TOKYO: Japan is getting a new addition in its animated and eclectic world with the launch of the household robot named “Lovot”—an amalgam of “love” and “robot.”
Groove X, a Japanese startup, with funding of about US$71.1 million from investors that include Toyota Motors Corp., chat app operator Line Corp., and the Japanese government, unveiled its first creation in Tokyo on Dec 18.
The AI-powered cuddly robot resembles a penguin with cartoonish human eyes and can interact with owners. It’s capable of showing affection when shown kindness and can be used to watch over the house via a camera that users can access through a mobile app while they are out.
Groove X founder and CEO Kaname Hayashi told the media the Lovot “will draw out your ability to love.”
FINLAND: Using sensors, cameras and Rolls- Royce intelligence technologies, Falco successfully crossed the waters off Turku, Finland last month, unmanned, becoming the world’s first autonomous ferry.
The return to the shore of the 53.8-meter double-ended car ferry equipped with twin azimuth thrusters from Rolls-Royce was even more astonishing with only a remote control used to navigate its voyage.
Rolls-Royce and Finferries, which acquired the ferry in 1993, began collaborating on a new research project called SVAN (Safer Vessel with Autonomous Navigation), to continue implementing the findings from the earlier
Advanced Autonomous Water borne Applications (AAWA) research project, funded by Business Finland.
Mikael Makinen, Rolls-Royce, President Commercial Marine, said Falco’s success is “a huge step forward in the journey towards autonomous shipping and reaffirms exactly what we have been saying for several years, that autonomous shipping will happen.”
“This is a very proud moment for all of us and marks our most significant milestone so far. Today’s demonstration proves that the autonomous ship is not just a concept, but something that will transform shipping as we know it,” he added.
Mats Rosin, Finferries CEO, says history was made in the maritime industry with Falco’s launch which had some 80 VIP guests aboard.
“We are very proud that maritime history has been made on the Parainen-Nauvo-route once again. First with our world-renowned hybrid vessel Elektra and now Falco as the world’s first autonomous ferry. As a modern ship-owner our main goal in this cooperation has been on increasing safety in marine traffic as this is beneficial for both the environment and our passengers. But we are also equally excited about how this demonstration opens the door to the new possibilities of autonomous shipping & safety,” said Rosin in a statement.
Stanley Lim holds the record as the longest serving council member of the Singapore Logistics Association having been with the group since 1992. He served as SLA chairman for several terms, including this year, with focus on globalizing the organization founded in 1973 that represents nearly 600 companies.
Lim, 71, is a well respected figure in Singapore’s freight forwarding industry with an illustrious 50-year career in the business. Apart from SLA, he also serves in the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Association (FIATA) Extended Board where he chairs the Congress Committee.
After completing his Cambridge education in teaching, Lim opted to work for the Government of Singapore as customs officer instead of teaching. Two years later, he moved to the logistics industry.
“I am already 50 years in this industry. I’m already 71,” Lim proudly shared with Air Cargo Update on the sidelines of the first FIATA Congress ever held in New Delhi, India. “I have been doing logistics all these years. Logistics is in my blood and I’m very passionate about it.”
Lim, the Group Chief Operating Officer of Addicon Logistics Management (S) Pte Ltd. which has 10 offices across Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Thailand and Bangladesh, says although he didn’t teach in his younger years, the time calls for him to pass on his knowledge to the younger generation.
“We need to nurture the young,” says Stanley who now teaches diploma courses at SLA’s Logistics Academy apart from running his business and actively serving various trade organizations.
“After I left school in my senior Cambridge level, I was offered to become a school teacher. But I became a customs officer and after two years, I said, ‘I must go into logistics.’ I did not accept the teaching job but I’m now teaching the young in diploma courses in the academy.”
In recognition of his invaluable contributions to Singapore and the global freight forwarding industry, Lim was bestowed the Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (PBM) Public Service Award by the President of the Republic of Singapore in 2001. In 2006, he won the Golden Chariot Award – Achievement for Strengthening International Relationships in the Transport Sector, in Shenzhen, China.
Lim says the freight forwarding industry is moving to the digital world but at a slow pace for various reasons.
“Technology is imposed unto us. It’s disruptive to the industry and we have to adapt to cater to this innovation so that we can be up to date and serve our customers in the right way. The freight forwarding industry is not so receptive yet but we have no choice but to adapt,” the businessman said.
Singapore is one of the leading nations in technology. It’s pushing to become a smart-nation where everything is interconnected digitally.
“In Singapore, the government is pushing for digitalization. We’re aiming to become a “smart-nation” where everything is interconnected. We have to use technology not to replace humans but to get humans to make use of technology for their business,” said Lim.
With so many things to learn and pass on, Lim says he unwinds by meeting people through networking, having a couple of drinks and trading jokes with friends.
