ACW 18th September 23

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The weekly newspaper for air cargo professionals

No. 1,248 18 September 2023



SAUDIA Cargo has established itself as a key link in the world of international trade. With a robust and expansive global network, the carrier is proud ...



Menzies Aviation, the leading service partner to the world’s airports and airlines, has announced it is an official partner for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Focus Africa Initiative. The decision represents the company’s commitment to Africa’s aviation ecosystem, leveraging its extensive experience and expertise in the region.

According to IATA data, African airlines have experienced a swift recovery in 2023, witnessing a remarkable 87.1% year-on-year growth in revenue passenger kilometres (PRKs), during the first quarter – just 9.4% below 2019 levels. As the largest aviation services company on the African continent, with operations at 40 airports in 19 countries, Menzies is well positioned to help continue this exceptional path of growth in a region that holds significant potential. Through its participation, Menzies Aviation aims to contribute its operational excellence and innovative solutions to help address challenges faced by African airlines and airports. Demonstrating its commitment and investment in the region, the company is currently working on achieving the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) certification or recertification in 16 of its African stations. In South Africa, it secured a new five-year ground handling licence and won game changing contracts in both ground handling and air cargo services.

Abdoulaye Cisse, Head of Africa, Menzies Aviation, said: “The potential for air travel in Africa is huge. It has 17% of the world’s population yet only contributes about 2% of total global travel. While there are hurdles to overcome, joining

the IATA Focus Africa initiative is a testament to our long-term commitment to the continent, and our desire to collaborate with industry leaders to improve aviation safety, facilitate growth, and contribute to Africa’s development journey.

“As the first ground services company partnering on this initiative, we are determined to use our position and expertise to raise the bar for aviation services across Africa providing new technologies, equipment, training and certifications. Menzies is a trusted partner, and we are optimistic about the outlook for the market in Africa in both the near and long term.”

Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, added: “Strong partnerships are critical to the success of Focus Africa and its ability to support the development of a resilient African air transport industry that will foster economic growth, drive skills development and support job creation. Menzies Aviation joining Focus Africa strengthens the coalition and builds even more momentum for the initiative. The contributions of Menzies Aviation and other Focus Africa partners will help unleash the untapped potential of African aviation.”

IATA’s Focus Africa is a new collaborative initiative to urgently address critical challenges hindering the advancement of aviation across Africa. It seeks to draw a common understanding of the challenges facing aviation in Africa and work to develop a safer, more secure, and better-connected continent, driven by a diverse, skilled workforce to unleash aviation’s potential and unlock the economic and social opportunities.


THE US subsidiary of the ownermanaged logistics company Röhlig Logistics has received the IATA Center of Excellence for Independent Validators


OPENING NEW AIR CARGO ... VIRGIN Atlantic Cargo is embarking on a journey of strategic expansion, forging impactful partnerships and introducing new routes ...



THE global air cargo spot rate flattened to USD 2.19 per kg in August, its lowest level since the onset of the pandemic as another weak summer month ...



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Connecting the world with a human-first approach

SAUDIA Cargo has established itself as a key link in the world of international trade. With a robust and expansive global network, the carrier is proud of its reputation for connecting companies and countries.

From its primary hubs in the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Riyadh, strategically located in the heart of the Middle East, the carrier’s reach extends to around 100 airport destinations and 250 customer destinations across four continents.

“Our extensive network ensures that we have a significant footprint in all major economic regions, serving as the Middle East hub for global connectivity to Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and beyond” Teddy Zebitz, CEO of Saudia Cargo and Chairman of the Cargo Executive Board of SkyTeam, said.

“Our unique positioning leverages the strategic location of Saudi Arabia, seamlessly connecting the East and the West, making us an efficient air bridge between continents. Our strategic positioning, coupled with the Kingdom’s substantial purchasing power, underscores our integral role in delivering national economic strength on a global scale.”

“Recognising the potential of robust markets, we have established strong operational bases in China and Southeast Asia, ensuring that we are well-positioned to cater to their growing demands.”

“As e-commerce continues to play a vital part of modern life, our industry serves as a cornerstone, ensuring the seamless and timely delivery of goods to a global audience. Particularly because Saudi Arabia is a prime target market for major e-commerce players, we have strategically allocated our fleet resources to Hong Kongand China with higher frequencies supporting the growing demand for swift and reliable deliveries.”

