they are not just thrown out. They are either recycled, reused or repurposed, to help the solve the planet’s growing environmental problems.
“Pallets and other metallic materials can be extended in their useful life cycle by performing regular maintenance and repairs in FAA and EASA certified repair station shops. If they reach the point of “beyond economic repair” or present any type of unsolvable safety issue, they can be repurposed into a variety of other uses that require aluminum,” said Townes.
“Cargo nets and straps can be repaired so long as they do not exceed their FAA-approved expiration date, or their damages do not exceed official standards for repairability. Once straps and nets reach the end-of-life for air cargo purposes, they can go to recyclers who typically reduce the materials to pellets, which then go into the manufacture of various non-aviation industrial products,” he added.
Stronger together in facing adversity
Despite the abrupt negative impact on their business during the initial phase of the pandemic, ACL Airshop didn’t cut its workforce, enabling their employees to sustain their families during what was described as the darkest period in mankind’s modern history.
And what was once perceived as a disastrous moment, the pandemic became a boon for the air cargo industry which was tasked to quickly deliver vital medical supplies, including the COVID-19 vaccines and other necessities.
By 2021, ACL Airshop’s resilience, persistence and commitment in the industry was greatly rewarded, with the upward trends resulting to the company’s best revenue performance in its 39-year history.
“ACL Airshop reacted swiftly and safely to remain in full operation during the pandemic. When it first began in 2020, our volume of business faltered just like the whole air cargo industry, but we did not over-react. It might have been tempting to release staff and slash costs, but instead we held firm and just “tapped the brakes” a bit, taking a calculated risk,” Townes recalled.
“As the resurgent freighter operations and even preighters began taking to the skies again, we accelerated with all our customers, maintained full employment, and steady production of products and services. We closed that year in solid condition. In 2021, the upward trends continued for ACL Airshop, it finished as the strongest year of operations in the company’s 39-year history,” he added.
With ULD business at an all-time high to help countries fight the menacing virus, ACL Airshop doubled its efforts to deliver what was needed in safely storing medical supplies and the vaccines. The company even invested millions more to demand growing demand for its products and services.
“The people of ACL Airshop showed admirable resourcefulness in fighting-through the pandemic, and the unprecedented rising demand for our ULD leasing services and manufactured products. We invested several millions more in growing our own ULD fleets in order to satisfy customer demand in every region of our global network,” Townes shared.
“Thankfully, although we had a few cases of COVID among employees, none were seriously grave and all returned to work, and a high percentage of the workforce are vaccinated. ACL Airshop is maintaining a very vigilant approach toward health and safety as pandemic variants keep emerging. We remain focused on speedy responsiveness to clients–everybody across the whole industry has similar challenges, so we are always ready to help meet requirements for extra pallets, containers, and logistics services.”
The company ramped up its production on in-house manufacturing of straps and nets, and nearly doubling its procurement of pallets and other ULDs from its supply chain in North America, Europe, Asia.
“We have found that it’s essential to give advance orders with more lead-time, and in some cases economic incentives to garner preferential delivery and pricing. We are one of the largest independent buyers of ULDs in the market, especially pallets, and we use our buying power to get the best deals we can for our customers. The global price of aluminum in the past 24 months rose to record highs, which affects all of us. So, we have become more creative and aggressive in our commercial practices,” said Townes.
GOING MORE DIGITAL
ACL Airshop was the first in the market to introduce Bluetooth tracking and tracing for ULDs. And now, it has also pioneered in linking the Airway Bill itself to the serial number of the Bluetooth tag and the serial number of the ULD.
“That was the “Holy Grail” for our multi-year technology roadmap, we have gone beyond Beta testing with a major customer—it works. That will give far better end-to-end visibility and efficiency to every shipper and every cargo carrier who uses these new tools,” said Townes.
“That type of data-rich knowledge is no longer just the domain of the giant global integrators. For us, this is a turning point, a major leap forward. The benefits that we hope to give customers include outright cost savings, logistics efficiencies, and better competitive speed. As one client said, “You allowed me to operate more flight loads per weeks with the same number of airplanes.” We feel it is a measurable benefit to “Do more with less”,” he further noted.
