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   Vol. 23 No. 16

Wednesday April 10, 2024


Greg Schwendinger

     Greg Schwendinger is President of American Airlines Cargo, where he oversees one of the largest air cargo networks in the world. Greg re-joined American in fall 2022 after leading the Finance team at health services provider AccentCare during a period of transformation and growth, but he had already spent 15 years in American Airlines previously after his MBA at Rice University.
     Greg is currently an elected member of the International Air Transport Association Cargo Advisory Council, where he serves as an advisor to governing bodies on all air cargo industry issues. As a young and accomplished personality, Greg does not limit himself to his business, but is also an active member of the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association, which helps maintain access to more than 200 miles of recreational biking and hiking trails in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

     Considering American Airlines’ role in the greatest logistics operation of all times, i.e. the deployment of COVID vaccines all over the world, it was quite natural that this was the starting point in our conversation with Greg. Greg was happy to share his views on this point: “Participating in the Covid-19 vaccine distribution on behalf of the U.S. Government as part of Operation Warp Speed was significant. To play a part in something so critical at a time when there was so much unknown will go down in history for us. The team did a great job stepping up, as did the industry, during that particular time of need to ensure people were connected as quickly as possible with pharmaceuticals that could save lives. Launching the cargo-only flying program is also something our team members look back on fondly. Not only did it allow us to continue to move critical shipments across the world during the early part of the network, but the program also provided the foundation for American to restart passenger service to a number of key markets. The initiative required a huge amount of collaboration across the entire airline, which has only helped us work better together since then.
     “COVID absolutely helped bring to light the importance of the air cargo industry. Within the airline, that recognition has been positive, and Cargo certainly has an increased focus and influence on the business as a result. From a customer perspective, we feel confident in the relationships we have built and are always looking for ways to strengthen them. Whether through product enhancements, shipping experience, technology opportunities, you name it, we are open to hearing how we can provide better solutions and ultimately serve our customers even more.”
     FT expressed its appreciation for the airline’s image and the unforgettable contribution to the mission. Greg’s willingness to share his experience in those crucial months inevitably led us to talk about his role in the company on a variety of topics: “We are excited for the road that lies ahead in 2024 for many reasons, but one in particular is due to the moderation and stabilization we began to see in the marketplace in late 2023. I was proud of how we closed out the year, particularly around the holiday peak, and am pleased to see economies getting inflation under control – which should lead to easing monetary policy and the possibility for increased consumer demand in many of the regions where we operate. I am optimistic about 2024, both here in American and for the cargo industry as a whole.”
     From this statement we can easily connect Greg’s full appreciation of finance’s importance, which is in line with his experience and education, but we can also understand that his perception of the industry comes from a very deep hands-on approach: “The industry is well on its way, but there is still work to do in terms of modernization through technology. Wherever we can more seamlessly work together and communicate along the supply chain, the better, and digitization is a big piece of that. I am encouraged by the efforts IATA is taking to lead the industry in adoption of ONE Record as a standard for data sharing to create a single record view of a shipment, and American looks forward to playing a leading role in pushing forward this standard as well.”
     Definitely right, we could say, and if we can add a personal comment, it is noteworthy that this push toward greater harmonization comes directly from an airline. We all know embracing common standards has not been the aspect of business where airlines traditionally excelled.

