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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 19 No. 63
Monday September 21, 2020
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Ethel Pattison and Paul McCartney

On September 25, 2020, Ethel Lund Pattison will retire.
     Let me state matter-of-factly that we will not see anyone quite like her again.
     Her retirement won’t be accompanied by the multi-million dollar rewards bestowed upon pampered airline executives for the accomplishment of losing billions of dollars.
     So let us resolve that at least her retirement will garner the respectful attention that Ethel deserves.

A Very Special Lady

     What makes this retirement so special? I’m glad I asked.
     In January 2006, Los Angeles’s Board of Airport Commissioners named a rose garden adjacent to the Clifton A. Moore Administration Building (the old ATC tower) at LAX in honor of Ethel.
     The occasion was to mark Ethel’s 50th anniversary of service at LAX and was the most years of service of any active employee of the airport department. That was 14 years ago!
     Pattison joined the Department of Airports’ public relations staff in January 1956 to launch the LAX Tour and Education Program for local school students and service organizations. Ethel was promoted to the position of chief airport tour guide in 1961.

Ethel Today Is 94

     The 94 years-young Ethel Pattison has now accumulated 64 years of service at LAX.      To provide historical perspective, Ethel had already worked at LAX for almost four years when she saw Nikita Khrushchev arrive ahead of his Camp David meetings with then-President Eisenhower in late September 1959.

A Brief Encounter

     I met Ethel in February 2016 while researching a piece I would write for FlyingTypers on the Beatles’ arrival at LAX at the beginning of their first major U.S. tour in September 1964. I had visited LAX’s Flight Path Museum several times and knew it contained a trove of photos and historical documents, so hoped to source material for my article there.
     I felt optimistic when I secured a meeting with a woman whose title was Airport Information Specialist.
     I immediately felt even better when I saw that she already had several black & white photos of the Beatles’ arrival on the wall next to her desk.
     I felt celebratory when she identified herself as the woman walking behind a young Paul McCartney in one of the photos. I was not just meeting someone who could provide documents about the Beatles’ arrival. I was meeting someone who rode in a decoy limousine used to divert fans from the limo actually carrying the Beatles.
     To this Beatlemaniac, it felt like meeting an extra who’d had a speaking role in A Hard Days Night. For that story, click here.
     My southern mother instilled that a gentleman never asks a lady her age. I would not have guessed that the ebullient woman I met had already circled the sun 90 times by then. Ethel knew precisely where all materials were and generously shared copies with me but in our discussions, she needed no notes. Her recall was richly detailed and aligned perfectly with reports completed by airport operations and marketing staff in 1964.
     As we walked, Ethel provided first-hand accounts of many more celebrities and politicians whose arrivals are captured in photographs lining the Museum’s walls. How many airports saw more celebrities than LAX during those years?!! The conversation never lapsed.

Ethel Began At United Airlines

     If somehow anyone in our industry is still unimpressed by the singularity of Ethel’s career, let me add that Ethel’s career in aviation did not begin with her 64 years at LAX.      Ethel’s aviation career began as a flight attendant for United Airlines and she has served as past national and Los Angeles chapter president of Clipped Wings, the UA flight attendant alumni organization.
     In a 2018 interview for an article in The Telegraph, Pattison recounted graduating from USC (the University of Southern California) where Pattison met a sorority sister who had already become a “stewardess” for United. Pattison was accepted and entered United’s training program in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1951.

Ruled Out Because of Marriage

     Pattison’s flight attendant career ended when she married. A 1966 New York Times classified ad for stewardesses at Eastern Airlines stipulated the following requirement: “single (widows and divorcees with no children considered)”. Pattison observed the following in The Telegraph article: “The flight attendants these days are very good at what they do. And they stay a long time – because they can, and they aren’t discriminated against, as I was. If you’re young nowadays, you can’t imagine someone telling you to stop doing your job because you’re getting married.”

