Vol. 9 No. 51                                                            WE COVER THE WORLD                                                  Monday April 19, 2010


Volcano Has Airports On Ice

European Politicians Face Cloud Of Criticism

World air cargo backs up as Europe airports remains mostly closed on Monday. Here Incheon cargo awaits Korean Air clearance for flight to Frankfurt.

      Although German airspace is officially still closed, Lufthansa has exclusively told Air Cargo News FlyingTypers that the airline managed to obtain 50 special permissions from the German aviation authorities to conduct immediate long-haul flights from Asia, the Americas and Africa to Frankfurt, Munich and Dusseldorf.
      “This means our stations can commence checking in up to 15,000 passengers who are eagerly waiting to get a flight to Germany, and handling agents can load some air freight tonnage in the belly-hold compartments of our Boeing and Airbus fleet for transport today,” said Peter Schneckenleitner, Lufthansa’s Manager Corporate, Finance and Sustainability. The aircraft are scheduled for landing tomorrow morning at the aforementioned airports.
      These airports, along with the rest of the German civil airports, remain officially closed for air traffic until tomorrow morning 2:00 a.m. In addition, LH Cargo will conduct six MD-11 freighter flights on special permission today; three outbound to Shanghai, Hong Kong and Viracopos near Sao Paulo, and three inbound from Almaty to Frankfurt.
      Today Austria and the Czech Republic reported the re-opening of their airports, including Vienna and Prague. Commented Lufthansa’s Schneckenleitner, with irony in his voice:
      “It’s very curious that the ash cloud seems to stand still above German territory with neighboring regions reporting clear air.”

We are pleased to announce that DB Schenker has sourced additional warehouse space worldwide to accommodate as much client volume as possible.