ACL Airshop has its operations centers in Amsterdam, Chicago ORD, and Hong Kong as the control nodes for these useful customer resources.
“That gives our customers 24/7 coverage with all of our logistics and technology services, and our readily deployable giant fleet of pallets, containers, straps, and nets. “When the customer needs some extras ‘in a pinch,’ we are the single best call to make in the air cargo industry,” COO Wes Tucker, explains.
As far as the air cargo industry is concerned, what do you think are its biggest challenges and how can these be overcome in your opinion?
Facing the challenges
But while the air cargo industry remains in high demand, business growth has slowed down due to unforeseen events such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the global recession, rising inflation, COVID mutations, higher cost of fuel, different conflicts across the world, among other issues.
“IATA says strong cargo demand and passenger recovery could make the global airline industry profitable in 2023, and the best bright spot has been air cargo. Air cargo business is slowing amid global macroeconomic pressures such as inflation, recession fears, continuing Covid variants, and of course the Ukraine War and other threats. 2022 is still shaping up as one of the industry’s strongest years ever with cargo revenues nearly double those before the pandemic, expected to tip towards “over $190 Billion” by year-end,” said Townes.
“Challenges to air freight include delayed factory production due to severe COVID lockdowns in China; the uncertainties and length of the Ukraine war; a worldwide drop in new export orders; shifts in consumer spending toward services as the pandemic abates, thereby softening the surge of e-commerce during COVID; high inflation; and backlogs & short-staffing at airport cargo facilities. The higher cost of aviation fuel combined with the re-routing of cargo planes around Russian air space is proving to be a costly bogey across much of the industry,” he added.
The ACL Airshop CEO said overcoming these challenges will take time and he believes the biggest wild card would be the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“The biggest wild card is Ukraine and Russia. Some pundits predict economic chaos if the war persists into a long protracted endless conflict. If the war seriously impacts Peak Season 2022, making predictions will become “anybody’s guess.” ACL Airshop management believes that world trade will continue, planes will continue to be the best way to keep critical inventories moving whilst trucks and ships sit idle, and the end of 2022 will see the dawn of a good new year ahead,” he said.
“Having said that, we do have contingency plans “just in case,” but as before, as an enterprise we do not knee-jerk at the slightest flutter, we stay steady then make decisions and act when it’s imperative.”
ACL Airshop is turning 40 in 2023
ACL Airshop will celebrate a new milestone in 2023 with the company marking its 40th anniversary. From its humble beginnings in 1979, mainly shipping horses, it has evolved into a global leader in ULD leasing, ULD sales, ULD repairs, ULD management, cargo nets and straps manufacturing.
Steve Townes, its CEO, who has led the firm to new heights since taking the helm in 2016, shared more insights on the company’s future trajectory in this brief Q&A.
What has changed since Alinda Capital Partners acquired majority shares at the company in 2021?
The new, huge majority shareholder has brought a longer-term infrastructure lens to our business plans, and that has made ACL Airshop better and stronger. They are among the world’s most successful investors in infrastructure, including transportation and logistics. They also have a successful track record of investment in pooled and leased equipment, and experience in backing growth-oriented companies. They are committed to ACL Airshop’s strategy of growing with its customers and share our vision for continued expansion in the coming years. ACL Airshop is the fastest-growing player in its competitive field, with a strongly amplified Brand Promise that customers know and appreciate.
The company will continue to dominate short-term Leasing solutions for ULDs. And invest steadily in growing the network of service hubs, in innovative logistics technologies, and of course in our people. Moreover, we have enjoyed the benefit of the enormous institutional size of our main shareholder, which allowed us in 2021 for example to roughly DOUBLE our internal growth investments above Plan, aimed at keeping pace with our customers’ demand factors. We pivoted, accelerated, and invested heavily. We could not have done that without such a strong institutional shareholder.