“I love humor and humorous moments,” he says.
Three years ago in January, Dubai International (DXB) made history when it officially took over from Heathrow Airport the title as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers.
It’s also the third top airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic a l o n g with Harts field – Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport.
This year, DXB’s passenger traffic reached 1 billion. It marked the occasion with a warm welcome to the family of nine-year-old Arjun who was adjudged the billion the passenger to arrive in Dubai. The family of four, who came from Orlando, Florida via Emirates flight EK220, had been given a luxurious vacation package during their stay.
Founded on September 30, 1960, it took DXB over 51 years to reach its 500 millionth passenger on December 31, 2011. Remarkably, the additional 500 million passengers came within just seven years.
“The billionth passenger has flown through Dubai International Airport, marking a new phase in its journey towards a bright future. One billion passengers have made DXB a part of their personal story and helped shape Dubai into a global hub,” His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President,
Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai was quoted in the media as saying.
Echoing Sheikh Mohammed’s statement, Mohammad Al Falasi, Dubai South Aviation District Business Development Director, says the vision has always been to establish Dubai as the global aviation capital.
“We are not building the largest airports in the world. We are building the aviation capital of the world,”Sheikh Mohammed previously stated highlighting Dubai’s capacity to reinvent aviation with new products, technologies and services.
Dubai South is the emirate’s answer to this vision. With total investment of US$70 billion, this multi-phased urban development covering 145 square kilometers is the site for the Al Maktoum International Airport which is designed to handle up to 220 million passengers and 16 million tons of cargo every year once fully completed.
It will also house a Dh25 billion (about USD7 billion) residential zone, a free zone business park, logistics and cargo district and the exhibition site being built to host Expo 2020 Dubai . In all , Dubai South is envisioned to create 500,000 jobs.
“We have the mandate from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed to turn Dubai South into the aviation capital of the world by building soft and hard infrastructure above and underground. To ensure ease of doing business and the smart way to do business by offering consolidated solutions in one location. This mandate is very important because
28 percent of our GDP comes from aviation,” explained Al Falasi.
By 2025, Dubai South is forecast to generate over 35 percent of Dubai’s GDP.
Dubai South Aviation District is divided into four business verticals—General Aviation which is home to the VIP Terminal, hangars, fuel farm, catering, ground handling, helicopter operations; Maintenance and Technical Support which includes a paint shop, the MROs and the aero space supply chain ; Commercial, which has retail & hotel and the exhibition area; and an Education and Training vertical that hosts the Emirates Flight Training Academy, simulators and different universities and vocational training institutes.
Dubai South Aviation District added last year the Suppliers Complex which caters to small and medium enterprises in the aviation and aerospace industries, specifically the MRO sector. With a budget of US$55 million for 2018, the Complex and two aerospace supply chain buildings were built, designed to allow for easy and quick start-up for related companies.
Globally, the value of MRO & Technical Support industry generated as much as US$75.6 billion in 2017 and by 2022, growing at 2.4% CAGR, it would reach US$84.9 billion.
In the Middle East, the industry is also projected to grow bigger with spending for MRO by major airlines reaching US$10.2 billion in 2027 from only US$5.6 billion in 2017.
Major MRO companies such as Lufthansa Technik, GE Aviation and Advanced Aerospace Industries have successfully positioned themselves at Dubai South Aviation District for the region’s growing MRO industry. In terms of education and training, three major companies have already established their presence at Dubai South—the Emirates Flight Training Academy, the University of South Wales and Dynamic Advanced Training.
“Two more global universities are coming. Construction for their facilities will start in 2019,” shared Al Falasi. “There is a great shortage for aviation professionals in this region.
The Aviation District is also home to at least five FBOs catering to VIP passengers.
ENOC Group, which supplies jet fuel to DXB through two jet fuel pipelines, recently announced the 16.2-km jet fuel pipeline to the Al Maktoum International Airport will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2020 in time for Dubai Expo 2020 to support infrastructure, assuring seamless jet fuel supply to the airlines.
Upon completion, the pipeline will carry 2,000 cubic meters of jet fuel per hour to Al Maktoum International Airport, helping meet the demand for aviation services from a significant proportion of the international visitors to the Expo.
Set to meet the demand for jet fuel at Dubai Airports up until 2050, the pipeline will be equipped with state of-the-art safety features including a leak detection system, complete automation control and quality control, among others.
Multi modal logistics hub
Reaching two thirds of the world within just seven hours, Dubai’s access to many key destinations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa is unparalleled. And this gives businesses at Dubai South the edge to deliver goods and services quickly and efficiently.
“This remains the gateway to the Middle East, Africa and a third of the world’s population within a four hour flight radius and two thirds of the world within seven hours,” Al Falasi said.