Always For The Love of Flight

     Adding Pattison’s United stint, Ethel’s retirement comes nearly 70 years after she began her air transportation-related career. I am grateful that at least a few hours in those years were made available to me. I have met numerous airline executives, airport directors and powerful politicians. Many were only memorable because of the power represented by their positions. Ethel Pattison stands out because of the substance of her character and the herculean feat of maintaing an abundance of enthusiasm for this industry after so many decades. Bon voyage, Ethel. I am so glad to have met you.
Michael Webber

If you would like to send Ethel a congratulatory message please click here.

Michael WebberEditor's Note:  Many were surprised 3 years ago when Austin, TX-based Mike Webber closed his successful 16-year-old cargo consulting practice to join global behemoth Landrum & Brown (L&B, owned by DAR Group).
     Webber always struck us as too independent for such a setting but was obviously proud of the cargo team he’d established at L&B, so we were surprised again when Webber announced his departure from L&B in May 2020.
     Webber’s moves were closely tracked by former clients and by airport consulting firms far more comfortable partnering with a niche cargo planner, so Webber is busy again. Webber observes that the ongoing pandemic has complicated his methodology at the expense of on-site interviews and that pandemic responses are part of every conversation. Still, demand for his services has not been diminished but rather has grown with an almost even mix of international and domestic projects.
     Based in one of America's greatest music towns, Webber is also managing music talent and helping to produce a documentary about a 1970s Southern California Punk Rock band. On several occasions, FT readers have had the opportunity to enjoy his writing on music-related topics - the Beatles' arrivals at JFK and LAX, as well as trips through his beloved former hometowns Kansas City and New Orleans. Webber's spare time at conferences finds him hunting rare vinyl records and hanging out in live music clubs.

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U.S. China Transformation

Chaitaly Mehta Is Outstanding

Chaitaly Mehta

A logistics professional with over 22 years of experience, Mumbai-based Chaitaly Mehta is the first woman in the family business – a third generation customs broker and a second generation freight forwarder who is at the helm of operations in her family-owned business, EKF Global Logistics (formerly Express Kargo Forwarders Private Limited).
     Her ability as a natural problem solver and keen observer has allowed her to quickly learn the tricks of the trade and carve out a niche for herself in this dynamic sector. Armed with a law degree, Mehta is sought out amongst her peers for her ability to objectively look at situations and provide valuable advice.
     She states that logistics is a simple word but with a complex connotation - it has so many branches that interconnect, overlay, yet is a strong invisible thread that ties the world economy together like what she describes as “Spiderman’s Web”!
     Mehta firmly believes that the work she and her team do, make the cogs in the wheels of World Economy go around and this, she says, is a great thrill:  “We actually make a difference in people’s lives, albeit indirectly - and it is this thought that makes me love my work and inspires me to work harder.”

Do you see the worldwide acclaim for cargo as a positive for the future of the business?

CM:  I have always believed that the cargo and logistics industries have never gotten the recognition they deserve. Cargo has always been short-changed compared to the pax because cargo occupies the belly of the aircraft and is the last priority after passengers’ baggage, courier, newspapers and human remains!
     This pandemic, however, has finally brought to light the importance and essence of the logistics industry and cargo itself. Whilst everyone was at home protecting themselves, it was us in the industry who were the frontline players ensuring that all the pharma meds, PPE kits and other essential items crucial to the COVID 19 recovery - were moved on time: Customs cleared, uplifted by the airlines, transported and delivered.
     The airlines, the airport custodians like Mumbai International Airport, Indian Customs, the transporters, Customs brokers, freight forwarders and labourers all rallied together without any thought to their personal lives and ensured all critical equipment and pharmaceuticals were delivered.
     The only cargo moving for the first three months of the pandemic were from the pharma industry and despite the breakdown in the transport sector, (for example, the mass exodus of drivers leaving their vehicles to flee to their villages at the peak of the pandemic thereby creating a chaos never before seen) the industry persevered. The customs brokers and the freight forwarders did everything humanly possible to ensure that the cargo reached their final destination.
     My company prioritized the safety of our staff and closed for a month. Thereafter we re-opened with all safety provisions. Since public transport was not available, we had and still continue to have private pickup for our staff who live far away and can’t use public transport. For our Mumbai staffers with small kids we didn’t call them to work for a couple of months. We sanitize twice a day at work and safety measures have been put in place so that those who come to work are protected to the best of our ability.
     To me, logistics is the backbone of the economy and every single vertical is important in international and domestic transportation, from labourers to forklifts and I could go on and on. The logistics industry is akin to the spinal cord of a human body. The different verticals are like the discs in the spine/vertebra and both are undervalued, taken for granted and invisible, until something goes wrong.

