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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 20 No. 10
Monday March 15, 2021
Where Is Air Cargo Now
WOXOF Update

In aviation the letters spoken as a word reporting atmospheric conditions is WOXOF.
     "Weather: Overcast, Ceiling Obscured, Visibility Zero in Fog."
     Pronounced like it looks: "WOXOF," when spoken most often gets the same response from everyone, especially pilots: “you're not getting me up in that.”
     In 2021 as the year progresses and Spring begins, are the universal questions we seem to be asking air cargo people. Some of what is happening or is likely to occur gets lost in the daily fog of shouldering the huge responsibility of our time, delivering the vaccines.
     So here for air cargo comes that question again: WOXOF-“Where Are We Now?”
     FT talked to several disciplines of our business all over the world. Here are the latest responses.
     It is finally starting to look like folks are seeing a bit clearer with 2021 taking shape as a year of gradual comeback.

Webinar & Survey Blitz

     Get ready for a webinar blitz and surveys, and even more uncertainty as air cargo attempts to get a grip or at least a bit firmer hold on its developing activities in digitization, dealing with the growth of e-commerce in every aspect of retail including grocery delivery at home, and advanced pharma handling.
     Of course Topic A in all of this is the gigantum amount of paperwork our industry still generates every day, (reportedly a sky full of B747s).

Hope Springs Eternal

     But everyone who pays attention to these things knows the passenger business traditionally has dictated where and how much cargo the combination carriers will move.
     There are signs that the runaway success of United Airlines Cargo under Jan Krems and the superstar efforts at Qatar Cargo by Guillaume Halleux and at Virgin Cargo by Dominic Kennedy are but a few examples of excellence in air cargo. We are hopeful that these results have delivered some impact to the passenger-minded airline bosses to take a ‘greater than before’ view of air cargo.
     Last we heard, it appears that the UA “Flying Dutchman” has access to as many aircraft as he can fill up with cargo.
     It is therefore reasonable to assume that, not only has the playing field changed but also, recent widespread air cargo demand has altered thought about what might be possible for air cargo, past pandemic.
     And let’s not hear any more talk about serious constraints ahead for air cargo.
     Cargo people need to get some respect everywhere, especially without any dismissive “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” thinking by some companies.
     We need some attitude for sure, but first let’s get our numbers straight.

The Searchers In the U.S.

     In the U.S. the Airforwarders Association, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, and the Airports Council International-North America have combined forces to send a survey to a mailing list of 3,000, looking for answers.
     Although the view is North American, if they receive enough participation, the results might be interesting.
     Meantime down on the ground where the rest of the world operates we talked to some people asking:
     Report on your air cargo business and outlook ahead right now? What went well and what didn’t? What needs to be changed?

The American Way

Jessica Tyler     Jessica Tyler, President-American Airlines Cargo told FlyingTypers:
     “Since the FDA issued the first Emergency Authorization Use (EAU) for the vaccines in December, we’ve partnered with our customers to move as much vaccine and vaccine-related material as requested. With the Johnson & Johnson EAU approval by the FDA, we expect our volume to increase in the second quarter with peak distribution occurring in the 3rd and 4th quarters of this year.      
    “With the world’s largest network, we’re doing our part to extend the reach of the integrators who are doing the majority of the distribution effort, shipping to destinations they can’t efficiently reach in the U.S. and beyond. With the strength of our network combined with our CEIV-certified temperature- controlled product, we are well-suited for the task and are proud to be a part of the efforts to help our world recover.”

Bob RogersThe Voice of the Cans

     “Vaccine transportation, from my perspective,” Bob Rogers, Hong Kong-based ULD Care, getting right to the point told FlyingTypers, “has two major angles:
One is the temperature management and the other is the tracking/monitoring of the shipments.”
     Whilst the earnest Mister Rogers of ULD Care didn’t say much, he did indicate that advances in tracking abilities are on the table with some breakthroughs expected sooner than later.

5,000 Reasons Plus 1

Jason Berry      Why does Canadian air cargo in 2021 deserve higher profile and some well- deserved attention at Air Canada?
     Here are 5,000 reasons.
     Jason Berry, the new Vice President Cargo at Air Canada proclaims:
     “Five thousand cargo only flights and counting! “Thanks,” Jason said, “to everyone at Air Canada and our partners around the world that continue working 24/7 to keep our customer’s cargo moving!
     “We are making sure we take care of customers that rely upon us for capacity in a time of challenges all around,” Jason assures.
     We can also expect that export of those shipments of Canadian lobsters favored everywhere have somehow gotten into the mix.
     “We have some freighters coming on line and our drone program continues,” Jason concluded.