For cargo, Dubai’s proximity to most destinations &its technologically advanced infrastructure in seaports & airports, facilities for aviation, cargo and logistics make things happen seamlessly & quickly.
“We move cargo in four hours. It used to be 16 hours,” Al Falasi noted, adding that Dubai South Logistics District offers connectivity on land, sea and air to ensure the best possible results in transporting goods. “The speed of doing business is how we differentiate ourselves
from the rest.”
Strategically located next to the Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai South Logistics is also connected to the Jebel Ali Port, the busiest port in the Middle East and 8th across the world with 150 shipping lanes, in addition to having direct access to the UAE’s main trans emirates highways.
More battery charging stations are being built across Germany as the country pushes for more electric trucks and other vehicles to be used in the foreseeable future.
The rest of Europe agreed to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 37.5 percent from new cars starting 2030. Under this European Union agreement, 15% cut for both cars and trucks should be targeted by 2021 despite strong opposition from car manufacturers.
Signed in December 2015, The Paris Climate Agreement envisions a fossil-free future for earth by 2050 to protect the environment and ultimately keep the global temperature rise well below 2°C.
Incentives to roll in 2019
Andreas Scheur, Germany’s Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, ordered electric trucks to be exempt from truck tolls from January 1, 2019 as part of the government’s long-term plan to encourage the use of alternative energy-powered vehicles.
“Electric trucks will be exempt from truck tolls from 1 January 2019. This is a great incentive for transport companies to switch to green vehicles,” the minister was quoted as saying about the plan in Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest daily newspapers.
Growing urban emissions is one of the many problems facing cities and heavy trucks have been identified as among heavy polluters with a single truck consuming about 40 times the fuel consumption of a personal vehicle.
Germany is expanding its existing toll on trucks from nearly 15,000 km of federal highways to 40,000, leaving only the electric trucks exempt from paying toll fees as additional incentive to those switching to environment-friendly vehicles.
Further, the German government is continuing its “Concept ELV²” project which is essentially the development and testing of heavy-duty electric trucks for distribution operations with subsidy from the Federal Environ-ment Ministry (BMU) and the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi).
Gas-fueled trucks are also exempt from paying road toll charges from 2019 apart from a subsidy of up to EUR 12,000 for LNG trucks and up to EUR 8,000 for CNG trucks.
The Benz eActros
With the German freight logistics the largest in Europe with an estimated turnover of over EUR 170 billion annually, the country leads in innovation when it comes to modes of transport, interlinked roads, rails, water and air routes. Last October, Mercedes-Benz Trucks has delivered yet another all-electric eActros to a customer for on-road testing.
Meyer-Logistik, a company based in Friedrichsdorf in Hessen, will be test-driving a 25-ton truck with a refrigeration unit for transporting temperature-sensitive foodstuffs from the warehouse to different supermarkets in the centre of Hamburg.
The weight of the transported goods can be up to 10 tons. The whole day’s tour is approximately 100 km long and is dealt with by one driver in one shift at first. There is no need to recharge during the trip because the range of the eActros is up to 200 km.
Daimler said Meyer-Logistik is one of 20 customers from different industries that have integrated the heavy-duty electric truck into their fleet. Each of these selected customers will put a near-series version of either the 18 or 25-ton variant through its paces in real operations and will test the respective vehicle for its suitability for their daily field of work.
The aim is to make locally emission-free and quiet driving a reality in cities by 2021, also with series heavy-duty trucks – and all of this as economically viable as with a diesel truck. The test series consists of two phases, each with 10 customers and spanning a total of around two years.
The first eActros of the so-called “innovation fleet” has been in action since September with a customer, and the second one was handed over at the beginning of October. The rest of the first phase of vehicle hand-overs will be completed by the end of the year.
All test customers transport goods in urban areas and use the eActros for tasks which would otherwise be carried out by conventional diesel vehicles – in a wide range of different sectors and categories. The palette ranges from food to building and industrial materials. The body variants range from refrigerated and box bodies to bulk goods and tarpaulin bodies.
Field tests, the real benchmark
Oliver Kraft, Head of Key Account Management Mercedes-Benz Trucks Germany, said the practical tests of the eActros are very important for the company to gauge it effectively.
“That includes working together to define their individual requirements, choose the corresponding variant of the eActros and sort out questions about the required infrastructure. Before the tests started, our experts gave the drivers and the customers’ dispatchers thorough coaching,” he added.
Matthias Strehl, Managing Director of Meyer-Logistik, said using alternative drive concepts are an important aspect of their commitment to their customers.
“As a company that supplies supermarkets with foodstuffs in metropolitan areas, we would like to keep the impact of our work on humans and the environment as small as possible. That is why using alternative drive concepts has been such an important part of our corporate strategy long since. We are happy to be able to test drive the eActros in Hamburg now,” he said.
