Vol. 9 No. 84                                            WE COVER THE WORLD                                       Wednesday July 14, 2010

No Delay Blues At JFK

     No Delay Blues at JFK…. Turns out the runway closing at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York did not turn out to be the “catastrastrope” (as the entertainer Jimmy Durante would say) that everybody imagined.
     Whilst paving the runway, Port Authority, the airport operator, came up with a “reservations system” to allow far fewer aircraft off the gates, a practice that allowed for endless queuing and the kind of horror story backups that resulted in actual changes in the law concerning airline liabilities for delaying passengers.
     So as the airport taxi line goes from havoc to reservations and the possibility arises that this good idea may go global, we think everybody will stay on board for that.

Editor's Note: We get lots of great stories, but this one is special and to us a wonderful continuation of epoch airline adventure; it tugs at the heart of anybody who ever knew or experienced watching that old, romping B707F dripping oil from all four jugs on the hardstand while it continued to keep on flying, undaunted through the horror days of the Lebanon War meltdown in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
For a guy who has been around the hangar for sometime, it is sweet to see this cargo ride return.

     Lebanese carrier Trans Mediterranean Airways (ICAO Code TMA) is set to commence scheduled flights from Beirut to Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam.
     Both round trips will be conducted twice weekly by deploying an Airbus freighter A300-600F, which can lift roughly 48 tons each time it takes off.
     The inaugural charter flight was on July 11 carrying concert material for Mr. Jean Michel Jarre and the first regularly scheduled flight is July 18.
     TMA's Frankfurt-based GSA, Airborne International provided some information.
     According to Airborne’s Sales Director, Giuliano Kassabri, right now there are few main deck offerings on routes between Europe and Beirut for shippers.
     Luxembourg’s Cargolux Airlines is the only major capacity provider so far.
     Therefore, “the A300F of TMA closes a gap,” stated the manager. He expects a wide range of German-produced goods; mainly electronic equipment, car and truck components, machines and machinery parts, and chemical and pharmaceutical goods to be flown into Beirut’s Racif Hariri International Airport for clients in the Levant region.
     In addition, there is a steady flow of Airbus turbines for carriers routed that way, which are based in the Middle East and operate Airbus aircraft. Until now, Cargolux had transported these engines.
     “But we hope to get a foot in the door and acquire a fair portion of this biz,” Kassabri states.
     He reveals TMA plans that foresee landings at Cairo, Damascus, Riyadh and Sharjah in the Emirates. These routes will be served soon as a second freighter will join the fleet. Exactly when this will happen has not been made public by the management, however (see above).
     TMA, which was established in 1953, has gone through a varied and colorful history.
     It was the first air freight carrier in the 1970’s that offered round-the-world flights with three B707Fs and one B747F.
     Operations came to a halt in the 1990’s due to the civil Lebanese war. In February 2004, TMA lost its Air Operating Certificate as a consequence of constant technical problems experienced by their ageing B707 fleet, which violated safety rules and regulations demanded by the Lebanese Aviation Authority.
     The carrier was reanimated in 2008 when Lebanese investor Mazen Bsat purchased the bankrupt airline for the symbolic price of one dollar, in exchange for clearing the carrier’s USD$60 million dollar debt.
     Bsat, who acts as CEO, acquired the A300-600F to get TMA into the air again.
     The carrier will only provide cargo services.
     Passenger aircraft are not on the purchasing list of the new owner.
Heiner Siegmund/Flossie Arend

Dynamite TNT India

     As demand across the world zooms and air cargo finds itself in a prime position, the Indian government planners have been focusing on enhancing the infrastructure to ensure better facilities. The view is that proper infrastructure can bring in huge savings in services as well as deliveries. As a result, there is now talk of modern cargo handling facilities at airports and dedicated rail freight corridors. Since building infrastructure cannot be done in a hurry, the planners are seriously considering how to overcome the challenges that face the sector.
     It is not only planners – perhaps, those who are more troubled are the regular users. When Air Cargo News FlyingTypers asked Abhik Mitra, Managing Director, TNT (India), how he was tackling the bad quality of infrastructure, he was candid enough to say, “Yes obviously, we as a company can’t do anything independently regarding infrastructure. I would also say that in last three-four years, the infrastructure certainly on the Golden Quadrilateral (the 5,846 kilometre-long highway network connecting the metropolises of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai) and many of the other roads that emanate from that have improved. Average truck speeds have improved in our industry from what they were. The problem comes when the highways reach the cities and the bottlenecks there. It is something that we have to live with and adapt to while we continue to do our business. There is nothing much that we can do about them.”
     Across the express and freight forwarding industry, logistics costs are often as high as 13-14 per cent of the GDP compared to the seven-eight per cent in U.S. and Europe. The urgent need, according to a recent seminar on Logistics Infrastructure, is to build infrastructure and connectivity through roads, dedicated freight corridors and airports with extensive and modern cargo handling facilities.      The lack of these basic facilities, said Mitra, hampers the quality of service to consumers. “That happens and then we take collective action.” Indeed, as he ruefully stated, “It is not a good situation to be in.”
     Even so, TNT is optimistic about business in India. This, despite the fact that multinationals like FedEx and DHL (through Blue Dart), have started serving the domestic market. TNT, in fact, is not too worried about the competition. Unlike most other international express integrators, TNT, by Mitra’s reckoning did quite well last year: “2009 was the end of a very good year for us. We grew our international business and we also grew the domestic business both in the service logistics space and expanded our network.”
     Pointing to the carefully charted out strategy that the Netherlands-headquartered TNT adopted in India way back in 2006, Mitra said the aim was to make TNT the leading integrated player in the Indian market by 2010. TNT had announced at that time its expansion plans that were in line with the global strategy of focusing on building quality networks in emerging markets. According to that plan, TNT had decided to make an investment of around Euros 100 mn in the Indian market over the next five years. The launch of the domestic foray made TNT the first multinational brand in India to offer international and domestic services using an integrated air and road network.
     Mitra emphasized that the good showing happened because “we had one integrated organization doing both international and domestic services,” taking care of customers’ requirements in one move, “rather than one company doing international, another company doing domestic”.
     Surely he must have felt constrained without freighter connectivity within the country. Indeed, he said, TNT would have liked to have freighters. However, “freighters come with a certain amount of scale…” As of today, TNT does not have that kind of market and when “we choose to play the domestic air freight game we will have to get freighters.” The top priority, he said, is to get the ground business – service and quality -- to the next level and help connect India and Europe.
Tirthankar Ghosh

     The cargo business is currently absolutely booming,” Stephan Gemkow, Lufthansa Group chief financial officer said.
     “For the first time in over 10 years we are seeing not just strong imports out of China, but also strong exports into China,” he added
     “Lufthansa Cargo systematically seized market opportunities in the second quarter and invested in growth markets.
     “Since 1 July, our customers can also utilize capacities on board flights operated by Austrian Airlines.
“With them, we are offering an even more dense and larger network, together with an additional plus in flexibility,” said Lufthansa Cargo CEO Carsten Spohr as Lufthansa Cargo moved 830,000 tons of freight and mail in the first six months of 2010, up about 20% as compared to the first half of 2009.
Lufthansa Cargo said June numbers were up a sensational 29.9%.

Asiana Airlines Cargo is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport's 14th all-cargo carrier starting September 13.

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