Further, we have now accelerated a corollary strategy to our short-term leasing “moat,” now we are also more-focused on selectively building a profitable portfolio of long-term multiyear ULD Management contracts. Long-term contracts require us to invest even more, and to adjust our commercial terms for competitiveness. We have won several such efforts even in the first year with these new institutional resources and strategic guidance. The merits of long-term recurring revenues are obvious, and that allows us to give clients ALL of the technology and logistics services that we have, thereby becoming even better strategic partners for the customer. By adding multi-year ULD fleet management programs to our offerings several years ago, we have grown in new ways with customers who may have started with short-term leasing solutions. Whether for a few weeks or five years, ACL seeks to remain nimble and cost-effective facilitators for its customers’ air cargo missions.
ACL Airshop is over-performing as a new portfolio company of its majority shareholder, and is maintaining its High-Performance Culture and speedy execution skills. We are also investing more in Training programs for our people, including a new Management Development cohort this year of emerging leaders, and sending a few senior executives to the Center for Creative Leadership. So, it’s the same vibrant company that customers have known for decades, but it now has “a bigger gas tank” and a stronger push on the accelerator.
The culture factor cannot be stressed enough: the DNA of ACL Airshop is different from many companies, remarkably positive, action-oriented. We take great care of our people, who in turn give terrific service to our clients. We pride ourselves in answering customers’ requests in minutes or hours, whereas some competitors take days or weeks plus “several committees.” Our new majority shareholder has assisted us greatly, AND recognizes the competitive value of having a superior employment culture.
What’s the latest with ACL’s global expansion quest? How many more locations were added to the company’s portfolio? What’s next for the company?
Five years ago, we announced that we would double the operational footprint of ACL Airshop in less than 5 years. We have done more than that, so far it has grown 20% more than doubling, and more are planned. Our latest quest started in India, two years ago pre-Covid. We scouted for in-country handling partners and wanted to focus on which major airport hubs would be best for our customers.
As we stand today, we plan to announce the first airport in India perhaps even yet this year (2022), with likely expansion to a second major city next year. Delhi and Mumbai are high on our list. More details will be revealed when we make final decisions—delays are due to the challenging array of geopolitical events currently affecting the whole world, along with the seemingly endless variants that keep emerging in the pandemic.
We are also exploring potential acquisitions of complementary companies that operate in what we will call “airport- and airline-centric adjacencies.” We have a small toe-hold in cold chain, we know we need to do more. If you think of ACL Airshop as an equipment-based hybrid solutions company at airports for airlines, it opens the thought aperture as to “what would be a good strategic fit?” We are scouting for deals.
What’s your hope for the air cargo industry given that its role in facilitating global trade and humanitarian efforts is increasing?
Many of our customers are acquiring more cargo freighters, new and used. Planes are being pulled from desert storage for conversions at large modification centers. Manufacturers are planning more dedicated cargo models. These are all leading indicators at the top of the aerospace food chain, we watch those signals closely. We believe that the COVID pandemic has created tectonic shifts in the way we work, travel, and ship goods.
Permanent changes in how goods move around the world’s economies. There now are stronger links happening in the triumvirate of ocean shipping, ground logistics, and air freight—which portends more strategic growth for air cargo in that blended and eventually seamless ecosystem.
We will track closely with our air cargo customers. We will invest in more ULDs to serve their growing fleets. We will invest in more hub locations to serve their expanding route structures. We will invest in efficient technologies to make their cargo operations more efficient for their end-user shippers. And we will keep investing in our own people to ensure that we can quickly and cost-effectively deliver, every day, everywhere.
“Amerijet has been providing transportation services for almost half a century because of our customer-focused culture. Our emphasis is on adapting technology to our customer-focused culture with investments and better processes to reimagine the customer experience for the air cargo industry.” Eric Wilson, Amerijet CCO
For nearly half a century, Amerijet International Airlines has dedicated its services throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America and Europe, from its main hub at the Miami International Airport, supporting their economies, small businesses and people by safely transporting all kinds of goods on all occasions and seasons.