Adding: “We think e-trucks are perfect for delivering over that last mile – for example to supermarkets. Because they are locally emission-free and very silent, which really reduces the burden on local residents.”
The refrigerated replacement box on the eActros used by Meyer-Logistik is the “W.KO COOL” model supplied by Schmitz Cargobull. It has optimum insulation for energy-efficient transport of refrigerated goods.
This robust body is ideally suited for intensive day-to-day use. The purely electrically operated cooling unit functions completely emission-free and is specially designed for use in distribution traffic.
“Electromobility for commercial vehicles is a highly significant topic that opens up new opportunities. We use these with our refrigerated unit,” said Jörg Irsfeld, Head of IKAM at Schmitz Cargobull.
The truck of the future
The frame of the Mercedes-Benz Actros is used as the basis for the eActros. Otherwise, the vehicle architecture has been configured specifically for an electric drive system, with a high proportion of specific components.
The drive axle, for example, is based on the ZF AVE 130 that has already proved its worth in hybrid and fuel-cell buses from Mercedes-Benz, and has now been funda-mentally revised for the eActros.
The drive system comprises two electric motors located close to the rear-axle wheel hubs. They have an output of 126 kW each, together with a maximum torque of 485 Nm each. The gearing ratios turn this into 11 000 Nm each, resulting in a performance that is comparable with that of a diesel truck.
The maximum permissible axle load stands at the usual 11.5 tonnes. The energy comes from lithium-ion batteries with 240 kWh. Depending on the available charging capacity, they can be fully charged within two to eleven hours (at 150 and 20 kW).
The air cargo industry may just account for transporting a third of world trade annually but those are high value goods worth trillions.
In recent years, much of these air flown goods constitute fresh produce from different farming villages immediately transported to various cities across the world as the demand for healthier food options get stronger.
The food and beverage industry has become so big it contributed US$77.5 trillion in global economy in 2017, largely driven by the rise in population, urbanization and growth in middle class in emerging markets within Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa, according to leading market research firm Euromonitor International.
Consumer expenditure on food and beverages was pegged at US$6.6 trillion or 8.5 percent of world GDP in 2017. Much of the growth was seen in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.
Air flown food is common practice nowadays that it’s not surprising to see guests at a wedding reception in Shanghai eat succulent lobsters freshly harvested from Halifax, Canada flown within hours after being plucked from the waters. Lobsters are a must in weddings in China despite high value on belief that they bring luck to the couples.
China’s new rich consume lobsters at unimaginable proportions helping Canada’s lobster industry—mainly in the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland—to grow more than $5 billion in value annually. The demand for these crustaceans is also high in Europe, Japan, Korea and Thailand.
In Dubai, airlifting food from all corners of the world at whim is also common—mainly among the affluent class. Wines from California, Chile, Argentina, France, etc. Caviar from Russia. Fresh seafood from Japan. Salmon from Norway. Edible flowers from Thailand or Africa. Chocolates from Belgium or Switzerland. Truffles from Italy. Lamb from Australia. Cheese and dairies from France. And the list goes on.
And millions of expatriates in Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates, including millions more in nearby countries around the oil-rich Middle East like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, others, are also heavily dependent on air freight for their food on a regular basis. Poultry and processed meat from Brazil, New Zealand, Africa and Australia; grains and legumes from South Asia, Africa, Asia; vegetables and fruits from India, Iran and Pakistan, and so on.
Grapes, cherries, oranges, pomegranate, among other seasonal fruits, from Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran, are also regularly flown to Europe and other parts of the Middle East via air freight.
And the demand for air transported fresh vegetables and fruits, fish, seafood, meat and dairies, and processed food is forecast to grow even more as consumers’ appetite for food variety and healthier options get stronger.
Healthy perishable market
Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of Emirates, said it transported close to 400,000 tons of perishables year-on-year since the launch of its specialized service Emirates Fresh in April 2017 and is bracing for more shipments in the second half of this year.
The Dubai-based freight carrier said fruits and vegetables were the largest category of perishables it transported at 150,000 tons with more than 20 percent sourced from India mainly for the UAE, home to a large expatriate population from all over the world.
“The three different service levels of Emirates Fresh allow us to respond to the varied needs of perishables exporters. We continue to work with our customers and to invest in and develop Emirates Fresh as well as our other sector specific offerings. This is what helps us stay ahead of the game,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo.
The freight carrier transported over 65,000 tons of seafood and close to 60,000 tons of meat during the period.
Salmon from Norway to East Asia, seafood from South Africa and Uganda to Europe and premium meat from Melbourne to the Middle East, were some of the high-value seafood items it carried along with close to 25,000 tons of meat exports from
In neighboring Saudi Arabia, food and agriculture imports were valued at US$19 billion in 2014. As the largest consumer of food products in the GCC region growing at 18.5 percent annually, analysts forecast the Kingdom’s food imports to reach US$70 billion per annum in the next five years.
