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Ukraine Red Cross
   Vol. 22 No. 31
Saturday September 16, 2023

Jacques Nijankin

     Isaac Nijankin, best known around the world as an industry builder and the visible face of Varig Cargo for more than 37 years died Friday evening peacefully at home in Long Island, New York surrounded by family including his wife Monique, his two boys David and Jacques and their families. He was 82.

Isaac, Monique, David and Jacques Nijankin

     On hearing the news, Ram Menen said, “It is very sad to hear that our old friend Isaac Nijankin has passed on. He was a great guy and a good friend. I have fond memories of his active participation and support during the early days of the formation of TIACA. Our thoughts and prayers are with Monique, Jacques and his near dear. May the good Lord bless his soul and may his soul rest in peace.”
     Isaac was always there during the critical formative years of modern cargo and the early 21st Century, during the time when the most important organizations that built air cargo and came up with processes and trained in those procedures also helped to establish the special can-do attitude of air cargo people everywhere, as most recently evidenced in the global COVID vaccine airlifts that took hold and not only saved lives, but also kept the airline companies going as well.
     Isaac was part of that special group of executives who led the way forward in the 80s and 90s at almost every major air cargo organization including CNS IATA and the group that re-formed The International Air Cargo Association, (TIACA).
     Why Isaac mattered is that he served by example at a time when the air cargo industry was in its developmental and seminal stage.
     Some years after retiring from Varig Cargo, Mr. Nijankin moved to the executive suite of El-Al Israel Airlines in New York City serving for a time as the carrier’s General Manager North America.
     Although he probably could have kicked back to his native Argentina or for that matter to Brazil, two places where his fluency in Spanish and Portuguese would have made him right at home, Isaac and his lovely wife Monique at that point were confirmed “born again” New Yorkers.
     “We love the great city, God Bless America,” Isaac said at the time.
     Isaac Nijankin began his career as part of Varig’s cargo staff at JFK International Airport. He rose through the ranks to Director of Cargo, North America and Asia.
     Isaac Nijankin received his college degree in Business Administration and Accounting at the University of Argentina in Buenos Aires.
     Isaac was not only fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian, but also had a working knowledge of French and German.
     Sometimes people are so committed to the work that they do you can’t really tell where the person leaves off and the job begins.
     Isaac Nijankin, to air cargo in general and to Varig Logistics in particular, was that kind of individual.
     Varig always did a great cargo business during the era of Isaac.
     Perhaps more telling, Isaac lasted boy and man, serving atop a major international airline for 37 years.
     Isaac kept his hand in and always kept up.
     Isaac Nijankin will always be recalled as “Mr. Air Cargo.”
     Last time we spoke he said: “Air cargo has always been a critical component to the supply chain; from its inception it has always been the "go to" solution in getting time-sensitive and time-critical shipments (i.e. vaccines and PPE, pharmaceuticals, donor organs) to their destinations, efficiently and expeditiously.
     “As companies realize the continued growth of air cargo and how it benefits the global community, we should concentrate our effort toward developing ways air cargo can better adapt to supply and demand activity.
     “Right now and into the future, air cargo should remain center stage reaping the benefit of enhanced visibility and profits for a long time to come.
     “Despite the global ordeal and the terrible suffering and loss of life, we battled through what feels to many as the perfect storm.
     “But with compassion and determination and reaching out to each other and lending a helping hand, air cargo will do what it always does as we will find a way with heart and soul to deliver,” Isaac told me.
     But having fun for Isaac was also not far from the agenda.
     Isaac had an easy, often no-holds barred booming laugh!
     Whether the pressure was on or off there was always room at the table and I loved him for that.
     Although it hurts like hell to say goodbye, let’s celebrate Isaac the way I remember him, like he lived his life.
     I think Charlie Rich was singing about Isaac in his song “Mohair Sam”. Click here.
     I hear Elvis had that song in the jukebox in the living room at Graceland. Crank up the volume as you listen.
     Rest in Peace always, dear friend.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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Vol. 22 No. 28
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Vol. 22 No. 30
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Back To School

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
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