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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 20 No. 47
Thursday December 9, 2021

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Sri Lanka Logistics& Freight Forwarders Association Board members
The Sri Lanka Logistics & Freight Forwarders Association (SLFFA) Board Members.

     The Sri Lanka Logistics & Freight Forwarders Association (SLFFA) held its 40th (Ruby) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in September marking its Ruby Anniversary or four decades of service in the logistics industry.

Why Not Sri Lanka?

     Of all the dreams that mankind ever generated, musing about the oft-repeated trifecta of location, location, location as being the key to distribution and trade success, the position of Sri Lanka in this world should have guaranteed greatness, even superiority looking at the trade maps of the world.
     I used to observe and wonder about the Sri Lankan transient workers who were helping to build the Dubai miracle in the desert that we would observe as they commuted between Dubai and Colombo with their 5 gallon jugs of water, going home for the weekend, or holiday from their labors, and wonder why the traffic and opulence wasn’t moving along with them as well?

Why Not On Par With Singapore

     But there it sits, its potential unrealized in 2021, a dream of eagles maybe, but in reality a mere shadow of a more successful Singapore.
     Fools can give you reasons but wiser folks might never try.
     Sri Lanka is the cross roads of the planet, a beautiful gem of a country in the right location.
     The country is filled with eager, bright, hard-working people, that come out of the night dressed in crisp white shirts and clothing at 0500 in the morning at the crack of dawn, as the flights begin to arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport (airport code CMB) at Katunayake serving Colombo.
     Many of the laborers are going to work in some clothing manufacturing plants operated by Benetton, J Crew, Saks Fifth Avenue and others.
     Later on the road from downtown Colombo, almost every other home is selling seconds and surplus of these famous brands, the workers having somehow managed to gather some scrap cuttings from the floors and dust bins as they try to eke out a living.
     So the wonder as we wander, is when will time finally catch up in this jewel of a place of this world?

Dinesh Sri Chandrasekara

Promises Blowing In The Wind

     SLFFA gets high marks for its zeal and the dedication of its members to get things done.
     But so far promises of government action have left airborne cargo whistling in the wind.
     That Ruby AGM encounter was also another in those absolutely established and likely to remain so Virtual Audio-Visual platforms with the participation of over 130 Members and Invitees in addition to the Ex-Co of the association using an electronic voting platform to elect Dinesh Sri Chandrasekara Chairman for 2021/2022,with Channa Gunawardena and Andre Fernando appointed as Vice Chairman and Treasurer respectively.

Good That SLFFA Does Not Give Up

     The thing about SLFFA is the “no quit” attitude of its members.
     The situation in Sri Lanka economics and politics is always challenging.
     The national airline is constantly under a microscope dating all the way back a generation or more.
     In fact, Sri Lankan Air has been hotly discussed this year with some questioning due to the COVID and other economic considerations in a squeeze play whether the government should even be funding the perennial money loser in the first place?
     Sri Lankan Airlines hasn’t made a profit since 2006 when Emirates was the partner and managing the carrier.
 Peter Hill    But then EK packed up its economic miracle road show and retreated home.
     For its part Sri Lankan Airlines in reality has only stayed afloat selling assets.
     Of course during the Emirates saga, things were not much better.
     I recall walking into the Colombo Airport offices of Sri Lankan Airlines and being greeted by Peter Hill (right) a capable, generous ex-UK saloonkeeper put in charge of the carrier by EK.
     Peter was pausing over a check he had just received from the insurance company for approximately USD$350 million after the then active Tamil Tigers blew up a couple of parked aircraft in 2003.
X-Press Pear 1     Well the Tamil Tigers are long gone but it has never been a walk in the park for the folks in Sri Lankan logistics.
     Earlier this year a cargo ship carrying chemicals and plastic pellets lay burning off the coast of Sri Lanka for nearly two weeks. That ship, the X-Press Pear l (Singapore), was carrying 1,486 containers.
     Eighty-one of those were dangerous goods containers, including 25 tons of nitric acid.
The devastation to animal life was horrible as the ship finally sank.