The Kingdom’s lands and weather are not suitable for farming, thus, it resorts to food importation mainly sourced from India, Brazil, Germany, France, Egypt and Argentina. And food imports keep the government-owned Saudia Cargo busy all year.
“Despite the slowdown in economy, Saudi Arabia’s food consumption is forecast to grow by 7.3 percent in 2016, to SR224.5 billion and projected to reach SR259.4 billion in 2018. In sum, capital spending in the food sector will expand further, while the value of the casual dining sector will increase at a growth rate of 3 per cent per annum,” said Anees Moumina, CEO of Sedco Holding Group, a leading Shariah-compliant organization, in his interview for The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia.
Turkish Cargo, now ranked as the 8th top freight carrier, is also doing good in terms of perishables, helping in the process to make Turkey’s agricultural products a global brand. The carrier also transports live fish and other seafood products to Oman, Kuwait and some countries in Africa like Ghana.
American Airlines is also doing great in transporting fresh produce. During the first half of 2018, the company moved nearly 12 million pounds of fresh asparagus around the world, helping in the process growers from Mexico and Peru.
“The majority of what we move is green asparagus, but we do move very small amounts of both the albino and purple varieties. And because they are all fresh spears, they do require careful specialized handling,” shared Joe Goode, American Airlines Cargo’s managing director, Sales – Western Division.
“In addition to moving significant volumes of asparagus, we also move large volumes of lettuce, radicchio, tomatoes and mangoes into Asia over the same period of time,” he added.
This spring, American carried multiple shipments of the vegetable on a daily basis between Los Angeles (LAX) and Tokyo (NRT). To put it in perspective, just in 2018 so far, the airline shipped enough asparagus spears to span 8.5 Tour de France routes (one of which is a collective 2,200 miles) when lined up end-to-end, or enough to fill nearly 240 space shuttles.
Cold chain market heated up
The world’s insatiable appetite for air flown food is not only benefitting the air cargo industry but the cold chain market and the rest of the supply chain as well.
Markets and Markets, a data intelligence company servicing 7,500 customers worldwide including 80% of global Fortune 1,000 companies, estimate the cold chain market to grow to US$293.27 billion by 2023 as international trade of perishable foods increases.
“The global cold chain market is estimated to account for US$203.14 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach US$293.27 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 7.6%. The global cold chain market is expanding with considerable growth potential over the next five years. The growth of this market can be attributed to the growth of international trade of perishable foods, technological advancements in refrigerated storage & transport, government support for the infrastructural development of the cold chain industry and increase in consumer demand for perishable foods,” the research firm said in its report Cold Chain Market Global Forecast 2023.
The increase in consumption for perishable foods would require more refrigerated transport & refrigerated storage. Emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific are projected to post the highest growth as it sees massive expansion in food retail chain industry.
“The refrigerated storage market is estimated to be dominated by the Asia Pacific region. Refrigerated storage capacities are growing in the Asia Pacific due to the increased need for reducing wastage of perishable foods. In North America and Europe, the refrigerated transport industry is booming, mainly due to the advancement of technology in refrigerated trucks, vans, trailers, andmaritime reefer containers,” MarketsandMarkets noted.
In the frozen cold chain market, dairy and frozen desserts will drive the highest percentage of growth due to their need for constant temperature control. The market is growing for these items especially in China where the government encourages daily consumption as main source of protein.
“Dairy & frozen desserts are witnessing high demand due to economic growth and rapid urbanization, along with sophisticated marketing channels, which have led to significant changes in dietary patterns. Government guidelines in China state that milk is a major source of calcium and protein, and recommend regular milk consumption, which has led to milk and dairy products being incorporated into the daily diet of consumers,” the report said.
In 2017, ice cream, meat and seafood which required temp-eratures ranging between -18 °C to -24 °C (-0.4 °F to -11.2 °F) drove the cold chain market to new growth.
When natural disasters strike, the air freight industry is also tapped to quickly and effectively deliver food, medicines, shelter and other supplies to victims.
In conflict zones, the weight is also on the industry to deliver vital life sustaining supplies. The United Nations says the world is facing the largest humanitarian crisis since its creation with more than 165 million people in over 40 countries in need of international humanitarian assistance. Across the world, over 815 million people are hungry and more than half of them are living in countries at war.
In 2016, the UN served 164.2 million people in 47 countries in need of humanitarian assistance with the majority located in just three countries—Yemen 21.2 million; Syria 13.5 million, and; Iraq 10.4 million. Yemen and Syria remain major concerns for the UN with just a fraction of those in need helped due to logistical challenge and limited funding.