Chaitaly Mehta

How can air cargo best cope with the need for the effective delivery of vaccine when the antidote comes?

CM:  The air cargo industry has been dealing with the shipping of vaccines much before the average person realized the importance of a “vaccine”. The airlines, the custodians, the Customs, the freight forwarders and customs brokers are already handling huge volumes of vaccines and the infrastructure is pretty good right now. India is one of the biggest exporters of pharma in the world. However, having said that, due to COVID-19, the airlines had raised their rates so high that shipping at that cost was not practical but yet had to be done because of necessity.
     We expect that the COVID-19 vaccine will be ready soon; it would be prudent for the airlines to have air freight rates which are more in line with pre-Covid times, and instead of taking undue advantage of the circumstances, the priority should be to ensure that everyone gets the vaccine so we can finally be done with this challenging time and advance from the pandemic-hit global situation.
     The pharma companies should already be in talks with the players as in the airlines, custodians, logistics companies like ours and come up with best practices on how to deliver the vaccines efficiently. Right now, we have only a few airlines operating, but once the vaccines are ready to be shipped, all the airlines will have to restart because leaving only a few to handle the entire movement from different manufacturers could create a cartel-like situation. Capacity has to be increased because if there is no capacity, then space would go to the highest payer of freight and it would not be good for the consumers.
     The Customs, on their part, will have to ensure that they have officers available in full strength at all airports, and more importantly, that their systems are functioning optimally because their systems have in the past let-down many-a-time, resulting in increased dwell time. Since Customs is working 24x7, they are already equipped but just need to make sure all their office positions are occupied and prepared.
     For the custodians of air cargo complexes, they need to make sure that they have the space available to store the vaccines, their infrastructure is up to date, they have no labour challenges and their teams can handle the intense pressure that is going to be created. The atmosphere is going to be electric, and every person in the entire supply chain should and would feel proud of their successful contribution to save the world.
     I firmly believe that whilst the medical fraternity has saved millions of lives, our industry’s contribution is right up there and because of us, millions of lives were, and will continue to be saved.

As the story of 2020 unfolds, what can you share, especially perhaps a similar parallel experience during your time in the industry?

CM:  2020 is a year that a majority of the population hasn’t seen. We have had wars and famines and epidemics but never a pandemic, which literally brought the entire world to a standstill. I have been in the industry for the last 23 years and I have seen the depression of 2008 and at that time, I and my colleagues in the industry thought we may not survive, but, in fact, many of us did survive and victoriously so.
     I have personally never seen anything like this and to be honest the first month was overwhelming and I was struggling to grapple with the situation. The best practices that I have picked up from this are:
            Technology is our friend and we have to embrace it.
            Going forward, freight forwarders and customs brokers need to make sure they are equipped with the latest technology, so if there is a second wave, all the lessons learned should be remembered, incorporated and set into practice for smooth operations.
            Mobility is the key and it is important that at least 40 percent of your staff come from nearby areas so that in such kind of situations they can hold the fort if their colleagues who live far away can’t make it.
            Be positive and look at opportunities. Thinking of the negatives alone will suck you like nothing ever.
            Take the time to complete incomplete or pending projects, reconnect with your staff, vendors, clients and partners. It helps you and helps them.
            Collaborations are the key to survival and longevity, so actively go looking for possible ways of collaboration.
            Maintaining a healthy bank balance is the most important because if one does not have the cash, the company won’t survive.
            Invest in training of your staff because it would pay off in such situations.
            Talk frankly and openly with your staff and team members. They need assurance from you, but also the truth. Don’t paint a very grim picture but don’t give false hopes, too.
            Cost cutting doesn’t only mean firing staff, it also means reevaluating your expenditure style and reducing or getting rid of the money-guzzlers.
            Most importantly, never give up and don’t forget your journey. Since you didn’t quit when others would have expected, don’t do so now. It is the survival of the fittest but your mental game will keep you at the top, so be very strong mentally.

