ACW 23rd January 23

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No upswing in demand for airfreight at the start of 2023


Zongteng Group welcomed the inaugural flight of its Boeing 777F freighter (B777F) from Shenzhen to Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport on 16th January, 2023. The event included a welcome speech and a ribboncutting ceremony for the new Shenzhen-Paris flight route. It was attended by Jack Peng (Senior Vice President Zongteng Group and General Manager YunExpress), Xiaoyang Jiang (General Manager YunExpress France), and representatives from Groupe ADP, Central Airlines, Clear Express, Worldwide Flight Services, and French customs. With a planned annual cargo capacity of over 15,000 tonnes, the new route will support Zongteng Group’s customers with highly reliable e-commerce logistics services and optimised lead times. Flights will depart from Shenzhen and connect with further transport hubs at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport in Paris. A second B777 freighter is expected to enter service in Q3 2023, and there will then be six to eight direct flights per week. In 2024, the total annual cargo capacity is

projected to reach 28,000 tonnes.

The B777F has a range of 9,200 kilometres and a maximum load capacity of more than 102 tonnes. This freighter combines excellent range capability and outstanding efficiency with lower carbon emissions, making it the world’s largest and longest-range twin-engine wide-body freighter. It enables Zongteng Group to form an air-to-ground connection with global cargo collections, line haul transportation, fulfilment warehouses, and distribution centres, which further consolidates the company’s end-to-end supply chain infrastructure.

CDG airport is a principal air transport hub for Europe. The Shenzhen-Paris flight route underscores the airport’s importance as a vital gateway to international trade, and reinforces its key role in e-commerce logistics. Zongteng Group works closely with local logistics partners to continuously facilitate cross-border e-commerce via intra-Europe network connectivity. These strategic partnerships play a significant role in strengthening cross-border trade between China

and France. Together with its European partners, Zongteng Group is committed to creating value for the e-commerce express market by forming air-to-ground connections with global air cargo collections, line haul transportation, fulfilment warehouses, and distribution centres in Europe and beyond.

“We were honoured to celebrate this special day with our partners. The Boeing freighter significantly extends our line-haul transportation capabilities and strengthens end-to-end supply chain infrastructure, so the launch of this flight route is a milestone,” Jack Peng, Senior Vice President Zongteng Group and General Manager YunExpress, said.

“Zongteng Group looks forward to realising the immense potential of Sino-European cross-border trade, in collaboration with our European partners. We strive to build on our strategic investment in self-owned freighters and logistics network, and identify further opportunities to maximise the capabilities of the airfreight supply chain,” he added.

ETIHAD Airways, the national airline of the UAE, will be introducing two routes this year, connecting Abu Dhabi to Copenhagen in Denmark and ...


LOGISTICS UK MEETS WITH ... Logistics UK, as part of the Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group (NIBBWG), has met the UK Foreign Secretary James ...



AIR Astana, Kazakhstan’s national airline, continued to grow in key areas in 2022. In the 20th year since the company was founded ... PAGE 5

STRIVING to make BRUCargo the most attractive, efficient, innovative and successful logistical platform, Air Cargo Belgium (ACB) has


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Etihad Airways announces new routes to Copenhagen and Düsseldorf

ETIHAD Airways, the national airline of the UAE, will be introducing two routes this year, connecting Abu Dhabi to Copenhagen in Denmark and Düsseldorf in Germany.

Launching on 1st October, the flights will provide business travellers and holidaymakers in the UAE and these key European cities with convenient travel options to and from Abu Dhabi, with three weekly flights to Düsseldorf and four weekly flights to Copenhagen.

Düsseldorf will be the airline’s third city in Germany after Frankfurt and Munich, both currently served with daily flights. The flights will be operated using state-ofthe-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

“We are thrilled to start flying to Denmark for the first time and to expand our network in Germany to our third city, providing guests with more holiday options and easier access between Abu Dhabi and Europe,” Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said.

NEO Air Charter appoints

Logistics UK meets with senior ministers to discuss NI Protocol

Logistics UK, as part of the Northern Ireland Business Brexit Working Group (NIBBWG), has met the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, to discuss the ongoing and future impacts of the Northern Ireland Protocol on NI trade.

“Logistics businesses are the backbone of

“It is encouraging to see the Westminster government actively engaging with industry and we look forward to taking part in further scheduled meetings...Logistics UK welcomes the opportunity to represent our members’ interests at the highest level, engaging in the

NEO Air Charter – the fast-growing cargo charter broker based in Germany – has appointed Ian Flett to the new position of Regional Sales Manager, Nordic Region. He is based in Denmark.

Flett will promote the company’s services to forwarders and logistics service providers with customers in the industrial-, government- and humanitarian aid sectors.

“We are very pleased to welcome Ian to our growing team. His experience both as a supplier and consumer of air freight services, as

well as his thorough knowledge of the Nordics air cargo market and his language skills, make him a valuable addition to our company,” NEO Managing Director Stefan Kohlmann said.