Amplified through alliances

Saudia Cargo’s membership in the global alliance of SkyTeam Cargo has significantly expanded its reach. Being part of this group boosts the carrier’s connectivity and allows it to tap into the extensive cargo networks of fellow SkyTeam members.

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“This collaboration enables our customers to benefit from a broader range of destinations, increased frequencies, and a seamless cargo experience,” Zebitz explained.

The company continuously adds new destinations that it serves, having most recently added Birmingham and Gatwick in the UK and boosted frequencies to other crucial markets, including South Korea, China, and Thailand.

“These strategic enhancements ensure better connectivity and increased access to our ever-growing customer base,” Zebitz said.

“We continuously explore opportunities to fortify our presence by forging new partnerships and alliances, especially in the Asian markets. We are also focused on establishing a robust and adaptable digital infrastructure as part of our customised service offerings to customers.”

Key to success

Efficiency and reliability are paramount in airfreight, and Saudia Cargo looks to ensure both through partnerships, technology, expertise, and safety measures.

Collaborating with top tier partners, not least ground handling agents, ensures high standards in every aspect of operations.

Leveraging technologies and real-time tracking has helped Saudia Cargo to streamline its processes, boosted by the dedicated team of industry professionals, to make sure operations run smoothly.

Alongside these elements, safety is a priority for Saudia, ensuring all facilities and equipment adhere to the highest global security standards.

“As part of our efforts to ensure utmost efficiency, we focus on utilising our assets as much as possible,” Zebitz said. “Saudia Air Cargo is now close to being among the top 10 in the world for block-hour utilisation of freighters.”

“Saudia Cargo takes pride in its dedicated fleet of aircraft which enables us to provide flexible cargo solutions that address our customers’ diverse needs and requirements,” Zebitz laid out. “Our fleet composition is designed to offer versatility in capacity, combining wide-body and narrow-body aircraft to cater to various demands.”

“Our growing fleet of aircraft consists of seven dedicated freighters, including four Boeing 777s and three Boeing 747s. In addition, our belly fleet encompasses 83 widebody and 81 narrowbody aircraft.”

Sustainable statement

Saudia Cargo is committed to focusing on its impact on the world. Its team is dedicated to incorporating sustainability into their operations. This is part of the carrier’s national commitment towards the Saudi Green Initiative and the Saudi Vision 2030 objectives, paving the way to the aviation industry goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Saudia Cargo’s sustainability policy is highlighted through key strategic initiatives such as: Diverting paper airway bills to digital airway bills; optimising fuel usage; investing in digital sales channels; reducing trucking emissions; delivering relief and aid to marginalised communities through their partnership with King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center.

“We understand the importance of education and better planning in limiting our carbon emissions, and we strive to reduce fuel intake and usage by optimising fuel calculations and carefully planning routes and flights. On the ground, our use of Ground Power Units (GPUs) at airports minimises the need for aircraft engines to run, further conserving fuel,” Zebitz said.

Push into pharma

By uplifting its service levels, Saudi Cargo is proactively elevating its capabilities to cater to the demands of various cargo types. Enhancing pharmaceutical transportation capabilities is a prime example of this.

“Our efforts to safeguard temperature-sensitive cargo, such as perishables and pharmaceuticals, as well as advanced hazardous goods shipping capabilities, have been bolstered by terminal expansions and robust digital systems,” Zebitz explained.

“As part of these efforts, we’ve formed strategic alliances and collaborations with renowned names like Envirotainer, DoKaSch, CSafe, va-Q-tec, SkyCell, and Tower Cold Chain, in addition to our recent membership of the Pharma Aero Network.”

These partnerships raised Saudi Cargo’s standards and enable it to provide comprehensive solutions tailored to the diverse requirements of global clients. Its proactive approach

aligns with efforts to attain IATA’s certifications for the CEIV Pharma programme, a vital step in meeting pharmaceutical manufacturers’ stringent transportation demands, particularly for time-sensitive products such as vaccines.

Technolohical transformation

Saudia Cargo strives to be at the forefront of embracing technological advancements to enhance operations and service offerings. In today’s digital age, leveraging technologies like AI and automation is increasingly becoming a necessity to remain competitive, also in the air cargo industry.

“One of our strides in this direction is our collaboration with RTS Global,” Zebitz pointed to. “The partnership entails the implementation of digital solutions for revenue planning and management as well as pricing. As a cargo solution of choice, RTS support us in integrating advanced forecasting and optimisation algorithms.”