In recent years, the company has been widely recognized for its long-term and short-term ACMI and CMI charter services thanks to its seamless and transparent transportation solutions for customers shipping time-sensitive, valuable, hazardous material, temperature-controlled and other commodity types.
Indeed, Amerijet has successfully connected small businesses, particularly those located in the Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America to the world, providing seamless trade lanes and access to uninterrupted global supplies.
“The customer ACMI and CMI benefits depend on the customer’s type of business and their business needs for a dedicated aircraft operating a specific route. Or, in the case of CMI, their business need requires Amerijet to operate their aircraft for them,” Amerijet Chief Commercial Officer Eric Wilson explains.
With its own fleet of modern aircraft and highly skilled staff, Amerijet operates long and short-term charters for customers from all types of industries.
The Miami-based cargo carrier welcomed six B757 freighters to its fleet in March 2022, part of its comprehensive expansion and modernization strategy launched in 2020. Amerijet operates a total of 20 freighters consisting of 14 Boeing 767s and six Boeing 757s that offer its customers versatility, range, and payload capability, ideally suited for destinations throughout its Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South American and European network.
“This industry is difficult to predict, but we expect to see continued strong global demand for air cargo similar to 2021 and overall, continued pressure on the global supply chain across modes. We also anticipate fuel prices to remain high. We also expect to continue to grow across the business and offer our customers reliable capacity when and where it’s needed.”
When disaster strikes in Latin America, count on Amerijet to be the first to bring emergency relief aid. “Emergency response is different; our charter division handles that. We always strive to be the first carrier providing medical and emergency aid in our service region (Caribbean, Mexico, Central/South America),” said Wilson.
Pulling all resources
This pandemic, Amerijet triumphantly rose to the challenges of the time, pulling together all its resources to deliver vital medical supplies, including COVID-19 vaccines, and other necessities to communities and businesses relying on its services to survive tough times.
“The pandemic enabled Amerijet to showcase what we do best, and have done, for nearly 50 years- transport critical shipments across our network for our customers, partners and friends, including life-saving Covid-19 vaccines. Our entire company has pulled together in unimaginable ways throughout the pandemic to deliver for our customers,” shared Wilson, a prolific and globe-trotting aviation expert who joined the company in February 2021.
Amerijet continues to innovate and introduce cost-effective solutions as the global economic recovery efforts roll on.
“We have learned to expect the unexpected during the past three years. Our customers are telling us they expect the industry will continue to be pressured, with continued strong demand for air cargo capacity. We expect fuel prices to continue to remain high in the near term and we are watching this very closely. Geopolitical events around the world will impact our business,” said Wilson.
“We are still living under a global pandemic. How will sub-variants impact our lives and how will countries respond? While these questions get addressed, we are going to stay flexible, continue to invest in our businesses including enhancing our scheduled and non-scheduled services, stay focused on our customers and learn to live with and grow under uncertainty,” he added.
1st US carrier recertified with IATA CEIV program
Amerijet’s cold chain pharma standards and processes have been certified by IATA since 2017 and in August 2020, it became the first U.S. airline to be recertified with the IATA CEIV program, enabling it to safely transport COVID-19 vaccines where they were needed when they rolled out later that year.
“It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment to see photos and videos of the first shipments reaching airports and the happiness and relief seen on the faces of those citizens who would be able to get their first shots thanks to the work of literally hundreds of logistics professionals around the world who simply did what they do best every day. I am incredibly proud of what we did and will cherish those memories the rest of my career,” shared Wilson.
Equally important to the delicate mission of transporting the temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines is Amerijet’s 360,000 square-foot import/export facility in Miami, Florida. This includes 40,000 square feet of temperature-controlled receiving and cooler space. The temperature in the cooler is monitored 24/7. Alerts and alarms are sent via email and SMS notification to staff members to intercede as needed to mitigate any risk to the temperature integrity.
Known for its exceptional handling service expertise to all types of pharmaceutical cargo such as vaccines, clinical trials, plasma, raw materials for testing, biomedical products and laboratory reagents, among many other pharma and life-sciences products, Amerijet takes pride in providing world-class standards when it comes to these things.