Vito Cerone+1 A Fond Farewell Vito

     Vito Cerone, a man for all seasons, plus a decent guy and a force for good to boot, who served as Vice President, Cargo Sales & Commercial Strategy at Air Canada, buttoned up a 31 plus year career at the carrier, where he covered many bases including leading the customer charge in air cargo.
     Best of luck ahead, Vito!

Looking Out For #1

     “Vaccine distribution may have perhaps been an over hype considering that one has realized that the U.S., Europe, Russia, China and India will be the main regions where the manufacturing facilities are located and therefore have also featured the majority of the movements.
     “It is important to keep in mind that the first preferences may be given for local consumption,” said Keshav Tanna, member, FIATA Board and CEO of Links Cargo Agency Forwarders based in New Delhi.


Keshav TannaThe Reality Check

     Mr. Tanna, who counts several decades in the freight forwarding business, also noted:
     “The talked about need for thousands of jumbo 747 vaccine freighters, as these shipments ramped up, now definitely does not seem to be a reality.”
     But with that comes a warning:
     “Vaccine distribution, being complex in nature,” Keshav said, “reveals that the small and medium size forwarder might not have the same competitive edge that integrators or the MNC forwarders may have, especially considering that the aforementioned bigger companies have made significant investments in this regard.
     “Not to mention that Governments too are very involved in the workings of vaccine logistics, this being a life-threatening issue.
     “So looking at the current situation from a an exclusively profitability perspective, might prove to be short sighted,” Keshav Tanna said.

Wide Open Delivery

     “We cannot overlook that there are significant hinterland areas where vaccines must reach, particularly in countries like China, Russia and India, where a large number of population is regionalized away from the main city centers.
     “This challenge requires significant domestic distribution capabilities in terms of road transportation coordination and regular operations under suitable conditions,” Keshav Tanna noted.

Cargo Rates Bloodbath

     “India,” Keshav said, “as elsewhere has seen a significant drop in volumes, both inbound and outbound.
     “With international passenger flights coming to a virtual halt from one day to another, India, like many other countries, relies mostly on freighter capacities.
     “The drop in capacities in excess of 30% or so has taken a direct toll on the airfreight rates.
     “Rates have spiraled like never before and there was a virtual blood bath in the market place. Initially rates shot up by 300-400% and only certain high-end commodities like pharmaceuticals could accommodate the increases.
     “In time, as more freighter capacities came into the market, there was some stabilization, but today rates are still far from affordable,” Keshav said.
     “Charter flight operators saw this as an opportunity and there are quite a few private charter operators now active in the market.”

Across The Bubbly Waves

     “All this,” Keshav assures, “had an immediate and direct impact on ocean freight.
     “Rightly or wrongly, ocean too went out of control and with virtually no affordable inventory available; the India trade took a hit like never before with many a small business forced to shut down their international trade.”

Time Will Tell If The Goose Lives

     “So for many, with air cargo unaffordable and ocean freight with no affordable inventory, time will tell if this situation has killed the goose that lays the golden egg?
     “Only time will tell.
     “Something, needless to say, has not been right!” Keshav declared.

The Upside

     “E-commerce is always rising at rates like never before and COVID spring boarded it to another level.
     “Lockdowns and work from home conditions have led to a boost in online shopping, but can airfreight survive only on that and certain high-end commodities, is the question?
     “No doubt, air cargo is a very volatile commodity but trade needs sustainability and we are a far cry away from it as yet.
     “Of course the world is still not an ideal place and with many a lockdown still in place, we can only keep our fingers crossed going ahead,” Keshav Tanna concluded.

Control Towers Above All

Jan Krems     “To date we are proud to have flown approximately 10 million doses and are more committed than ever to providing reliable air cargo options for critical shipments,” declared Jan Krems, President United Cargo.
     “At United, we believe the wide distribution of a vaccine is the key to reopening global economies and are proud to play our part in that process.
     “The creation of a company-wide COVID Vaccine Readiness Task Force here has resulted in our ability to implement special handling procedures, a special handling code, visibility throughout the entire enterprise, and increased dry ice limitations – all handled by United’s dedicated Vaccine Control Tower.
     “Working with our customers enhances our ability to react quickly to demand.
     “The entire supply chain needs to work together to help save lives and bring this health crisis to an end,” Jan Krems concluded.