SLFFA DG Meeting December 15

Sri Lankan Freight Forwarders meeting     Later this month on December 14-18 SLFFA will conduct four days of Dangerous Goods Regulations. The Initial Program is being conducted at Hotel Cinnamon Lakeside.
     SLFFA, taking a lead here, said that it intends to continue in 2022 to conduct DGR Programs, twice a year.
     The Sri Lanka Logistics & Freight Forwarders Association was established in 1981 with the objective of bringing all freight forwarders under one umbrella.
     Today everyone involved in any aspect of the shipping and moving of cargo recognizes SLFFA as the apex body representing the industry.
     SLFFA is not really a giant organization but it makes up for size by punching way above its weight.
     With 115 leading freight forwarding companies in its membership, SLFFA is a member of the regional freight forwarding body Federation of Asia Pacific Air Cargo Associations (FAPAA) and FIATA.
     SLFFA is also an affiliate member of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Like No Other Time

     An overview capturing some hopes and dreams ahead here from Dinesh Sri Chandrasekara, the 20th Chairman of SLFFA.
     “The lifestyle changes and uncertainties thrown our way by the pandemic have brought logistics and freight forwarding to the forefront.
     “Many of the activities that we undertook silently for over decades have suddenly taken center stage and we as logisticians stand tall amidst quarantine curfews and lockdowns.
     “Our members have worked tirelessly without giving excuses to keep the dynamics of trade alive.
     “Those from our trade were among the first to adapt to the new world order and have continued to proactively meet changing demands.
     “So it was indeed a fitting tribute to have the government dedicate the 16th of August this past summer as National Logistics Day and having inaugurated it during these times makes it all the more special.”

Critical Time In History

     “Our industry is at a critical juncture. These are indeed volatile times.
     “The first quarter of the last financial year here, was the worst-hit, with business at it’s lowest. Come second and third quarters, business volumes improved; yet, imbalances within the shipping industry continued, leading to significant mismatches in demand and supply of capacity, and record-high freight costs.”

Show Me The Money

     “Working capital constraints are weighing down on our industry and the present foreign exchange crisis is further impeding business prospects.
     “The liquidity crunches across all industries spill over to freight forwarders and though this problem has been in existence for a while, at present it looms darker than ever before.
     “In order to mitigate the risks to which freight forwarders are exposed and to provide clear information on the creditworthiness of those we deal with, SLFFA is currently working with a software developer to modernize our debtor database.
     “Now is the time to focus on our nation’s hub aspirations.”

Has Sri Lanka Got What It Takes?

     “But so far, no meaningful measures have been taken despite the enthusiasm.
     “We have what it takes to make Sri Lanka a world-class hub next to Singapore and Dubai. SLFFA, along with other stakeholders can make this a reality; we should work together with our experts, industry specialists, academics and successful entrepreneurs, to create a ‘think-tank’ and formulate a roadmap to reach the hub status.”

It’s Now Or Never

     “If we stay complacent and continue to dilly-dally, we will most likely lose out to our neighbors, irrespective of our strategic location.
     “The urgency is very real, given the fast building South Indian ports.
     “For Sri Lanka it is actually now or never . . .
     “Our industry’s future lies in our hands . . . we must not forget that our industry growth was modest, if not flat, when comparing statistics from 2017 to 2019, with 2020 being even lower than that. Historically freight forwarders have found much of their revenue through imports and exports; however, the time is now ripe and we are looking at alternatives.
     “Using the domain knowledge that we possess and the specialist skills that we have, we are examining creative solutions for our customers through innovation, technology, value added services and B to C offerings, to name a few.
     “Out of the box thinking has to be the way forward rather than undercutting on price and leveraging on credit in a limited market place.”