“Our partnership with Microsoft is another testament to our commitment to technological innovation. By signing an MoU, we’re in the process of implementing a cloud-based solution tailored for cargo operations. This solution is expected to further streamline our processes, improve efficiency, and result in cost savings while ensuring data integrity and security.”

Saudia Cargo utilises tech-powered ULDs from Unilode, employ online sales channels and APIs, and offer electronic bookings, real-time tracking, custom charter flights, and comprehensive information services to accommodate different types of cargo. By integrating advanced tracking systems, the carrier has been able to offer features like instant notifications on cargo movement, detailed route history, and predictive analytics on delivery times. This boosts transparency and allows for proactive handling of potential disruption.

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Röhlig USA receives IATA certification

THE US subsidiary of the owner-managed logistics company Röhlig Logistics has received the IATA Center of Excellence for Independent Validators Lithium Batteries (CEIV Li-batt) certification for its key branches in Chicago and New York.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) introduced the certification to ensure that the lithium battery product supply chain meets their safety obligations and complies with the applicable transport regulations. In the lead-up to its accreditation, Röhlig USA successfully passed a lengthy certification process consisting of in-depth employee training, on-site assessments and a final validation.

Markus Wegmann, Chief Operating Officer at Röhlig USA, says: “We are delighted to be one of only a few freight forwarders in the US to have already been recognized with the CEIV Li-batt certification. It further demonstrates our expertise in handling lithium batteries as well as our compliance with all regulations. Thanks to highly efficient, standardized processes and our commitment to the highest safety standards, our customers can rest fully assured that their goods containing lithium batteries are in safe hands with us.”

The certification of the two key facilities in Chicago and New York was just the first step for the logistics solutions provider, with a roll-out to additional offices and countries across Röhlig’s global network expected in the coming months.

Cargo iQ’s surge in sign-ups continues as LOT Polish Airlines joins the group

AIR cargo quality standards group Cargo iQ has welcomed newest member LOT Polish Airlines (LOT) to its ever-expanding community.

As a member of Cargo iQ, LOT aims to help create and implement the highest global quality standards in the cargo sector and to differentiate as a reliable partner of choice in an increasingly competitive industry landscape.

“LOT has a precise vision of innovation and continuous development, and we recognise Cargo iQ as a first league community which provides a gateway to achieving this,” said Michał Grochowski, Cargo and Mail Director, LOT Polish Airlines.

“Our goal remains unchanged in our desire to be more present in global tenders with quality freight forwarders and we hope to be recognised as global best-in-class for quality in the cargo business.

“That is why we invest our resources in acquiring IATA CEIV

certifications, as well as being part of Cargo iQ, as indisputable proof of quality.”

“LOT has been flying since 1929, and as one of the longest running airlines in the world it has withstood significant changes, with the advent of the 21st century and the arrival of a competitive global environment where cost and service optimisation are the name of the game.”

The airline joins Cargo iQ with the goal of staying ahead of the curve in a continually changing industry, looking initially to address current challenges related to electronic data exchange, both internally and collaboratively with partners’ operating systems.

“LOT Polish Airlines shares in our vision for enhanced data visibility and improved quality in the global supply chain and will begin working together with other Cargo iQ members towards this goal,” said Lothar Moehle, Executive Director, Cargo iQ.

“As our members progress towards 100 percent reporting in the end-to-end shipment process, and we continue to develop and implement quality standards for global airfreight, the Cargo iQ name is becoming synonymous with quality in our industry.”

The onboarding of LOT follows the recent addition of new members Avianca Cargo and airline IT solutions provider Hitit this July, representing significant growth for the organisation.


Opening new air cargo avenues

VIRGIN Atlantic Cargo is embarking on a journey of strategic expansion, forging impactful partnerships and introducing new routes that promise to redefine cargo transportation and reinforce the airline’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

Working hand in hand

Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s partnership with Delta Air Lines isn’t just about collaboration; it’s a dynamic synergy that enhances cargo routes across North America.

“We have a leading transatlantic presence with our aligned handling and commitment to customers,” Phil Wardlaw, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said.

This partnership offers customers a seamless experience, connecting trade flows globally. Additionally, the alliance extends to large project moves, where the combined capacity of both airlines addresses customer demands that surpass individual carrier capabilities.

“We work together to offer customers solutions... allowing the customer to use one point of contact,” Wardlaw added.

Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s expansion into South America, particularly the daily flight from London Heathrow to São Paulo, presents an array of opportunities for trade between the UK and Brazil.

“Brazil’s position of being the number one import and export country in South America will help make São Paulo a popular cargo route,” Wardlaw shared.

The route is expected to facilitate shipments of car parts, pharmaceuticals, food, and agricultural products, thus contributing to the substantial trade volume between the two countries, which stands at £7.7 billion annually.

Efficiency redefined

Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s expansion into new routes brings fresh opportunities for companies engaged in various industries. The Manchester to Las Vegas route, for instance, has a unique

the west coast,” Wardlaw added, highlighting the diverse cargo possibilities. “Customers have a choice of how they route their cargo to achieve the right rate and handling for their goods.”

Balancing services

Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s strategic expansion goes beyond cargo; it supports the broader economy.

“The US represents 11% of all UK inbound tourism... increasing its seat offering from Manchester by more than 20% year-on-year,” Wardlaw explained.

This expansion ensures a harmonious balance between passenger and cargo services, thus contributing to economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Furthermore, the transatlantic relationship remains pivotal for the UK economy. By offering efficient cargo services and additional US capacity from the north of the UK, Virgin Atlantic Cargo plays a pivotal role in fostering new opportunities for companies engaged in imports and exports.

Innovative growth

Virgin Atlantic’s expansion into Bengaluru, a burgeoning tech hub and corporate centre, signifies the airline’s commitment to fulfilling the region’s transportation needs.

“As well as flying customers, Virgin Atlantic will offer a fast, efficient cargo service with 20 tonnes available on each flight,” Wardlaw stated.

This move aligns with the city’s industrial prominence, accommodating the transportation of goods like fashion, pharmaceuticals, and tech between prime markets in the UK, US, and India.

“We’re looking forward to expanding our offering in India, as the rapidly growing city of Bengaluru represents an incredibly exciting opportunity for us as we offer increased capacity into this growing market,” he continued.

Further to Bengaluru, Virgin Atlantic recently announced its return to Dubai, operating seasonally from October through to March four times a week, with 20 tonnes of cargo capacity on each flight.

This fast cargo service offers customers another choice of carrier to export and import goods such as fresh produce and high-tech products between the Middle East and prime markets in the UK and the US.

With its customers at the heart of everything they do, Virgin Atlantic Cargo is committed to offering the best possible service through their people and new technology, to offer more choice and greater flexibility.

“We also have new flights to São Paulo, Brazil. The exciting new route will fly daily from 13 May 2024. Brazil’s position as the number one import and export country in South America makes São Paulo a popular cargo route,” Wardlaw said.

“With multiple tonnes of capacity each day, we expect to carry regular shipments of car parts, pharmaceuticals, food, and agricultural products, contributing to £7.7 billion in annual trade between the two countries.”


“Our new Manchester to Las Vegas route enables us to enhance our capacity to and from the West Coast via a robust trucking network to connect to the end destination,” Wardlaw explained.

While Las Vegas may not be a conventional cargo lane, it offers unparalleled flexibility. The route serves as a conduit for tech traffic and fruit shipments between the north of England and the west coast.

“We transport a variety of goods, including perishables, cars, e-commerce, and Pharma to

Further to the announcement of these new routes, the airline’s seasonal winter service to Cape Town will be taking to the skies once again from 28 October 2023 to 30 March 2024. This is another exciting opportunity for Virgin Atlantic Cargo as we partner with a new Ground Handling Agent (GHA).

Following a recently successful transition to Menzies in Johannesburg, they decided to also instate them as our GHA in Cape Town.

With a state-of-the-art handling capability at its facility, Menzies has a thoughtfully designed warehouse enabling cargo to efficiently flow through the warehouse, which will support the business as they continue to enhance their offering in South Africa.


New airspace data features rolled out

ALTITUDE Angel has released two significant updates to its map data providing drone operators and recreational users with a greater understanding of airspace restrictions and NOTAMs (Notice to Aviators).

Following an update to Altitude Angel’s airspace data processing, it now publishes the remarks for all ‘Danger, Prohibited and Restricted Areas.’ These are supplied by the relevant authority and typically provide other airspace users with more detailed information about the timing, nature of hazard, type of restriction, and authority contact details.