Atlanta From The Ground up

     Where Do Airports Land In All Of This?
     “"Not enough vaccines, now," is the phrase that comes to mind,” Elliott Paige, Airport Director, Air Service Development at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport told FlyingTypers.
     “This is not surprising as we are requiring a ramp-up of a complex supply chain project in pharmaceutical to be able to satisfy close to 7.8 billion people since this is a global pandemic.
     “Everyone in the cargo logistics sector that I have engaged with is doing all they can to make sure vaccine shipments move securely and fast.
     “Most are the integrators since they have closed-loop systems for track and trace plus control of every transport segment from the supplier all the way to the medical practitioner holding the syringe to your arm.
     “We have been able to keep functioning while keeping staff safe in the logistics sector.
     “I believe that distribution is working and will improve as more vaccines become available.
     “The authorization of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose, COVID-19 vaccine is great news.
     “It's valuable, especially to countries in the Global South that need a vaccine that does not require storage in ultracold temperatures.
     “It makes it easier to get more people globally vaccinated and pushes us to herd immunity.
     “There is no other way to solve COVID-19, other than a global approach.”

The Long Strange Journey 2020-21

     “ATL had a reasonably good year in 2020 for cargo,” Elliott said.
     “We were down only 6.27% taking us to 639,276 metric tons.
     “In May 2020, we were expecting a 20% fall in cargo, so we are ecstatic with the demand for air cargo service in Atlanta.
     “Capacity is catching up so much we are seeing a surge of flights in January and February 2021.
     “We are juggling space, but doing our best to accommodate anyone who wants to fly into ATL.
     “Here are some points in terms of the outlook for ATL:
     •  E-commerce will continue to grow in leaps and bounds as online orders penetrate deeper as people in lockdowns order from home.
     •  ATL will continue to see an increase in PPE shipments, including from passenger planes flying cargo in the belly of planes and also on seats.
     •  Airlines like DL are shedding older widebodies like 767s to reduce the cost of assets, with many being purchased by Amazon Air as they expand service.
     •  Additional flights will provide more employment, 75 people more per flight, which means we are having a greater positive economic impact on our community.”

What Worked & What Didn’t?

     “From my answer above, we see that cargo volumes went well.
     “Maybe too well.
     “We have an RFP out now for a Modern Air Cargo Terminal to be able to handle e-commerce, perishables including pharmaceuticals, live animals, plus servicing our regional industries like aerospace, and automotive sectors.
     “We extended the deadline for responses to early June 2021.
     “I wish we had put that RFP on the road five years ago. Perhaps by now, we would have had some space to accommodate the large demand for cargo ground handling service that we are receiving these days,” Elliott said.

Beware The Paperwork Jungle

     “Cargo is one of the few sectors that still likes to hang on to paper,” Elliott said exhaling.
     “It's the one industry that still wants to do things the old fashion way, despite the availability of technology.
     “This attitude towards modernizing must change.
     “If Atlanta Airport and other major airports had implemented complete Airport Cargo Community Systems in 2019 when we launched, we would be in a much better place in terms of efficiency.
     “I would worry less about our ability to handle the sharp growth of cargo we have seen in the last few months.
     “All stakeholders must stop making excuses and adopt digital cargo.
     “Besides, we will have no choice in a few months because of TSA's implementation of the requirement for 100% screening of air shipments on all-cargo aircraft.
     “The deadline is June 30 as issued by members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
     “The best solution to achieve this is through implementing digital cargo technology like Airport Cargo Community System,” Elliott Paige concluded.

Know Your Priorities

     So with thanks to this diverse and interesting group of transportation leaders, who despite their focus elsewhere 24/7, took time to share their experiences and outlook, we close by going back to our WOXOF reference at the top here.
     WOXOF has an opposite.
     The letters CAVU signify “Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited”.
     Both aviation terms apply to our current situation in air cargo and maybe even can point the way ahead because each can also be viewed here to define priorities.
     Right now air cargo is positioned to make some decisions about where we will land in the future.

Stand & Deliver

     The endless stream of information that we are bombarded with 24/7 must be sifted through carefully.
     Organized cargo like IATA, FIATA and the rest, including those companies and enterprises that organize trade shows, webinars, podcasts and bow tie award parties should also come forward and deliver some meaningful platforms for dialogue that truly advance air cargo.
     We cannot afford to miss this opportunity during a time unlike any other, when air cargo is indeed sitting on top of the world.
     Let’s not allow ourselves to get stuck in a situation that is either WOXOF or CAVU.
     Let’s build with the purpose of creating a predictable environment in all of air cargo so we can prosper in a vital, important industry that the world now recognizes as the way to ship from now on.

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If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
Access complete issue by clicking on issue icon or
Access specific articles by clicking on article title
Vol. 20 No. 7
Basil Brings the Rainbow to FIATA
Chuckles for February 23, 2021
Where Nights Are Brighter Than Day
The Wings Of Man

Vol. 20 No. 8
Charlie In a Box
Chuckles for March 2, 2021
Regulating U.S. Skies
Wings Of Hope
Voyage of Discovery
In Memoriam

Vol. 20 No. 9
Let's all choose to Challenge
Chuckles for March 8, 2021
Where a Woman leads Air Cargo

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend

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