     Greg continued his conversation mentioning the technology that needs to be adopted for the industry to thrive: “While I can’t predict the future, I can say our teams are dedicated to some really impactful projects this year. Operational excellence and Customer Experience are at the core of our priorities in 2024, and a lot of that work will be supported by digital tools and enhancements to our existing digital platforms. Things like Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and Machine Learning are enabling our teams to be more efficient and utilize predictive modeling to mitigate challenges that may arise when a shipment is in our care. For example, we are able to use RPA to automatically accept bookings that fall within certain parameters at time of booking, to optimize shipments utilizing our trucking network as well as to remove resources affiliated with deactivated customer accounts. We are using Machine Learning to help us improve our capacity forecasts and reduce issues related to under and over booking. The added benefit is that we free up our team members to focus on more complex solutions.”
     In 2024 it is nearly impossible to talk technology without inviting AI and machine learning on the stage. The natural following subject was concerning AI’s impact on AA Cargo’s operations, now and in future: “Everyone is very excited about the Art of the Possible when it comes to AI technologies. We are all starting to experience the impact in our daily lives as we interact with companies and participate in various markets as consumers. We should also expect solutions to emerge in the B2B space that helps improve the customer experience, drives optimization, and ultimately unleashes an entirely new era of innovation. Most exciting is AI's ability to anticipate a customer’s needs and proactively meet those needs, but also GenAI's ability to then produce relevant content and solutions beyond the immediate ask. At American, we are certainly interested in how the technology evolves and how we can leverage these tools to deliver for customers, as well as our own team members. We have a couple of use cases GenAI lends itself to as a perfect solution that we intend to explore in 2024, and we look forward to sharing more in due time.
     AI could also play a role in the sustainability agenda. Surely sustainability is equally big in Greg’s employment equation: “I think having a plan for taking real action to improve Sustainability is crucial, and I do believe we have seen real progress. At the airline level, we have continued to invest in a dedicated team focused on helping us achieve our goal of net zero by 2025 with realistic milestones and investments along the way. For example:
       American has commitments covering more than 620 million gallons of SAF from 2025–2030. In 2022, we used more than 2.5 million gallons of SAF and were one of the few airlines to report using more than 1 million gallons during the year.
       SAF production will take the combined efforts of the private and public sectors. One way American is helping advance those efforts is as an anchor partner of Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, a groundbreaking program within the larger Breakthrough Energy network that is working to accelerate the development and commercialization of critical technologies for decarbonization, including SAF.
       As part of our goal to source 2.5 million gigajoules (GJs) of cost competitive renewable energy to power our operations by 2025, we purchased more than 644,000 GJs of electricity from renewable sources for our headquarters facilities and operations at DFW in 2022. Since then, these facilities have been 100% powered by renewable energy.
     “As part of the airline initiative, our cargo business falls under the same goals, but we also have made strides of our own – for example, our continued partnership with BioNatur Plastics (by M&G Packaging) utilizing biodegradable products in our operation. In 2023, we were able to reduce long-term plastic waste by more than 150,000 lbs, the equivalent of 8.6 million water bottles.” In a period when we discover that micro plastics are starting to clot our arteries and start presenting serious problems for our health, these are statements that we register with particular satisfaction.

     At this point it was impossible to avoid a straight question on the business, considering our sources have told us that American connects New York (JFK) and Tokyo (HND) as the only U.S. carrier operating nonstop service this summer beginning June 28, as an addition to the existing daily service from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and two daily flights from Los Angeles (LAX). Greg observed: “We are really excited about the launch of the new JFK-HND service in June! We will be offering cargo capacity on the flight and are excited about the opportunity this provides for our customers.” Even more exciting from our point of view that this does not detract from the existing capacity from other airports, which is a clear symptom that something is going in the right direction here.
     We cannot close this meeting without a couple of personal comments that we gladly received from our friend Greg: we asked him about the people he admired over the years, as we believe this is a way to open windows in different areas of human interaction that a straight business interview does not authorize. “When I was young,” said Greg “I met Muhammed Ali while flying through IAH, and at my father’s encouragement had the chance to speak with him as well as to get his autograph. I didn’t know at the time of his legacy as an Olympic and World Champion boxer nor as an activist, humanitarian and philanthropist, but the man I met that day was a patient and caring person with an undeniable aura and presence surrounding him, who was happy to spend time with my younger brother and me in the airport. In the autograph he carefully crafted for me he wrote a passage, ‘Service to others is the rent we pay for our place in heaven’. This passage has stuck with me as I learned more about the man he was as I grew up. The passage inspires me to continue to work to be the best servant leader I can be to my team, family and community just like he was to his.”
     This window is open to human and caring considerations, well in line with Greg’s approach to HR: “I’m grateful to have such a wonderful team to lead – many of our team members have been in Cargo for most of their career, and I think that’s a testament to the passion our team has for the business and to the kind of culture we have. While I was new to Cargo when I joined as President in 2022, I had worked alongside the Cargo business and many of the team members during my career with American and was able to see, even from afar, the exciting work the teams were doing. The air cargo industry plays a significant role in keeping the world connected and knowing that mission is at the core of all we do and how we serve our customers makes it that much more meaningful.”
     So, this comes to mind as a meaningful conversation with a solid, considerate personality, somebody who has taken his job seriously and – from a position of upper management – has not abandoned the idea of keeping the line of excitement constant, with a 360° engagement.
     FT is grateful to Greg Schwendinger for his time and for the inspiring comments he wished to share with us on his challenging work.