Can you share a favorite story from air cargo? How has the industry ramped up its services to serve during the pandemic that is outstanding when you think about your experience?

CM:  My favourite story: One of our verticals is aviation and I am very proud to say that what we do for the aviation in toto, no one else does. Others do bits and pieces, but not the whole thing. In fact, I am the only woman in India handling this vertical including helicopters and, therefore, in some circles I am called The Helicopter Lady.
     I am a third-generation Customs Broker and a second-generation freight forwarder. I am the first woman in the air cargo industry in India at my level i.e. management and also actively handling operations and field work, doing things no other woman was doing at that time.
     The aviation vertical was started by me out of sheer desperation to survive as I didn’t want to be labelled a quitter. In doing so, we broke a 40-year-old monopoly and today, we are now the biggest company in India handling this sector. Companies say they handle airlines and have aviation as a vertical but we actually do the real thing. So, yes, I am really proud of my team and myself when I look back and see how far we have come today.
     This industry, especially in India is heavily dependent on people even though we are now technologically-equipped and a lot of work is done through systems. But, it is people who run these systems. I am talking from India’s perspective now: we never imagined work-from-home was possible for us and yet we have done it.
     In the last five months companies have made major investments in technology, as have we, and now we can comfortably say we can work at least 60 percent from home, which is one of the biggest achievements for us.
     The Multinationals have always had their systems and Indian companies were getting there slowly. However, this COVID 19 situation has quickened our pace. All the stakeholders worked together as a team to achieve the mammoth task of transporting cargo despite the many issues and problems.
     Logistics companies have spent money in not only upgrading and ramping up their systems but also in making offices safe for their staff to work in. Many of us have spent more money on conveyance in bringing our staff to work with public transport not working or in limited capacity, that our P&L has become lopsided. The cost has hurt but we were there, we were making a difference, irrespective of the hardships.
     Personally, I have never felt more proud of my team, my vendors, my partners—the airlines, the customs or the custodian, the shipping lines and various other stakeholders because we all stood strong and persevered.
      We may not make profits in 2020 and our balance sheets may not look good or be in the red, but we survived and in turn helped others survive.
Buffy Sainte Marie Up Where We Belong

chuckles for September 21, 2020

Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin
  The old phrase “you can never go home again” can be applied to the recent growing separation between the U.S. and China.
  There is no doubt, however, that China is tied into the world economy and there is no turning back.
  A quick look at China courtesy of a satellite shows a country obliterated by pollution, driven by clogged roads and factories puffing away, which prove that the business engine is back and goods are going somewhere as we approach the Christmas rush.
  Now that China has ended “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong, a 2020 reality check is in order.
  While business awaits, the mass of goods flows unabated, but as lines between the U.S. and China harden, the way forward in trade remains cloudy.

How To Do Business

  Looking away from the facts while engaging and playing nice with China is over for the U.S. and some countries. So now it’s about how we do business between the world and China in a way that will appease both sides.
  Assume that pro-engagement has to be the way to move ahead with free movement of capital, labor, goods, and services.
  How do we appease both western and eastern agendas?
  The United States' recently announced moves to restrict China’s engagement in U.S. universities and student exchange coupled with a growing list of trade tariffs stifle the idea that by exposing a large swath of smart, upwardly mobile Chinese people to the value proposition of a western education and free trade, we accelerate change in thinking.
  The universities and professors who are reaping the benefits of tuitions and mobile teaching assignments are the money, but should that be the only criteria?