The second update has been to process some additional NOTAM categories. Altitude Angel continuously review the type of NOTAMs it publishes through its platform, assessing their relevance to UAS operations and disregarding irrelevant ones, such as ATM infrastructure (e.g. radar systems), aerodrome services (e.g. firefighting) and

Need-to-know advice on airfreight security changes

THE Airforwarders Association (AfA) will host the SeaTac Regional Event on 14 September to inform the local Seattle and state of Washington logistics communities about important changes to air cargo security requirements and discuss local and national industry challenges.

the like. The latest update to the map data means some additional NOTAMs will now be available to see on the Drone Assist app and as well as CLOUD customers using Altitude Angel’s airspace data service.

Simon Wynn-Mackenzie, Altitude Angel, VP Product, said: “We’re constantly looking to see how we can improve and update our datasets, and what needs to be displayed. We do this to give users and customers the best service, so they can make informed decisions on flight operations using the most accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information.

“We’ve acted on feedback we’ve received from operators who have told us they would like a greater understanding of restricted areas, likewise different NOTAM categories which can pose a ‘risk’ when flying. We hope our users enjoy the additional data we’ve now made available.”

Forwarders and shippers across the region are encouraged to sign up to attend the meeting, which will be held at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SeaTac), featuring panellists from SeaTac leadership, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Roanoke Insurance Group.

TSA air cargo leadership will provide an update on the imminent end to the Impracticable to Screen Amendment, as well as guidance on how shippers should prepare for revised requirements as of 1 November, followed by a Q & A session.

Seattle Airport and Roanoke Insurance Group will join a panel to discuss the latest industry trends, with airport management addressing local issues and how its cargorelated development plan aims to address these challenges.

Attendees will also hear an update on the latest trends in fraud schemes in transportation from Roanoke’s Senior Vice President – Client

Experience, Amanda Barlow, who will offer best practice advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of stolen cargo and cyber-attacks.

AfA’s Executive Director, Brandon Fried, will moderate all sessions throughout the meeting, taking place from 5.00-8.00pm PDT in Alaska Airlines’ new 128,000-sq-ft facility at SeaTac Airport, ‘The Hub’.

“We strongly encourage as many forwarders as possible to come to the event and learn about the TSA air cargo security changes effective 1st November and what options are available for shippers and freight forwarders,” said Fried.

“It’s essential for forwarders to be prepared and know what advice they should be giving their customers at this time.”

“The local Seattle area is a vital region for air cargo and the Seattle Airport community has shared in many of the challenges experienced by other major airports in the US, and their leadership will be on hand to discuss these challenges and a way forward, while AfA will relay our efforts to resolve them on Capitol Hill.”

Further upcoming information sessions hosted by AfA and the TSA will be held on 27 September in Houston, Texas, and 28 September in New York, USA.


A new chapter in air cargo logistics

e-commerce and express logistics, China’s lack of a professional cargo airport was exposed.

“Accelerating the construction of cargo function-based airports was an important task we faced,” Guowei explained. “Ezhou Airport helps to improve the layout of China’s aviation industry and make up for the shortcoming.”

One of the main motivations behind developing Ezhou Airport is its strategic location despite being in a landlocked province. The airport’s proximity to key transportation corridors allows it to seamlessly integrate with high-speed rail and ports, creating a comprehensive transportation corridor that spans air, land, and water transport.

“This airport plays a crucial role in realising the interconnected “three port” synergy spanning air, land, and water transport, giving rise to an expansive transportation blueprint featuring aviation and fortified by an underlying network of railways and roads, which is further extended through maritime transport,” Guowei highlighted.

cargo sorting centre with 23,000 sets of sorting equipment and an annual handling capacity of 635 million pieces; a 15,000-sq m passenger terminal, and a 24,000-sq m domestic cargo terminal.

“The application of machinery and artificial intelligence to facilitate automated operations effectively tackles labour costs and enhances logistical efficiency,” Guowei highlighted. “Automated sorting machines are set to emerge as a pivotal element in elevating efficiency within industrial production and the circulation of commercial trade.”

International interaction

IN 2022, Ezhou Huahu Airport opened its doors with the core mission of collaboratively establishing the air cargo hub layout alongside comprehensive hub airports.

As the world’s fourth and Asia’s first professional cargo airport, it has rapidly emerged as a key hub, connecting the key market to the rest of the world. It also shoulders the responsibility of reshaping the global aviation logistics framework and fostering the creation of a world-class supply chain centre.

