Vol. 7  No. 102                                         WE COVER THE WORLD                                                           Monday September 15, 2008


     Beautiful Michelle Soliman is making history every day as the first female manager of an airport in the Middle East.
     Michelle manages Ras Al Khaimah International Airport located in the United Arab Emirates.
     Ras Al Khaimah or RAK as the place is known lies west of Dubai, about an hour’s distance down the super highway, but maybe light years distant in terms of development.
     For companies looking to get in early and make room for the boom that will surely come and change this traditional, rather sleepy immensely interesting place forever, RAK is an undiscovered jewel in every sense of the word.
     The place is an enclave of historic and new buildings landscaped by lush date nut palm groves and wilding sand dunes populated by camels and intersecting super highway connections to the other parts of UAE.
     Michelle who was born in the USA, in the state of Montana known for its “Big Sky Country,” should feel right at home, at least when she looks up at night.
     The heavens above RAK when the sun goes down are deep and clear and even, while alive with stars and planets.
     Away from the reflective lights of big cities, RAK like Montana puts on quite a show every evening.
     Michelle is a savvy manager with aviation in her blood after a career with the U.S. Air Force from where she retired before getting married, taking on Australian citizenship and residence down under.
     But then RAK beckoned so Michelle applied for the airport job, interviewed and as it is said, the rest is history.
     The first thing you notice about RAK is that the roads seem new and there are big signs all over declaring this building or housing project or that mega mall building amidst a blizzard of projects apparently in the works.
     The other thing you notice is that RAK, the airport has these great big runways that seem to go on forever and a terminal complex that is clean and well run with an excellent restaurant.
     The food rolls out of the airport kitchen delivered by a smiling Philippine wait staff into a room overlooking the ramp after creation by some chefs that really know their stuff.
     When was the last time you heard raves for airport food?
     Now is it worth the trip to this outpost for a meal?
     Probably not.
     But it is good to know that this place that feels like the calm before the storm; the quiet stream before the gold rush, also has some first rate grub to help you celebrate your discovery.
     Michelle breezes into the room and she is immediately accessible and open and to an American, a welcome voice that sounds like home.
     She is the kind of person that you feel could accomplish anything.
     At almost six feet she could probably center the local basketball team if she wanted to.
     Michelle is totally hands on, paying attention to every detail of operating a big time airport as well.
     Her video interview that accompanies this writing is absolutely first rate and delivers the entire ball of wax in two and a half minutes.
     RAK is right sized to feel like a local town and big enough to handle streams of the largest aircraft.
     “Our aim is to deliver RAK as a gateway dedicated to exemplary customer service,” Michelle says.
     “The facility has plenty of room to grow and a pro-business attitude second to none.
     “Also a fantasy of road connections make it possible for an air cargo company to set up shop here and while realizing substantial cost and overhead savings, connecting to anywhere in UAE and beyond effortlessly.
     “The award winning Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone (RAK FTZ) is another plus.
     “No doubt RAK is coming with places as far away as Indonesia and as close as Iran showing interest.
     “Recently our FTZ opened a German office to attract more European companies to RAK.”
     As she speaks the head of RAK ATC pokes his head in the door commanding the airport manager’s immediate attention.
     Later we learn that an itinerant hotshot pilot has brought his cargo airplane into RAK under less than ideal circumstances and the airport manager has gone to bat in a situation without any victims to smooth things out.
     Maybe one day when this place is twice or four times as big as it is now, the incident will be talked about when people recall ‘the good old days’ of doing business here.
     One thing for sure, get to Ras Al Khaimah.
     Everything about RAK is right for these times and the first female airport manager in the history of an ancient land makes the going great.

Ram Keeps It Simple

     Ram Menen is no dummy.
     But somewhere inside this most genteel and civilized leader of the world air cargo community, there must be the smallest voice that speaks every once in a while as he kisses his wife, Malou and son, Ram Jr. good-bye:
     “What the hell am I doing this for?”
     As Divisional Vice President air cargo for Emirates SkyCargo in Dubai, Mr. Menen is anything, but desk-bound.
     Ram finds himself on an airplane, in a hotel room, and out of a suitcase, more days and nights than he probably would like admitting.
     But Emirates SkyCargo is on a mission to become one of the great airlines in history.
     Mr. Menen has been “Mr. Air Cargo” at the carrier since the airline took off 23 years ago via a couple of rented PIA aircraft.
     As someone who worked his way from the ramp up, he knows that aspiring to be something better can’t be accomplished on the cheap.
     So Ram Menen works very hard, both for the airline and everywhere else for the air cargo industry.
     But that also means daytime is whenever you are in it.
     Try this schedule for a moment. If it’s Tuesday, then this must be Belgium. Two meetings in one place followed by the red eye, all-night flight, followed by all-day sessions in Rangoon or some other place, for crying out loud, are par for Ram Menen’s weekly schedule.
     If somebody at the other end of the phone advises packing a bathing suit, Ram can only laugh.
     All of that said, you couldn’t make these things up. Someone is not named “best in class” just because they show and work hard up all the time.
     What we really like about Mr. Menen, is his outstanding mind, sense of humility and his ultimate flexibility, no matter the situation.
     Ram Menen is a genuine original.
     He is also that rarest of individuals with the dedication and power to work for change.
     Best yet as the video sound bite underscores—he makes his point by keeping it simple!