Responding to these crises on a global scale requires methodical and systematic operation that requires rigid security and cooperation between aid agencies, organizations, air freight carriers, forwarders and countries.
Air freight plays a pivotal role in the delivery of food, medical supplies, shelter and other relief goods in conflict zones and this is particularly challenging in areas where infrastructures have been destroyed or under attack.
Away from the war zones, the UN must also provide for over a million Rohingya Muslims who began fleeing Myanmar by boat or on foot with barely any belongings to neighboring Bangladesh after a military crackdown in August 2017 that led to thousands of deaths and reports of rape and sexual abuse among women and girls.
The UN, which described the military offensive in Myanmar’s Rakhine state where the Rohingyas are deeply rooted as a “textbook example of ethnic cleaning” says it needs US$12.83 million to feed the refugees every month with rice, lentils, yellow split peas, vegetable oil and other food essentials flown by air freight carriers.
Managed by the World Food Program, the United Nations Humanitarian Service (UNHAS) mainly deliver humanitarian aid to different countries operating more than 92 chartered planes, 20 ships and 5,000 trucks on a daily basis.
The world’s largest humanitarian aid logistics hub, the International Humanitarian City, is located in Dubai hosting nine United Nations agencies and over 40 NGOs, making the emirate a vital link in facilitating first responses at a global scale to conflict zones and disaster areas in all corners of the world.
The International Air Transport Authority (IATA) described air cargo as “a trade facilitator that contributes to global economic development and creates millions of jobs. The global economy depends on the ability to deliver high-quality products at competitive prices to consumers worldwide. Air cargo transports over US$6 trillion worth of goods, accounting for approximately 35% of world trade by value” but in recent times its role had expanded to saving lives in areas where there are poverty and conflict.
Apart from food, the industry plays a crucial role in transporting medicines and vaccines to save lives in Africa and other parts of the world. Many major carriers support this move.
“The World Health Organization estimates that immunization programs will prevent more than 4 million annual child deaths by 2018. Air cargo is critical in flying these temperature-sensitive pharma-ceuticals in the best conditions, using cutting-edge technologies and procedures,” said IATA.
Behind all successful companies are people. The employees who think and execute the work. The management that oversees the operations and directs its future. And the consumers who patronize the products or services that companies sell.
Despite the emergence of new technologies that have taken over many sectors in recent years, the value of human capital remains strong in the air cargo industry so much that it continues to invest on people, empowering them with new knowledge, skills and techniques.
ECS Group, the largest integrated GSSA worldwide with more than 1,000 strong employees across 69 offices in 47 countries, is taking its human capital investment a notch up with the launch of #NexGenLeaders—a project that challenges the best young innovators to come up with new ideas on how to help improve the air cargo industry.
Adrien Thominet, CEO of ECS Group, explained to Air Cargo Update the project is aimed at discovering new talents and tomorrow’s industry leaders and giving them the opportunity to grow in the GSSA industry.
“We indeed have the intention to launch an ambitious project on the international scale to discover tomorrow’s industry leaders. In the four corners of the world, the project will be an opportunity for students, startups and ECS group employees to make their ideas known and to deploy their talents with the same goal: rejuvenating our industry by way of innovation,” says Thominet who is deeply passionate about empowering the Millennials with industry opportunities.
“Known as #NexGenLeaders, this project will consist of a challenge lasting almost 6 months, with a totally dematerialized on-line part followed by a live finale. The grand jury consisting of experts from our industry will elect the best projects which will be revealed during the Munich “Air Cargo Europe” event in June 2019,” he added.
The project involves collaborating with many colleges and universities worldwide as well as numerous nurseries and accelerators. ECS said #NexGenLeaders will be a wide-ranging activity for the company this year. The initial response has been encouraging with even airlines and transit agents pledging support.
“Convinced of the value of this project, several partners (airlines and transit agents) have also promised their support to help us carry this project through,” said Thominet.
A Dynamic Network
With an operation that spans through continents, dozens of countries, involving multi-cultural workforce working at different time zones, ECS Group says people united with common goals despite their diversity is the core strength that drives it to succeed.
“The strength behind ECS Group has always been our expertise and, more particularly, the expert input of our collaborators all over the world. Local group managers are fully aware of their market and have established privileged ties with their partners. These “local heroes” as we sometimes call them form a single joint network enabling our Group to develop over the years. Our managers and collaborators have a wide range of profiles adding to our complementary capability and making our Group particularly dynamic from the commercial standpoint,” explained Thominet.
“The men and women in the group are the keystone behind our growth. Although we have our eyes constantly turned toward the future, we also count a great deal on the new generation to take up the everyday challenges and invent tomorrow’s industry with a new way of seeing things and having groundbreaking ideas. We are convinced that their new ways of seeing things, from an external standpoint, are the ideal complement for the skills of our more experienced collaborators,” he continued.