“We are very proud about our CEIV recertification completed two years ago. Recertification can often be more difficult to achieve than the initial approval and we are so proud of what our operations colleagues did to make this happen. Our team across the board understands what is involved in the correct handling of temperature-controlled products. Our team is aided by a wonderful, purpose-built facility here at our home base in Miami with a state-of-the-art industrial ammonia-powered cooler that is the largest on the U.S. East Coast and located literally steps away from where we load the aircraft,” said Wilson.
“The timing of recertification enabled us to be ready to assist in the transport of the first covid vaccines and we worked with a number of parties, both governmental and non-governmental in early 2021 to ship these vaccines produced in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere across our network into the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America,” he added.
SmartKargo and Amerijet
Apart from investing in aircraft, infrastructure and people, Amerijet has partnered with SmartKargo to provide scalability and greater efficiency as well as a streamlined user experience.
“SmartKargo was selected as our cargo management system in 2020 to replace a legacy system that was first built in 1979s. In many ways, the Amerijet Cargo Management System (ACMS) was ahead of its time and supported the growth of our airline for over 40 years. Like all technology, we had simply come to a place where its sustainability was no longer viable and a replacement system was needed,” said Wilson.
“We looked around the marketplace and the SmartKargo cloud-based system offered the flexibility, scalability and importantly the simplicity we needed. We are incredibly proud of our partnership with SmartKargo. Their team has been incredibly supportive and have proven to be adept listeners and observers as we walked them through our business and how we do things. Overall, we are very happy with how the system is performing since we implemented on March 1 of this year,” he added.
“Change is never easy, especially when it comes at the expense of a system all of us knew so well, but with SmartKargo, we all proved we can learn something new that will be ready to support us as we grow.”
Innovative air cargo technology
Expounding further on SmartKargo’s many benefits to Amerijet’s strategic global growth plans, Wilson said it is an essential tool to provide their customers worldwide access to real-time price quotes, bookings and ability to track shipments across their network.
“Ultimately, air cargo is all about speed across the entire shipment lifecycle, and SmartKargo is the tool empowering that speed,” he said. “Digitization is infinitely scalable and as we grow, the right technology will be able to scale with us to support our employees and customers.”
The pandemic has accelerated digitalization across many industries. The air cargo industry, tasked to transport COVID-19 vaccines, was forced to quickly adapt and adjust to the tech world.
The once cost-prohibitive technology solutions became more accessible and affordable giving the air cargo industry more incentive to embrace digitalization.
“The air cargo industry does not lack for challenges and attracts professionals who are good at solving problems. I think in the past, where the industry lacked a strong tech solution, or a tech solution was available but cost prohibitive, the industry simply put people in place to solve a problem. We are now seeing an emergence of strong technology solutions that are more affordable than ever before available to the industry. This is driven by agile companies that see opportunities in the industry and have clever and innovative solutions to fix nagging problems,” said Wilson.
“Amerijet is a forwarding-leaning, pro-technology company and we believe we are just the right size to implement any number of solutions that will make it easier for our employees to do their jobs and enable our customers to have the products, tools and information they need to easily do business with us. Companies need to offer their employees the best, cutting-edge technology. When the best employees are matching with innovative, leading technology, sustainable growth follows,” he noted.
E-commerce continues to be the preferred shopping method of many consumers — and will continue to be popular. People have become accustomed to having supplies delivered to their doorstep, the air cargo industry must continue to provide innovative technological solutions that will facilitate safe and quick transportation of various goods.
“We are shopping as much as we ever did before the pandemic but doing it from the comfort of our living rooms. It’s imperative that customers have a positive experience and the companies that get it right are going to be successful and survive for the long run,” the Amerijet CCO stressed.
“Amerijet has been around for almost half a century because of our customer-focused culture. What we intend to do is adapt technology to our customer-focused culture with investments and better processes to reimagine the customer experience for the air cargo industry.”