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Laura Pullins, Brendan Sullivan, Alicia Lines

Jackson Five      “I like the feeling I get when I’m riding in a jet, saying I’m going places” sang The Jackson Five in an uplifting message about air travel back when Michael was just a kid.
     Just as Cargo Network Services (CNS) Partnership Conference meets in Dallas, Texas Sunday April 14-16 at the Gaylord Resort & Convention Center in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas with what promises to be another headline-making event, Brendan Sullivan, IATA Global Head of Cargo who burst upon the air cargo scene fresh as Listerine a couple of years ago, plans to be front and center at a CNS Partnership apparently in some kind of transition these days.
     Brendan brings a welcome youthful energy package to the top IATA Cargo job and our hope is that he can put the reins on and drive a successful CNS Partnership this year being held in Cowboy Country USA.
     Today in an immaculate trimmed full beard and arguably the best hair in air cargo, Brendan may look familiar to some Americans in Spring 2024 as a younger version of a Scotsman that Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju, portrays in television advertising for Scotts grass seed and lawn products, and more power to both of them.
     But to the air cargo business worldwide, especially after the recent World Cargo Symposium broke all records for attendance and participation, Brendan Sullivan oversees the greening of an IATA cargo program from all indications, that is coming up roses.
     CNS Partnership starts off with a big golf outing on Sunday followed by a Golf Luncheon.
     Usually, the Golf is the place to be, especially the luncheon sponsored this year by Delta Cargo, just prior to the more crowded Opening Reception Sunday evening, followed by the non-stop customer meetings that the airlines usually conduct dawn to dusk thereafter, all during the three-day conference.
     We keep hearing that the future of CNS is in some question, that maybe it will be taken over by another organization in air cargo or something else might happen.
In any event, Laura Pullins, who was named CNS President in 2022 as the first Woman to hold that position, has departed the scene with Board member Alicia Lines named CNS President (ad Interim), so all eyes will be on Brendan & Brandon (Fried) and other members of the CNS Board as we all wonder what’s next for the CNS Partnership?
     With a full program, including most of the major issues of today playing to an expected audience of 700, against the backdrop of mighty Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, going places in air cargo this week is to Texas, as air cargo’s great experiment to enhance “The Partnership” between the forwarders and airlines moves inexorably toward the future.

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Celebi and Delhi Cargo Service Center