Past & Present Is Not Our Future

     “Today, with the spotlight on the industry, amidst a new normal, we need to expand our ground to get the job done. Yet, complacency cannot be our hallmark.
     “After all, the past is to be remembered. The present is to be experienced and the future of our industry, is ours to be crafted,” Dinesh Sri Chandrasekara concluded.

Chuckles For December 9, 2021

Chicago Convention 1944

  On Tuesday this week was the 75th Anniversary of the Chicago Convention, when on December 7, 1944 world diplomats gathered in Chicago as World War II was raging, and drafted a peacetime plan for international civil aviation that was signed by 52 countries.
  The Chicago Convention meeting led to the formation of The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations group that promotes global aviation cooperation.
  December 7 is branded International Civil Aviation Day by ICAO.
  That designation created in 1944 cannot erase or dim the pain and sorrow of December 7th 1941's “Day of Infamy” attacks on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor-Hawaii that took so many lives and accelerated U.S. participation into World War II.
  So while we keep looking up, we never forget history, and the truth about it.
Here is a heartfelt salute to all, including those intrepid optimists from everywhere that gathered in Chicago in the sanctuary of the greatest country in the world, to plan ahead for aviation in peacetime.
  Today ICAO has evolved via cooperation and ingenuity to including 191 member states.
  Big and powerful ICAO has impacted to the point where air cargo actually saved the world during the COVID pandemic.
  Observing how these countries get along otherwise, ICAO by example shows everyone how to work and play well with others.
  What else has happened during December, includes a couple of brothers named Wright launching what is generally regarded as the flight that began it all on December 17, 1903.
  Add to all of this are the comings and goings of airlines to remember in December, mostly that came and went.
  LOT Polish Airlines Polish (still flying) was founded December 29, 1928 by combining Aerolot (1922) and Aero (1925).
  Cruzeiro do Sul Brazil began December 1,1927 as Syndicato Condor; Name changed to Cruzeiro do Sul in 1943; Merged with VARIG in 1993. (Remind me to check in with Isaac Nijankin and ask him if he has spotted any VRG airplanes recently)
  Pan American World Airways ceased to exist December 1, 1991, taken down by the 1978 Deregulation and bankrupt in 1991.
  Pacific Air Transport on December 17, 1928, merged into Boeing Air Transport, (United Airlines) but continued to operate as a separate division until 1934.
  West Australian Airways founded December 5, 1921. Became part of Australian National Airways.
  Société des lignes Latécoère Services started December 25, 1918; rebranded as Aéropostale in 1927; assets were incorporated into Air France in 1933.
  German Empire Deutsche Luft-Reederei founded in December 1917. Became part of Deutscher Aero Lloyd in 1923, merged into Deutsche Lufthansa in 1926.   Founding member of International Air Traffic Association in 1919, today's International Air Transport Association (IATA).
  Hungary Aero Rt. Established December 22, 1910 Merged with Magyar Aeroforgalmi Rt (MAEFORT).

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Jerry Trimboli—A Slugger Without A Bat

DP World Containers

  These are strange times indeed, when newspaper and other media front pages feature pictures of container ports with stacks of shipping containers and when the stories talk about the logistical challenges of managing these devices. Considering that these devices have been sitting in the background for the best part of 50 years, one can only wonder at their sudden rise to notoriety.
  Or maybe not, as whether one looks at the ocean shipping industry or the air cargo industry, the reality is that the management of these essential tools of the trade have been an accident waiting to happen for years, with under resourced and understaffed facilities and chasing dollars, keeping fingers crossed that the wheels will not fall off the bus.
  Well, on the ocean side, it appears the wheels have well and truly fallen off, one can only wonder how much worse it will get if the politicians try to get into the mix. On the air side, things are perhaps not quite so high profile but nevertheless it’s not a pretty sight; for the past 18 months airlines have been struggling to reposition empty units given their lower priority than revenue cargo on the limited number of available flights, and in many cases have had to turn to simply purchasing additional equipment to compensate for their assets being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It has actually been a golden 18 months for both manufacturers and the rental companies, with no sign of that changing anytime soon, as they respond to this mess.
  So what are the lessons to be learnt from this situation? It would be fair to say that taking ‘the head in the sand’ approach to managing these transportation assets whether they be for ocean shipping or airfreight will work some of the time but it absolutely will not work all of the time and when push comes to shove, the cracks will start to show very, very quickly. Perhaps, though I’m not very optimistic, in the aftermath of the current situation, greater attention will get paid to the manner in which transportation assets are treated! One can only hope.
Bob Rogers, Vice President & Treasurer