Airport International Group announced that Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) has become the first in the Middle East to achieve Level 4+ ‘Transition’ of the Airport Carbon Accreditation Program.
The ‘Transition’ certificate – granted by Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific – is valid until the renewal date in May 2025.
QAIA was awarded the certificate following a rigorous review of its carbon management processes, which affirmed alignment with global climate goals to reach a net-zero carbon status by 2050, in addition to its establishment of a road map to reduce CO2 emissions from fuel and electricity consumption and the ongoing responsible compensation of residual CO2 emissions under its control – per the global airport industry’s response to climate change.
“Since 2013, QAIA has been setting an example of what it means to be a climate-friendly airport and has been the first in the Middle East to achieve ‘Neutrality’. Such a proud feat is instrumental in highlighting not only QAIA, but also Jordan, on the global aviation stage. Given the deliberate industry-wide shift towards environmental best practices, we at Airport International Group are keen on building an even more sustainable and responsible international airport,” commented Airport International Group CEO, Nicolas Claude. “On this note, I extend my sincerest thanks and congratulations to our team, partners and stakeholders on yet another distinguished milestone and for continuously going above and beyond to ensure QAIA remains a trailblasing, sustainable and tourism-enabling gateway within the region.”
“I wish to congratulate Queen Alia International Airport for achieving Level 4+, Transition accreditation from ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation program, a significant milestone in their sustainability journey. By becoming the second airport in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region and the first in the Middle East to achieve Level 4+ status, Queen Alia International Airport is firmly positioning itself as a pioneer in carbon management. It is an impressive accomplishment in an era of unprecedented challenges for the aviation industry. The fact that airports, regardless of their size, are demonstrating strong commitment to operate in a more sustainable way to protect the environment is indeed a very positive sign,” said Stefano Baronci, director general, ACI Asia-Pacific.
IATA has released May 2022 data for global air cargo markets showing that the easing of Omicron restrictions in China helped to alleviate supply chain constraints and contributed a performance improvement in May.
“May offered positive news for air cargo, most notably because of the easing of some Omicron restrictions in China. On a seasonally adjusted basis, we saw growth (0.3%) after two months of decline. The return of Asian production as COVID-19 measures eased, particularly in China, will support demand for air cargo. And the strong rebound in passenger traffic has increased belly capacity, although not always in the markets where the capacity crunch is most critical. But uncertainty in the overall economic situation will need to be carefully watched,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.
Asia-Pacific airlines saw their air cargo volumes decrease by 6.6% in May 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was a significant improvement over the 15.8% decline in April. Airlines in the region have been heavily impacted by lower trade and manufacturing activity due to Omicron-related lockdowns in China however this started to ease in May as restrictions were lifted. Available capacity in the region fell 7.4% compared to May 2021.
North American carriers posted a 5.7% decrease in cargo volumes in May 2022 compared to May 2021. Demand in the Asia-North America market remained subdued, however, other key routes such as Europe – North America remain strong. Capacity was up 6.8% compared to May 2021. Several carriers in the region are set to receive delivery of freighters this year, which should help address pent-up demand on routes where it is needed if economic headwinds don’t persist.
European carriers saw a 14.6% decrease in cargo volumes in May 2022 compared to the same month in 2021. This was the worst performance of all regions. This is attributable to the war in Ukraine. Labor shortages and lower manufacturing activity in Asia due to Omicron also affected volumes. Capacity increased 3.3% in May 2022 compared to May 2021.
Middle Eastern carriers experienced a 11.6% year-on-year decrease in cargo volumes in May. Significant benefits from traffic being redirected to avoid flying over Russia failed to materialize. This is likely due to persisting supply chain issues in Asia. Capacity was up 7.6% compared to May 2021.
Latin American carriers reported an increase of 13.8% in cargo volumes in May 2022 compared to May 2021. This was the strongest performance of all regions. Airlines in this region have shown optimism by introducing new services and capacity, and in some cases investing in additional aircraft for air cargo in the coming months. Capacity in May was up 33.3% compared to the same month in 2021.