Sedgley Says Best
Adds Up

     Peter Sedgley, Senior Vice-President for Cargo at Emirates SkyCargo is atop his game as a prime shaker and mover of the Middle East air cargo industry.
     Mr. Sedgley has spent a lifetime in the airline game but his success at Emirates SkyCargo tops all.
     What’s more while some others may be struggling, according to the latest figures by the International Air Transport Association, demand for air cargo across the Middle East grew by 12.9 per cent in the first half of 2008, the highest in the industry.
     "The current global slowdown in air freight does not dampen the hopes for growth in this region,” he tells reporters.
     “There is room for the boom with plenty of growth ahead.”
     But Peter has no illusions as to how success is achieved.
     “Good people are key to every good organization and this is has been proven especially true at Emirates.
     "Our continually high service levels have been a major contributing factor to the airline's successes.
     “As we expand we are sure to employ the very best, experienced people to lead the cargo teams wherever we go. SkyCargo views this approach as paramount to continued growth our business."



RAK Airways' First Lady Farah

     "It is a great feeling to be a pilot and my message to all females:
     “Nothing is Impossible
     “I think any female can do it.
     “All one needs is sincerity, hard work, competitive spirit and the determination to succeed and never give up.
     “No matter what happens."
     RAK has it own airline RAK Airways and the carrier with a growing list of destinations also has the first female pilot in the Emirates and her name is Farah Mohammed.
     "She had to pass through hurdles, which are quite challenging and demanding. The almost three-year training program is a rigorous one and there are no favors or concessions shown for being a woman,” Vice President Operations, Capt. Abdullah told Air Cargo News FlyingTypers.
     "In this part of the world, there is a myth that a flying career is exclusive to men and that women are less skilled to take up this job.
     “Farah has broken that myth by proving she is equally capable and talented.
     “She is a sterling example of a successful UAE woman, and I am sure her success will open doors for more UAE women."

Women In Cargo Hall Of Fame

An Air Cargo News/FlyingTypers Original

   Our exclusive series “Women In Air Cargo” asks our readers to send some words and a picture about somebody that you know who is female and has made a difference in air cargo.
  This effort is not limited to just success or failure, it is meant to raise awareness about the legions of unique women who in most cases are unsung heroines in the air cargo industry.
  So write and we will share your story with our readers around the world.

     In a battle most people just knew would go on forever that U.S. $35 billion dollar contract battle between Airbus/Northrup Grumman and Boeing for 179 aircraft to replace a fleet of refueling tankers for the Air Force apparently will continue into the next U.S. administration.
     At stake eventually could be several hundreds of aerial tanker aircraft worth a couple of hundred billion dollars.
     U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has now officially handed the hot potato to the next President.
     Airbus was awarded the tanker deal some months ago after years of exhaustive examination by U.S. Air Force. But Boeing after having been beaten all around, draped itself in the U.S. flag while mounting an expensive influence peddling lobbying campaign aimed at U.S. lawmakers, many of whom are up for reelection.
     For Boeing throwing money at influencing Congress in this instance was a change of tactics.
     In 2002, Boeing Chief Financial Officer Mike Sears offered Darleen Druyun a job with the manufacturer as vice president of missile-defense systems.
     At the time of the job offer Druyun was a top acquisitions official for the U.S. Air Force reviewing a $21 billion proposal for the Air Force to lease 100 Boeing B767 airborne-refueling tankers.
     Boeing sacked both of them just ahead of U.S. government investigations.
     But down is not out and now the next U.S. President will find this deal tucked neatly in his “in box”.
     Handicappers think a President Obama would favor Boeing as part of his “Buy American” scheme, while a President McCain, the ex military pilot, is thought to favor the Northrup/Airbus entry.
     The KC-45 tanker from Airbus is the military derivative of the highly successful A330 aircraft aloft in passenger fleets today around the world.
     The Boeing KC-767 is based on the now discontinued B767.
     Our view is that the U.S. Air Force made the right decision in choosing the EADS/Northrop-developed KC-45A tanker aircraft over the Boeing KC-767 Global Tanker Aircraft.
     EADS/Northrop Grumman deserved to win, and Boeing deserved to lose.
     Meantime the U.S. military is being served by a fleet of tankers some of which, as one observer put it “date back to the era of President Eisenhower.”

Boeing Strike Impacts Emirates

     Emirates Airline sent regrets in a company press release saying its planned Los Angeles and San Francisco service start ups next month will operate initially with less frequency than had been planned as deliveries of three of its new Boeing 777-200LR aircraft have been delayed due to labor unrest and a strike by 27,000 members of the IAM Union at Boeing.
     Start date of services have remained unchanged with Los Angeles commencing on October 26th and San Francisco on December 15th as scheduled, however the Los Angeles service will initially operate on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and the San Francisco service on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Hainan Airlines launched four times weekly A330 service between Berlin and Beijing September 5 . . . Turkish Airlines said it handled 129,279 tons of cargo and mail in the first eight months of the year up better than 9.2 over 2007 . . . LAN Cargo traffic increased 14.2 percent in August, compared with the year-earlier period while capacity rose 15.4 percent. Strength of import markets, especially in Brazil kept numbers up. LAN said . . . Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) welcomed its first two air charters-Boeing 747-200 freighter and Boeing 747-400 Fs. "This is the first step in GHIAL’s becoming a world-class cargo hub in this part of the country," GHIAL Chief Commercial Officer Viswanath Attaluri said . . . Finnair said it will launch flights to Istanbul on March 4, 2009. AY  will fly twice per week on Wednesdays and Saturdays . . . According to a report Venezuela said it has ordered U.S. airlines to reduce flights after the United States questioned the country's airport security. Delta Air Lines received notification from the Venezuelan government of the order, which takes effect on September 28.

     The terrible Hurricane Ike that pummeled and devastated so much of Galveston and Houston, Texas has caused widespread hardship with massive flooding across its wide path.
     In the immediate aftermath as America pours in relief efforts, people who want to help first responders are encouraged to donate any amount to The American Red Cross www.american.redcross.org, and The Salvation Army www.salvationarmyusa.org.