     “The operation of foreign ad hoc and pure non-scheduled freighter charter service flights shall be allowed at all international airports in India without co-terminal rights by cargo-only aircraft for three years from the date of issue of the aeronautical information circular.” That was India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issuing a notice circulated at the end of February this year.
     The decision to allow all foreign freighters to land at any international airport in India came after continued protests from the export and logistics industry. This was not the case before February 2023. In 2020, amidst Covid, restrictions had been imposed on ad-hoc freighter operations by foreign carriers which allowed them to operate only from the six major airports – Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. At that time, the restriction was aimed to boost the operations of Indian air cargo carriers.
     The DGCA amended the rule for freighter operations after it reviewed its earlier direction which limited ad hoc and non scheduled cargo flights by foreign carriers. The DGCA also made it clear that while air cargo carriers would have to meet operational and safety requirements for ad hoc non-scheduled cargo flights, scheduled cargo operations by foreign carriers would be regulated as per the bilateral air service agreements with respective countries.
     Air cargo stakeholders said that the lifting of restrictions would go a long way to achieve the 10 million tonnes of air cargo target by 2030 set by the government. The move would also encourage the entry of more cargo airlines in India.
     The relaxation by the DGCA has been welcomed by air cargo stakeholders, especially the perishable trade. Now, for example, flowers from Coimbatore for the UAE need not be trucked first to Bengaluru or Chennai. The move will also help vegetable exporters from Varanasi and Amritsar to move their shipments to Europe or the US without disruptions.
     The potential for higher tonnages of cargo from India exist as was proven when Kenya Airways introduced a B737-800 freighter to fly twice a week from Nairobi to Mumbai.
     Take the case of Ethiopian Airlines. It had been receiving pharma shipments sent out in trucks from Ahmedabad to Mumbai for flights to destinations in Europe. The new rule will allow Ethiopian to start non-scheduled freighter flights to Ahmedabad, where growing business was always a challenge since there were no Ethiopian Airlines flights to the city.
Ramesh Mamidala     On the domestic front, while Air India and IndiGo have introduced more capacity, Ramesh Mamidala, Air India’s Head of Cargo was quoted saying that as a major facilitator for efficient logistics and exports, Air India was fully committed to the government’s target. Additionally, cargo carriers like Quikjet and Pradhan Air have been ramping up.
     The new Open Sky policy, according to freight forwarders, would relieve the congestion faced by the country’s six major international airports. In fact, apparel exporters from Delhi complained that apparel shipments from Bangladesh had clogged the airport. Apparently, 30-odd bonded trucks from Bangladesh – as per a country-to-country trade arrangement – were reaching Delhi airport every day with goods for exports. These were not only delaying shipments from Delhi but also raising air freight rates. The exporters pointed out that if the Bangladesh shipments were not stopped, sending apparel from Delhi would become uncompetitive.
     Additionally, apart from foreign carriers, the relaxation will also benefit companies operating at airports in non-metro cities. The move will benefit local industries and lower their logistics costs.
Tirthankar Ghosh

Shawwal Moon

Mark Albrecht, Manny Casalinho, Jan Krems

     Eclipsing The Competition . . . On Monday April 8 as the world awaited the Solar Eclipse, down on the ground United Cargo had officially just opened a brand spanking new full-service air cargo facility with all the bells and whistles at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) at 100 Frontage Road.
     All smiles at a lively celebration on Thursday April 4 (in photo above, from left) were Mark Albrecht, United Global Director Cargo Logistics, Manny Casalinho, President, Choice Aviation Services and Jan Krems, United Cargo President as United unveiled the 165,000-square foot cargo facility.
     Added to United's current cargo facility on airport at EWR of 154,000 square feet located on Brewster Road, United Cargo now has 319,000 square feet of total capability at its major New York & New Jersey hub.
     I have always loved Newark Airport, in fact wrote a book about the place in 1978, which saved the 1934 Administration Building (dedicated by Amelia Earhart), that was home to The World’s First Air Traffic Control Center.
     Undoubtedly United Airlines has strong feelings about Newark. When the 'New Newark International’ opened for business in 1973 and then into the 1980s, United operated almost alone in Terminal A, while Terminal B sat half empty and Terminal C was completely vacant, an unoccupied outer shell of a passenger facility.
     But in 1973, United, with a little help from an almost forgotten airline called Peoples Express, which operated from the 1950s passenger terminal next to The Brewster Hangars, staged the beginnings of a big comeback for Newark Airport.
     Not quite as “The World’s Busiest Airport,” a title Newark held from 1928 until LaGuardia Airport opened in 1939, but the airport regained a foothold on the destination map of the airlines of the world.
     Clearly United positioned itself at an underutilized facility, recognizing the potential for the future via great connections to all transportation so that by 1986 when UA landed New York-based Pan American World Airways Pacific Division and later Continental in 2010 in that $8.5-billion-dollar merger, the wisdom of centering its action at the Newark gateway was realized.
     Now United Cargo does it again, flying high, wide and handsome with the newest, most important air cargo facility serving New York and New Jersey metroplex.