“The opening of Ezhou Huahu Airport enables China to have a large-scale air cargo hub of

international standard, making up for China as the most important world factory in the global industrial chain, but there is in the absence of a correspondingly competitive international air cargo network,” Luo Guowei, Party Secretary and Chairman of Hubei International Logistics Airport Co. Ltd. said.

Multimodal connectivity

By June 2022, China had a total of 250 transportation airports, but none were predominantly focused on cargo operations. Especially in the airfreight space, with the rise of

“Ezhou Airport remains steadfast in its commitment to the principles of “consolidation, enhancement, refinement, and fluidity,” and will focus on improving aviation support capabilities and industrial chain level,” Guowei continued.

Catalyst for economic development

Ezhou Airport’s significance extends beyond logistics; it plays a pivotal role in advancing China’s economic development strategies. As part of the Belt and Road initiative, the airport aligns with the economic development requirements of countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

“The new era emphasises linking China and the countries along “the Belt and Road” through aviation cargo transportation,” Guowei said. “The demand for air cargo is surging within China’s economic and trade collaborations with 65 countries along this route to turn Ezhou into China’s Memphis.”

Additionally, the rise of e-commerce has fuelled the need for efficient cargo operations, positioning Ezhou Airport as a critical player in powering operations within the region and beyond.

“Internationally, the construction and operation of Ezhou Huahu Airport stands to augment the global competitiveness of China’s air cargo sector, facilitating its stride to catch up with international giants such as FedEx, and take the lead in the global middle and high-end market,” Guowei stated.

Tailor made terminal

Ezhou Airport boasts state-of-the-art facilities tailored for cargo operations. With its wellplanned terminal and runway system, including class 4E flight areas and long-distance runways, the airport can accommodate large aircraft like the B747-8.

The airport’s current phase has been completed in accordance with the target of the terminal area to meet 1 million passengers and 2.45 million tonnes of cargo and mail throughput in 2025, and the flight area runway system to meet 1.5 million passengers and 3.3 million tonnes of cargo and mail throughput in 2030.

“Through the integration of automated sorting systems, automatic identification systems, handheld terminals, and integrated device systems, rapid and precise management and sorting of goods can be realised,” Guowei said.

The airport has a 750,000-square-metre

The vision for the Ezhou hub is the construction of a modern logistics platform with international impact, while its core strength will lie in providing the fastest and most comprehensive logistics options for any goods – anywhere, any time. Its development objective is rooted in being anchored in Ezhou, encompassing the entirety of China’s Hubei province, and extending across the nation to offer global services.

Guided by the demands of the cargo market, this hub aspires to bridge gaps and address any weaknesses in China’s aviation cargo infrastructure, enhance international aviation cargo capabilities, and construct an air cargo hub with global competitiveness.

“Etihad Cargo’s inaugural flight signifies a joint endeavour between Ezhou Airport and international airlines to develop international routes and enhance competitiveness against global airports; establishing a significant new milestone in history for local governance to attract noteworthy partnerships,” Guowei said.

Leveraging this momentum, Ezhou Huahu Airport is accelerating the development of the “Aero-City” concept, proactively enticing both domestic and international carriers to put into operation.

Together, these efforts aim to elevate Ezhou Huahu Airport into a globally influential international cargo hub, collectively contributing to the establishment of an open inland hub and the advancement of central China.

2025 vision

With the continuous optimisation of anti-pandemic measures, the domestic macroeconomy is witnessing a gradual recovery, and both SF Airlines and Etihad Cargo have launched Ezhou-Abu Dhabi direct freight routes.

This move serves a dual purpose: on the one hand, it stimulates the development of domestic and international air cargo trade; on the other hand, it accelerates the development and operation of the international all-freight market. This lays the foundation for the gradual resumption and opening up of international air logistics corridors that span the globe, and makes substantial efforts to fortify air transport capacity and operational efficiency, and continues to ensure the seamlessness and security of air logistics transportation.

As the only professional cargo airport approved for construction in China, it is projected that approximately 10 international cargo routes and 50 domestic cargo routes will be operational from Ezhou by 2025.

“This joint effort not only boosts the development of the Wuhan Metropolitan Area, but also facilitates Hubei’s integration into the “dual circulation” development framewor. These initiatives contribute towards the objective of cultivating a pioneering region for the construction of new national development dynamics, and ultimately evolving into a significant new growth catalyst for the Chinese economy.”