Combining the expertise of the company’s experienced people while welcoming innovative ideas, help ECS Group maximize its resources and spell growth.
“What we are striving to do at ECS Group is to add together all these strengths and complementary profiles. They represent our ace card and we are reaping the benefits of this strategy every day, within the group, the affiliates, and more generally on an industry-wide scale,” said Thominet.
ECS Group capped 2018 with new partnerships, collaborations and prospects for expansion. First, it welcomed new shareholder Naxicap, a multibillion private equity firm focusing on leverage buyouts and growth capital.
Thominet said Naxicap’s entry as investor will enable ECS Group to “considerably bulk up our investment plan and work on new acquisitions to expand our already considerable network even more.”
In Latin America, ECS Group formed a new partnership with the Brazil-headquartered BCS Air, enabling it to expand on the market.
“Our partnership is the result of a long friendship and we are now reaping all the benefits. The BCS AIR team, headed by the particularly proficient João Ferreira, this is what one might call a perfect team, recognized as the leading GSSA in Brazil, for technical and innovative accomplishments. The team is dynamic, enthusiastic and deeply committed to the future of our group and its expansion, especially in Latin America,” Thominet shared.
Last year, ECS also demonstrated its growing expertise on Total Cargo Management (TCM) by replacing the airline entirely for the complete cargo chain.
“This service offer, the heart of our strategy, illustrates the confidence that our airline partners put in our expertise and performance. We have this type of partnership with JetStar Asia, Air Italy and more recently with NokScoot. We are particularly proud of this cooperation which points toward the future of our group,” said Thominet who noted that this is an important goal for ECS Group that requires deep commitment from its team.
This year, ECS Group envisions keep up with its positive growth with new projects, products and innovations with Thominet saying they are “constantly on the lookout for new, solid and sustainable partnerships.”
“ECS Group now has locations in the four corners of the world and our network extends to every continent. it does not prevent us from continuing our organic growth however, through acquisitions (recently in Latin America with BCS AIR and last year with EXP-AIR Cargo in Canada); other projects are under way and every day is a challenge to plan the way our group could deploy further. We take great care of this network which is what makes us strong, stronger from day-to-day. It is particularly true in North-east Asia and the Pacific where we have several ongoing projects for expansion to help us better set up in the region,” the CEO said.
Adrien Thominet, the CEO of ECS Group, has been with the company for more than 23 years. An economics graduate, he first worked in New York and Tokyo before settling back to his roots, Paris, France.
Constantly looking out for growth, this pragmatic and dynamic business leader who helped steer the company to new heights in the GSSA industry, shares more insights with ACU on different issues facing the air cargo industry.
As someone who has been in the GSSA business for many years, please briefly tell us the perks of nurturing a career in this industry.
Our industry is somewhat water-tight but it does actually offer thousands of opportunities. With the constantly growing demand, the air cargo industry is developing continuously, and the field of possibilities is as open as ever. The industry players are all driven by the same concern for performance and renewal.
The industry is particularly effective for those who dare. In this line of thinking, it is also possible to bring to the fore innovative ideas, and to move the traditional ways of doing things. In short, it means constantly maintaining action and taking up new challenges every day. From a more personal standpoint, I have had the opportunity of working in a group which has never stopped its expansion in terms of performance and geographical coverage. My job is especially interesting, as is the group in which I work. Being constantly in the field, face to face with the players who make and keep this industry alive is an experience which is a long way from the humdrum will never be a simple routine.
The Yellow Vest Movement in France is gaining momentum, what’s your stand on issues being raised as one of the biggest employers in the GSSA industry?
Above all, the Yellow Vest Movement is a protestation movement reacting to the government policy (tax on automobile fuel, increased cost-of-living). At ECS Group, we do not “do” politics but at the heart of our concerns lies the well-being and development of our cooperators. There is a very strong team spirit at ECS group and we want to develop it, by setting up various tools and processes, by internal communication, organization and above all, by involving the teams to the utmost so that they feel that they are supported by the group.
The Yellow Vest Movement has not affected our group in any way and has not had any impact on our quality of service and our in-house organization.
In terms of innovations, please share with us your latest projects in this front.
Internally, we have begun to deploy business intelligence and reporting tools. These innovative solutions will revolutionize our way of working and dealing with the various markets. Not only are these tailor-made tools easy to use, but they also represent a considerable gain in time and boost our performance enormously. We will soon be announcing a new product.
Innovation is therefore the heart of our concerns and our everyday work, without it being a constraint. On the contrary, we see it as a tool, a driving force and a target. That is why innovation is part of the 5 values at ECS Group.
In your opinion, how can the air cargo industry in general address problems with digitalization?