Clinton Calabrese, Christian Bollwage, Michael Silva, Bob Smith, John Begier, Omer Mir Ahmed, Chris Ward, Sr., Mike Hanna

     The roster of invited guests, including local political glitterati and others who attended the ribbon-cutting celebration, physical evidence of the importance of this day included: Mike Hanna, United SVP, Worldwide Airport Operations; Christian Bollwage, Mayor of Elizabeth & PANYNJ Board Commissioner; John Begier, CEO Seagis Property Group (Seagis built the new facility); Omer Mir Ahmed, Chief Development Officer Seagis; Clinton Calabrese, New Jersey Assemblyman; Bob Smith, New Jersey State Senator, Michael Silva, East Ward (NJ) Councilman and Chris Ward Sr., United Regional Manager Cargo Ops – U.S. East EWR & IAD.
     So on "peek-a-boo” Solar Monday, we were simply "over the moon" about United Cargo at Newark!

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Eid Blessings

     Eid Al-Fitr, one of Islam's principal holidays is celebrated April 9, 2024, according to the Fiqh Council of North America. At the middle of June, Muslims will celebrate Eid Al-Adha. Ken Chitwood, a scholar of global Islam, explains the two Islamic festivals:
     “Eid literally means a "festival" or "feast" in Arabic. There are two major Eids in the Islamic calendar per year – Eid Al-Fitr earlier in the year and Eid Al-Adha later.
     Eid Al-Fitr upon us now, is a three-day-long festival and is known as the "Lesser" or "Smaller Eid" when compared to Eid Al-Adha, which is four days long and is known as the "Greater Eid."
     The two Eids recognize, celebrate and recall two distinct events that are significant to the story of Islam.
     Eid Al-Fitr means "the feast of breaking the fast." The fast, in this instance, is Ramadan, which recalls the revealing of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad and requires Muslims to fast from sunrise to sundown for a month.
     Eid Al-Fitr features two to three days of celebrations that include special morning prayers. People greet each other with "Eid Mubarak," meaning "Blessed Eid" and with formal embraces. Sweet dishes are prepared at home and gifts are given to children and to those in need. In addition, Muslims are encouraged to forgive and seek forgiveness. Practices vary from country to country.
     In many countries with large Muslim populations, Eid Al-Fitr is a national holiday. Schools, offices and businesses are closed so family, friends and neighbors can enjoy the celebrations together.
     In the U.S. and the U.K., Muslims may request to have the day off from school or work to travel or celebrate with family and friends.
     In countries like Egypt and Pakistan, Muslims decorate their homes with lanterns, twinkling lights or flowers. Special food is prepared and friends and family are invited over to celebrate.
    The crescent moon of Shawwal was sighted April 9 in India, Pakistan, Australia, Singapore, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries—a rare festive Eid-Al-Fitr on Wednesday, April 10, all celebrating together with the Muslims in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, USA, United Kingdom and other countries in the Middle East and West.

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FT031924Vol. 23 No. 13
Face To Face East Side/West Side
Chuckles for March 19, 2024
I Got The Horse Right Here
On The Road Again
An Education In Many Languages
Letter From Brandon Fried
Vol. 23 No. 14
Going Dutch With Delta Cargo
Chuckles for March 26, 2024
United Campfire Gathering
Donna Mullins Thoughtful
Four For Why CNS Matters

Vol. 23 No. 15
Eppur Si Muove
Chuckles for April 4, 2024
MSC Brings It Home In USA
IAG Cargo India Growth Spotlight
Maersk Sustainability Future

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