      Peter Sauer spokesman for German logistics giant DB Schenker told ACNFT:
      “DB Schenker is trying to cope with the situation as well as possible.
      “The volcano has cut supply chains globally and there is a global congestion often of thousands of tons.
      “DB Schenker is still accepting shipments.
      “We are pleased to announce that DB Schenker has sourced additional warehouse space worldwide to accommodate as much client volume as possible.
      "Furthermore we wish to advise that DB Schenker is in the process of developing solutions to this congestion to move freight via alternate transit points.
      “Indeed, our experts have arranged several flights already from Asia to southern Europe with onforwarding to final destinations throughout Europe via Schenkers European Land Transportation Network.”
      Meanwhile, European airlines and international aviation organizations have harshly criticized the complete absence of effective crisis management by the EU and their transport ministers.
      “It’s scandalous that the decision to shut down wide parts of the airspace is based only upon one source: a computer simulation provided by the British Volcanic Ash Advisory Center,” offered German flag carrier, Lufthansa.
      “No doubt, safety comes first.
      “That is why we supported the immediate closure of airports after the volcano erupted.
      “What we criticize, however, is the failure of the EU member states to start an immediate series of scientific tests to evaluate the contents of the ash cloud in order to get hard facts for further decisions.
      “Unfortunately, this was severely neglected by politicians and national authorities alike,” Herr Schneckenleitner told ACNFT.
      According to sources, so far Lufthansa has lost 25 million Euros per day at a minimum, a figure that is based on the costs incurred during one day of the recent pilot strike.
      The airline did not rule out filing a claim of recourse should tests prove that the closure of airspace was based on faulty information.
      Emirates confirmed in a recent statement that the volcanic ash disruptions have caused losses upwards of 50 million US dollars, and that is mounting.
So far, 80,000 passengers of the Dubai-based airline have been impacted with 30 aircraft grounded.
      Tim Clark, (right) President of Emirates, commented: “The scale of this crisis is unlike anything I have experienced in my career.
      “The longer it continues, the more complex the recovery process becomes. Like every carrier operating to Europe, Emirates is facing huge losses – USD$10 million a day, in our case.”
      The sharp criticism issued by carriers goes in line with comments by the Association of European Airlines (AEA) and ACI Europe, the regional European branch of the Airports Council International (ACI).
      In a joint statement issued Sunday, the organizations spoke of the cancellation of 63,000 flights with devastating impact for the aviation industry.
      While Europe’s airlines and airports consider safety to be an absolute priority, they are questioning the proportionality of the flight restrictions currently imposed.
      The eruption of the Icelandic volcano is not an unprecedented event and the procedures applied in other parts of the world for volcanic eruptions do not appear to require the kind of restrictions that are presently being imposed in Europe.
      Said Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, (left) Secretary General AEA:
      “Verification flights undertaken by several of our airlines have revealed no irregularities at all, which confirms our requirement that other options should be deployed to determine genuine risk.”
      This has been confirmed by a number of carriers, among them Dutch KLM and German Lufthansa.
      According to KLM, two commercial flights to the Far East were operated on Sunday evening on special permission by the Dutch authorities.
      A Boeing 747 full freighter and a Boeing 747 combi aircraft operated the flights bound for Sharjah and Bangkok/Taipei respectively.
      Earlier on Sunday, KLM successfully operated nine test flights.
      None of these flights encountered any problems. According to KLM President & CEO Peter Hartman, (right) it is completely safe to operate flights during hours of daylight.
      Lufthansa had similar experiences with a series of test flights last weekend, including some missions with MD-11 freighters.
      “Our technicians didn’t detect any ashes or other particles in the turbines after return of the aircraft,” said Klaus Walther, Lufthansa’s Head of Corporate Communication.
      Down on the ground we reached out to Jo Frigger, CEO of EMO Trans, who noted that “European governments were slow to pick up on the impact of shutting (airports) down” as clouds from Iceland caused the aviation business across the continent to go “ashes to ashes.”
      “As much as the volcano event was reported, it was still a beautiful European weekend, which may account for the initial laissez-faire attitude.
      “But today (Monday) with necessary air freight goods dwindling and test flights occurring at various gateways, if results are good, things should get going again.
      “The impact is much wider than just flowers and vegetables.
      “Now we must also account for large portions of the manufacturing community that have or will run out of important parts.”
      “Monday is a slow day for shipment action as most companies move their cargo at the end of the week/weekend.
      “If this goes on much longer the story will be quite different.
      “As for EMO our goods are at the airport awaiting clearance for takeoff,” Herr Frigger said.
      In the meantime, the late-out-of-the-gate International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has remained mostly numb and silent since all of this began, is now adding its voice in criticizing European governments “lack of leadership in handling airspace restrictions.”
      “We are far enough into this crisis to express our dissatisfaction with how governments have managed it – with no risk assessment, no consultation, no coordination and no leadership,” said IATA DG Giovanni Bisignani.
      As you read this, flights are operating into Portugal, Spain, Greece, Russia and Turkey.
      Partial closures are in effect for France (northern airspace, including Paris, closed until today), Italy (northern airspace closed until today), and Norway (limited flights in the north).
      Still closed are Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, & UK.
      What may be the strangest or most telling bit of “other news” in air cargo to come out of this latest crisis is the almost total lack of information on any air cargo website informing customers or the curious about what to expect.
      The thing that makes this almost total lack of information so strange is that companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL (DHL does note “service interruptions in Germany” but offers no alternatives) and others, including IATA Cargo, all regularly spend vast sums selling their product with guarantees of transparency and total customer information.
      If the future is indeed paperless and the virtual communications model is “at the doorstep” of air cargo, then what better time than now, in a crisis that has shut down the industry’s European operations, to utilize the internet as a quick and accessible avenue of communication? At a moment when most are rushing to their computers to garner any information as to what to expect, how can all these companies afford their silence?
      As of Monday in New York City at 1200 hrs, the aforementioned companies, along with the vast majority of air cargo companies, have not thought to include the slightest tidbit on their web sites that would update the consumer on what they are doing to cope with a crisis that is now described as having a worse financial impact on the air cargo industry than the 9/11 tragedy.
      Kudos must therefore go out to Lufthansa Cargo, Panalpina and the few others who have updated all weekend long and continue to do so.

Info Tells Airport Story

     Here after enduring a long unintended stay in and around airports shut down by a volcano is an animated story of one man's epic journey, created entirely from public domain symbols.
     While everyone is searching for answers here is an airport story told in the language of airport infographics.


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