As mentioned previously, the matter of innovation, digitization or any other conversion of our methods should not be seen as a constraint but as a chance. Change is often considered warily, whereas it should be greeted enthusiastically.
Digitalization is essential for our industry and we must accompany this change. Obviously, the change is already taking place but without everybody’s backing, it will take longer for the process to be implemented entirely. Performance improvement and making our daily work easier should offer the means of overriding any reticence in changing our way of working.
John Pearson has been appointed the new CEO of DHL Express and member of the board, succeeding Ken Allen, who has become CEO of the newly established DHL eCommerce Solutions division.
Pearson previously operated as the CEO of DHL Express – Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa and has been instrumental in DHL Express’s decade-long development.
Frank Appel, CEO Deutsche Post DHL Group, said, “We are pleased to have John Pearson join our corporate board. He has a proven track record and a deep understanding of the Express business. John’s extensive operational knowledge and business experience within the division will ensure a continuation of the successful growth path of DHL Express in the years to come.”
DHL Express aims to capitalize on developments in global trade, particularly increasing e-commerce markets in Europe, the US and Asia, with significant potential for cross-border express shipping in the consumer area. The company will also look to grow B2B-driven logistics services for the automotive, banking, retail, technology, and life sciences and healthcare sectors.
Commenting on his appointment, Pearson said, “DHL Express has been a tremendous success story over the past 10 years, where its annual top line growth has made substantial financial contributions for the group. This development was very much driven by our dedication to quality, the uncompromising engagement of our 100,000 employees worldwide and the customer-centric culture. I am proud to take Express to the next level. We will use all existing channels to transform every opportunity into top line growth. We are modernizing our regional and intercontinental air fleet; we will continue to invest in our international infrastructure and innovative technologies; and we will make sure to further align our delivery processes with the needs of our customers in order to maintain our excellent level of customer experience and satisfaction.”
Air Atlanta Icelandic has made a number of management changes, with new roles for Hannes Hilmarsson, Baldvin Hermannsson and Unndor Jonsson.
The Icelandic ACMI and charter airline says the main objective of changing the corporate structure is to increase the focus on Air Atlanta’s fleet growth and renewal, to strengthen business development and strategic planning, and to further enhance aircraft investment.
Hilmarsson, who has been CEO since 2006 assumes the role of executive chairman of Air Atlanta Icelandic and managing director of sister company Northern Lights Leasing.
Hermannsson has taken over as CEO, having been senior vice president sales and marketing since 2008 and a member of the executive committee.
Jonsson takes the role of vice president sales and marketing, having previously worked at Air Atlanta from 1996 to 2007 various flight operations roles and re-joining in 2018 as director travel.
Hilmarsson says the company has come a long way since he took over as CEO in 2006, and has built up an efficient fleet of Boeing 747-400s while retiring older and inefficient aircraft.
He says: “I am personally convinced that these management changes will make a good Company even better, and at the same time strengthen the airline for the next chapter in Air Atlanta‘s successful history.”
Hermannsson says he takes the role “with pride and great enthusiasm” after 10 years in charge of sales and marketing.
He says: “Air Atlanta Icelandic has a great history, dedicated and hard-working employees and has accumulated a wealth of experience and competencies that are hard matched in the industry. It is on these foundations that the Management team intents to move Air Atlanta Icelandic further into twin engine operations in coming years, whilst at the same time retaining our flexibility and reputation as a quality, reliable operator.”
Coyne Airways recently announced that Tristan Koch joined the airline in January 2019 as its new Managing Director, as part of ongoing global expansion plans.
Based in London, UK, Koch’s responsibilities will cover the original markets Coyne pioneered around the Caspian, as well as 50 markets in the Middle East and Africa, which Coyne now serves.
“The appointment of Tristan marks an important landmark in Coyne’s history as we celebrate 25 years of serving niche markets,” said Larry Coyne, Founder and serving Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Coyne Airways.
“We are expanding our existing business and extending our operations to new territories, and Tristan is very much part of that planned growth.
“He brings a wealth of cargo experience and will spearhead the next phase of Coyne’s development.
“Since we began our operations in 1994 we have prided ourselves on our pioneering spirit seeking to offer our customers solutions in difficult places.
“Tristan brings an entrepreneurial spirit and customer focus that will enable us to fulfil our ambition to open new routes and offer increased capacity and scheduling to our existing customers.”
Koch has over 18 years of experience in the air cargo industry, including senior roles at British Airways, and, most recently, American Airlines, where he was Managing Director Cargo Sales, EMEA ISC.
Coyne Airways operates to some of the world’s most difficult to reach destinations, including the Caspian, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Africa, with headquarters in London, UK and a hub in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The cargo carrier is building its network to expand its existing markets around the Caspian and to link up its operations to the Gulf and Africa.