Air cargo demand growth ‘a few quarters away’

THE global air cargo spot rate flattened to USD 2.19 per kg in August, its lowest level since the onset of the pandemic as another weak summer month saw chargeable weight edge -1% lower for a fourth consecutive month, according to the latest weekly market analysis from CLIVE Data Services, part of Xeneta.

While shippers and forwarders continue to benefit from the overall decline of general airfreight rates, rising jet fuel prices should concern an already contracted market, with the US gulf coast jet fuel spot price jumping 21% month-over-month.

August saw global air cargo capacity rise +7% year-on-year, while CLIVE’s global dynamic load factor analysis, which measures cargo load factor based on both volume and weight perspectives of cargo flown and capacity available, climbed one percentage point about the previous month to 56%. But it is worth noting that the August global load factor continued to fall year-on-year, down 3% from last year’s level. Softened global demand and the capacity surge were the main reasons behind this.

The data dampens some industry reports of a slight spike in demand in August, leading to hopes of a rise in volumes going into the final four months of the year.

“We are picking up signals that it could take another few quarters before we see more demand on a global level,” said Niall van de Wouw, Chief Airfreight Officer at Xeneta.

“The market seems to have levelled out, but still holds a lot of uncertainty, and not just for airfreight. There was also no peak for the ocean market, which typically precedes the airfreight market by a couple of months. There are even blank sailings scheduled ahead of the Golden Week period.

“There is likely to be upward pressure on airfreight rates in the second half of October as capacity is taken out of the market, but it’s getting late in the game to positively impact the industry’s 2023 performance, and the signals for the rest of the year are not good given the macroeconomic outlook hasn’t improved,” van de Wouw added.

Average general airfreight rates in August dipped as low as USD 2.13 per kg in the first two weeks of the month, although this varies by trade corridor. Of 10 major trade lanes assessed in the past month, only China-United States and Southeast Asia-United States recorded growth, with air cargo spot rates up 3% and 4% respectively on these corridors. This is attributed to a more resilient US economy with strong retail sales and, to some extent, also delayed recovery of US-China passenger bellyhold capacity, which is growing at a much slower pace than Europe-China.

Even so, due to capacity shortage triggered by various geopolitical issues, airfreight spot rates ex Northeast Asia to Middle East & Central Asia, Northeast Asia to Europe, China to the US and China to Europe remained highly elevated, still up by around 55% from their pre-pandemic levels.

Looking forward, the oceanfreight container market might shed some light on where the air cargo market is heading, given that the ocean market tends to begin its yearly peak season a few months ahead of the airfreight cycle. So far, the global ocean container market has not shown any meaningful peak season trends.

Globe Air Cargo China to enhance Asian air cargo operations

THE contract, effective from 1 July 2023, designates Globe Air Cargo China as the General Sales Agent (GSA) for the entirety of China, aligning with existing cooperation in other countries. With a projected tonnage of approximately 100 tonnes for the year 2023, this partnership underscores the commitment of both Globe Air Cargo China and Royal Brunei Airlines to elevate air cargo services within the region. The primary commodities transported are general cargo and e-commerce cargo, reflecting the potential in this sector.

Currently, Royal Brunei operates a notable frequency of flights out of China, including three weekly flights from Beijing Airport (PKX) and one weekly flight from Hangzhou (HGH) with A320NEO aircraft, offering a combined weekly cargo capacity of around seven tonnes. Moreover, two weekly flights from and to Nanning Wuxu commenced from 27 August 2023, providing an additional weekly cargo capacity of around 4,400kg. The destinations served by Royal Brunei flights departing from Chinese airports, such as Beijing (PKX), Hangzhou (HGH), Shanghai Pudong (PVG) and Nanning Wuxu (NNG), connect to over 20 global destinations operated by Royal Brunei.

Managing Director of Globe Air Cargo China, Jean Chen, expressed her excitement about this new contract, stating, “We are proud to be a global GSA with a local focus, leveraging our team

of experts, flexibility, and market-specific know-how to cater to the unique needs, strategies, and desired outcomes of our partners.”

Royal Brunei is no stranger to the professional services provided by the ECS Group as it has already experienced seamless handling in various countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, India, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

“We are pleased to partner with Globe Air Cargo China to enhance our air cargo operations in China. With Globe Air Cargo China’s expertise and local focus, coupled with Royal Brunei’s extensive flight network, we are confident that this collaboration will create new opportunities and elevate air cargo services to greater heights.” said Christina Chua Ngoh Boi, RB Acting Chief Commercial Officer. Through this partnership, Globe Air Cargo China and Royal Brunei aim to strengthen air cargo operations in China, enhancing connectivity and facilitating the seamless movement of goods between China and the world.