African airlines saw cargo volumes decrease by 1.5% in May 2022 compared to May 2021. This was significantly slower than the growth recorded the previous month (6.3%). Capacity was 3.0% above May 2021 levels.
Korean Air has been recertified by IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators Pharma (CEIV Pharma) for air transport of pharmaceuticals.
Korean Air provides customized cold chain services for a wide array of products that call for dynamic requirements and conditions. The airline transports pharmaceuticals such as vaccines, lab reagents and serums, and fresh products including flowers, fruits, seafood, through its “Specialized-Pharma” and “Specialized-Fresh” services.
Through a joint investment with Incheon International Airport Corporation, the airline operates a “Cool Cargo Center” at the airport’s Terminal 2.
Constructed in September 2021, the facility minimizes exposure to adverse environments and reduces unnecessary movement and traffic.
The customized special cargo services facilitated the transport of emergency quarantine supplies over the course of the pandemic. Korean Air, in close cooperation with the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT), and the Korea Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention – formed a vaccine task force for safe and efficient transportation of COVID vaccines.
More than 100m doses of vaccines have been shipped to date, and the airline continues to transport emergency medical supplies including COVID treatments and diagnostic kits, around the world.
IATA’s CEIV Pharma is an international standard that recognizes an airline’s capability to manage pharmaceuticals. More than 280 checklists, including transportation handling procedure, storage facilities, equipment, and the ability to adhere to regulations, are evaluated by air cargo transportation experts for certification.
Valid for three years, IATA certification requires a demanding evaluation of the airline’s capabilities. After the initial certification in 2019, Korean Air formed a task force in February this year in preparation for recertification.
Korean Air is currently considering a move for the new widebody freighters launched by Airbus and Boeing in recent months.
FedEx Express has launched a new trans-Tasman service between Christchurch, Auckland and Melbourne to provide additional capacity and shorter transit times.
The service will run five times a week from July 4 and will add to five existing Sydney to Auckland flights each week.
FedEx said: “We are delighted to inform you that effective from July, FedEx will enhance Trans-Tasman service to improve its value proposition to customers in Australia and New Zealand. Connecting Christchurch, Auckland and Melbourne five times weekly will provide additional capacity while improving cut-off and transit times.
“This service enhancement complements our existing service between Sydney and Auckland and will enable greater penetration of express services.”
According to FedEx, the new route will better support the transport of e-commerce, healthcare, automotive, agricultural and critical spare parts shipments.
Last month, FedEx Express launched a new route between Asia and Europe, connecting Beijing to the FedEx Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport hub in Paris, France for the first time, with ten connections per week via Osaka, Japan.
In the fiscal year ending May 31, FedEx saw revenues increase by 11.3% year on year to $93.5bn, but has outlined expectations of ongoing supply chain disruption, a slow return of air bellyhold capacity and lower growth levels for the coming fiscal year.
cargo-partner is considering its future ownership structure as founder, chairman and chief executive Stefan Krauter prepares to step down.
Karin Schwarz, corporate director of communications and marketing at the Austria-based company confirmed the plans that a decision on new ownership of the company has not yet been made.
Schwarz said: “It is true that our Chairman is planning to phase out and the succession has been well prepared over the last two years.
“The chairman and the executive board are evaluating the best possible strategic options for the foreseeable future of cargo-partner.
“This includes various capital raising options and is not limited to a wholly or partial change of controlling ownership.”
She added: “We have a capable management team in place, excellent employees and sustainable systems. We are not near to taking a decision now.”
Headquartered in Fischamend, near Vienna Airport, cargo-partner achieved a record turnover of €1.8bn in 2021.
The strongest growth was seen in airfreight, where tonnage rose from over 180,000 tons to just under 240,000 tons in 2021, an increase of over 32%.
cargo-partner offers air, sea, land transport and warehousing solutions.
The company has over 130 locations and over 40 country branches in western, central and eastern Europe, north and southeast Asia, on the Indian subcontinent, in Oceania and in the US.