Truck Congestion

  Winston Thomas MBE, Manager and Owner of Pembrey West Wales Airport looked out his window the other day and observed:
  “Due to the situation with the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, shipment of goods to and from Europe has truck queues exceeding 17 miles long each day.
  “We have the room and are now now looking for an investor to complete the second phase of the development of establishing an Air Cargo facility at Pembrey Airport.
  “Pembrey Airport is the primary airport for the rapidly growing West Wales region of the United Kingdom and is one of the only airports in the United Kingdom with 4,000 acres of development land with the main railway line direct to London Paddington.”
  For more info. click here, or contact Winston here.

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Dees Christmas Trees

     For most every soldier stationed overseas, no matter how hardened, waking up during Christmastide and finding yourself so very far from home is always a rough assignment, and short of war, the toughest duty.
     For the past 18 years Dees Nursery & Florist Inc, a plant and flower nursery, and old-time family business, located just off the main runways at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Oceanside, New York has made a mostly overlooked effort to bring holiday cheer in the form of the live simple Christmas tree to U.S. troops stationed in far flung outposts around the world.
     Dees' spends most of the year selling plants and trees and lawn care products to people from all over the metropolitan area.
     So on Monday December 6 came the once-a-year event as Dees' chopped down several hundred Christmas trees from its big farm in Maine and, in partnership with DHL, sent those trees free of charge to our U.S. troops.
     During the 18 years of Christmas Trees For Troops, perhaps the most touching and poignant part of all of this has been the involvement of local school children that create cards and ornaments to put on the trees.
Christmas trees, cards and ornaments . . . simple expressions of love and caring for our troops in 2021 in places including Iraq and Kuwait.
     The Christmas Trees for Troops initiative was launched in December 2004 after a woman at Dees' Nursery inquired about how to ship a Christmas tree to her son in Iraq.
Tom DiDominica      Today as Christmas approaches and Santa travels alongside the trees out to the cargo area at JFK International Airport, we had the opportunity to speak to Joseph DiDominica and Tom DiDominica, (right) the proprietors of Dees' nursery. We asked the brothers just how long will they continue to ship these trees?
     “What we do here feels good, especially involving the younger generation," Tom said.
     “If it feels good, it is good,” Joe added.
     “We will continue to provide these trees until the soldiers get home,” the brothers said.
     “That is the least we can do to support our troops.”
     Business is business, but these brothers and their partners, including big powerful DHL and scores of our next generation of school kids' concern and love bring home the real meaning of Christmas and make the Yuletide bright.
     Dees' is located at: 69 Atlantic Avenue, Oceanside, NY 11572. (516) 678-3535.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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Access specific articles by clicking on article title
Vol. 20 No. 44
Air Cargo In A Crystal Ball
Chuckles for November 17, 2021
Child Is The Father Of Man
Gentleman Dave Sharma
Return Of Icarus

Vol. 20 No. 45
An Old Hand & New Horizons for Dangerous Goods
FIFA World Cup Doha Next Year
Chuckles for November 22, 2021
Getting To Know You
Air Cargo Is Everybody's Santa
Celebrating Beaujolais Noveau
Going Home & Giving Thanks

Vol. 20 No. 46
When A Gram Counts for A Million Tons
Trimboli A Slugger Without A Bat
Chrismas 2026
Chuckles for December 6, 2021
We Love These Dear Hearts
You Got To Have Heart

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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