The pandemic was a major disruptor for air cargo operations but it also brought air cargo into the limelight. Air cargo proved its ability to be agile and innovative, as the need for air cargo picked up speed and traditional processes had to transition to modern, automated processes.

Digital development

Several years ago, air cargo was lagging behind in terms of innovation, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for digitalisation. With better managerial and organisational practices, many companies in the airfreight sector are now moving ahead to improve and streamline their processes and operations.

Qatar Airways Cargo (QR Cargo) saw the potential in innovating early, bringing transparency to customers, so they have complete visibility throughout the entire supply chain.

“While we had many of our digitalisation projects already under process, the COVID-19 pandemic indeed accelerated digitalisation for airfreight,” Liesbeth Oudkerk, Senior Vice President Cargo Sales and Network Planning, stated.

The first step in Qatar Airways Cargo’s digital transformation journey is visible with its brand-new website released in May 2022.

The new website boasts a brand-new design which offers simple navigation, intuitive positioning of information backed with robust security.

Since the new website is cloud-based and requires fewer clicks to source relevant information, it also boasts a lower carbon footprint than its predecessor.

“Digitalisation has greatly helped improve customer experience and new emerging technologies like blockchain and AI are now emerging as the future of airfreight and will facilitate greater collaboration and communication.”

10 ACW 18 SEPTEMBER 2023
“While we had many of our digitalisation projects already under process, the COVID-19 pandemic indeed accelerated digitalisation for airfreight”


QR Cargo doesn’t see technology erasing the human connection, it is simply reimagining it. Air cargo has always been a traditional industry, built on human relationships, interaction and manual processes.

Digitalisation provides customers with a personalised service and reduces inefficiencies and friction while enhancing customer experience.

“The next generation of air cargo leaders and staff will be highly technologically savvy for whom digitalisation is the norm so it only makes sense to adopt this forward thinking and modern approach to adapt to the next evolution of the industry.” Oudkerk added.

Meeting market demands

From a modest position in 2003, with few freighter destinations and three A300-600 freighters, QR Cargo’s operations have grown tremendously, juggling their fair share of challenges.

Now operating an extensive network to more than 70 freighter destinations and over 150 passenger destinations with 31 freighters, QR Cargo is keeping customers at the heart of everything they do.

This growth had been powered by the introduction of state-ofthe-art products and services, investment in its hubs and a strong focus on technology and sustainability.

“We are always in constant dialogue with our customers to understand their requirements and better support their business by introducing enhancements and services in line with the changes in the airfreight scenario,” Oudkerk said.

Contributing to a better world

Qatar Airways Cargo is committed to contributing to a number of positive projects across charitable, environmental, and humanitarian initiatives and a sustainability programme. Given government legislations and initiatives like UN’s

sustainable development goals and goals adopted by many countries, there is a greater push for greener services. Furthermore, more and more customers are becoming aware and educated in matters of sustainability and want to make a difference where they can.

“We continually explore ways to reduce our carbon footprint through various initiatives such as improvements in operational efficiencies, process enhancements, digitalisation, fleet modernisation, effective waste management and carbon offsetting,” Oudkerk explained.

Under its WeQare programme, QR Cargo has, so far, launched four chapters: One Million Kilos: Transporting aid and relief goods; Rewild the Planet: Offering free transport to bring wild animals back to their natural habitat; Let’s Stand Together: Collecting donations for children which were assembled in Doha and distributed to charities worldwide; Diversity: Portrayed on an aircraft livery with the slogan MOVED BY PEOPLE.

Drive for development

Looking forward, QR Cargo acknowledges that geopolitical events can impact the airfreight market.

“In today’s age, basically, there are a number of global events due to which we are adopting a wait and watch approach,” Oudkerk said. “What we know for certain is that the growing push for digitalisation and sustainability will definitely affect the airfreight industry in positive ways.”

“We will continue to strategise our network planning and commercial plans, adjusting the way we fly, where we fly and which aircraft we operate according to the market situation.”

As QR Cargo becomes more cost conscious to ensure improved profitability for the airline as well as best value for our customers, Oudkerk was clear that “there will also be a lot of focus on innovation in our processes, technology, people and skills.”

“In today’s age, basically, there are a number of global events due to which we are adopting a wait and watch approach”