New Reality

  I guess the point here is that there is a new reality at work, and in the U.S. at least (minus the mixed messages from politicians and the media during a furious presidential campaign that thankfully will be over November 3 and maybe even a vaccine for COVID-19), this long strange journey of 2020 will finally appear in the rearview mirror.
  “Engagement with China is no longer at any cost. Now it’s about reframing into what type of engagement we should have moving ahead,” said Fulbright Professor Christopher Balding.

Looking Back & Ahead

  It is now 75 years since February 1945 and the historic Yalta Conference between Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin. The historic meeting took place in an old Imperial Russian hotel that served as German officer barracks in WW II.
  According to reports, the Livadia Palace venue was a wreck, with furniture scrounged from hotels in Moscow and toilets that did not work, causing top diplomats and generals to queue up in the mornings to wash up and brush their teeth.
  History has not been too kind to the Yalta conference, which has been characterized as the week when the superpowers met and divided Europe into two blocks.
  To some, even today the word “Yalta” is a synonym for surrender.
  But recently some smart people including historian David Reynolds have come around to the thinking that WW II divided Europe, not the conference table.

The Connection

  Looking a bit deeper into Yalta with 75 years of hindsight, what is generally agreed upon is that the meeting did serve as an attempt to approach how you deal with a regime that you dislike but have to live beside.
  That is as much a challenge in a world that has seen the rise of China, Xi Jinping, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as it was in the days of Joseph Stalin.
  As we think of Yalta and China, we might heed the words once spoken by the English historian and lawyer F.W. Maitland:
  “We must remember that events in the past were once in the future.”

Geoffrey on transporting vaccine

newsletter graphicRE: Ancher Handicaps Cargo Futures

Hi Geoffrey,

     I trust you are keeping well, anyway I see that FlyingTypers is coming out on schedule week after week.
     The comments by Jacques Ancher in the recent issue rang a bell for me,
as if there is one area which has stood absolutely still for 40+ years it's been the manner in which the transfer of custody of ULD is handled, despite the contribution that ULD make to Air Cargo Handling the processes by which the transfer from one party to the next in the supply chain remains firmly in the paper-and-pencil era, absolutely ridiculous.

     “More than 40 years of trying and yet there is still the backlog in automation.
     “The shifts in global production with 3D printers, the Italian accessories, etc.
     “Our clients and competition have left us and travelled out of sight. Apple, Amazon, AliExpress.
     “For the next ten years, I believe, the strategy is operating jointly as one entity: passenger and cargo working together in concert to optimize revenue and costs.                                       
                                                                         Jacques Ancher

     ULD CARE is not sitting still in this regard, and we are just a couple of weeks away from the switch on of our Proof of Concept Blockchain based Interline ULD User Group ( IULDUG) System which enables airlines to keep track of the ULD assets when they transfer between airlines in the process of interlining. About 12 months ago we entered into an agreement with SITA to migrate this quite elderly system to a blockchain platform and it's very very exciting to know that very shortly the POC will be running.
     Once the technical aspects have been proven we will then be able to explore the opportunities to create a global platform for tracking and monitoring all ULD transfers of custody regardless of the different parties, which will be a gigantic leap forward.
     We will be in touch.

Bob Rogers

Vice President & Treasurer

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Vol. 19 No. 60
True Confessions of a Freight Forwarder
Chuckles for August 31, 2020

Vol. 19 No. 61
Time & The River
Chuckles for September 5, 2020
Air Cargo Took off above the Himalayas
Why FlyingTypers

Vol. 19 No. 62
Trust and the Market
Chuckles for September 14, 2020
Street Smart Cargo Show
The Indispensible Sherpas
Cargo on Fire Worldwide
Harold Hagans Lit the Sky above Atlanta

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