“NEO is already well-known in this region, has built an enviable reputation, and is widely-respected for its strict trade-only policy which ensures its clients’ relationships with their own customers will never be compromised. I am excited about helping NEO to achieve its full potential in this very active charter market,” Flett added.

the Northern Ireland economy. They keep goods moving, and smooth trade between Northern Ireland, GB and the EU is vital for our sector and for economic growth... We emphasised the need for a negotiated outcome between the UK and the EU on implementation of the Protocol that reduces administrative and cost burdens, and delivers stability, certainty, simplicity and affordability for businesses. We were encouraged by the Foreign Secretary’s positive approach and understanding of the issues our member businesses face,” Nichola Mallon, Head of Trade and Devolved Policy at Logistics UK commented.

conversations that are driving solutions. We urge politicians from both the UK and EU to reach a timely resolution that provides greater certainty and clarity for member businesses, as well as the wider Northern Ireland economy.”

Logistics UK is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK businesses.

Gulf Air extends its partnership with Unilode for another 10-year term


Gulf Air awarded the management of its ULD fleet to Unilode in 2011. Since then, Unilode has supported Gulf Air’s significant fleet growth and route network extension with global ULD supply, management, maintenance and digital services as well as accessories management, led by a dedicated local customer success management team and supported by the global Operations Control Centre. The renewed agreement will see Unilode continue to supply pallets, and lighter weight and more durable AKE containers from its ULD pool to Gulf Air for increased synergies and sustainability benefits. Unilode will also provide speciality containers, which will be dedicated for Gulf Air’s exclusive use.

“Gulf Air is committed to being an industry leader and embracing innovative technolo -

gies, and Unilode’s digital ULD fleet enables our airline to enhance the services offered to our passengers and customers. For the success of our airline, it is important to collaborate with strategic partners who share our values and vision, and we are pleased to be able to continue our strong relationship with Unilode’s team and ULD solutions for another 10 years,” Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer, Captain Waleed Al Alawi, commented.

“Gulf Air is one of Unilode’s most loyal ULD management customers, and we are pleased with the extension of our partnership until 2032...We have strengthened our presence in the region with additional customer success management staff to be able to continue providing the best possible service to our valued partner. Gulf Air’s ambitious growth plans are very exciting, and we look forward to continuing our close and successful partnership for many years to come,” Unilode Chief Executive Officer Ross Marino, said.

Air and Unilode Aviation Solutions have announced the renewal of their longstanding ULD management partnership for another 10year term.
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Ian Flett

AIA Cargo seeks to build on impressive year of growth


To stay ahead in a rapidly changing market, AIA has sought to embrace technological innovations that can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations. While the GSSA, and airfreight sector as a whole, might not have been the fastest industry to embrace digitalisation, AIA sees a “stable digital growth path” in its market.

The beauty of digitalisation is that it can improve operations in multiple environments. AIA sees Europe, North America and Asia as particularly benefiting from the introduction of technology in the industry.

While technology is being embraced by some, there are those within the airfreight industry who still prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, meaning GSSAs have to be prepared for that. AIA seeks to ensure that it can “do and combine” its resources “to deliver traditional and innovative digital services.”

Global growth

SERVING 24 airlines across seven continents, AIA Cargo has grown over the last 14 years into one of the leading independent general sales and service agents (GSSA). With the GSSA industry evolving in recent years and changing requirements from customers, AIA has sought to strength its position in the industry through strong investment, growing structures, geographical expansion and digitalisation.

Founded with a vision to provide airlines with a “exceptional, viable, pro-active solution for their cargo GSSA requirements,” AIA offers a range of services across air, road and sea, ranging from basic, non-exclusive agreements to exclusive and total cargo management solutions.

“We are an independent cargo GSA leader company in the global industry and our customers clearly understand our efficiencies and neutrality . On top of our highly valued sales and services our e-commerce, RFS , and special products like AVI are very attractive in the markets,” Jaime Salguero, CCO of AIA Cargo said.

“With 22 partner airlines, investment in staff, new offices and heavy investment in IT products AIA Cargo saw a large 25% increase in growth for 2022 across the network. The main bulk can be contributed towards the new AIA Germany set up which has seen a fantastic take up from customers on the products that AIA Cargo is offering to the German market. AIA pinpoints that Germany will have further growth in 2023 as a number of airlines enquire about the GSSA product on offer. AIA will continue to invest in 2023 and sees further potential for better growth despite the economic grumbles and potential face of recessions.”

While the airfreight market has faced a number of hurdles, there are still plenty of areas for geographical expansion. With over 22 airline partners already, AIA has its eyes set on the horizon, citing Europe, Asia and the Americas as specific regions it’s targeting. This growth is reflective of the company’s truly global representation, as, based out of London’s Heathrow Airport, it’s connected to the world.

It’s not all plain sailing for those in the industry, with situations such as those in China, where strict measures have disrupted logistics, presenting challenges. However, Salguero was optimistic that “challenging times mean opportunities,” with AIA “trying to optimise those across China and other regions.”

What’s next

With IT investment, a strong team, good planning and proactivity, AIA is hoping to expand as the market grows. While demand in the air cargo sector has, as expected, slowed in recent months, AIA “anticipated it and adapted very well” to enjoy “very positive results.”

As new capabilities, technology, commerciality and sustainability change the sector, AIA is looking at additional outsourcing opportunities and synergies to keep evolving and growing over the coming year and beyond.

“We are a very well balanced financially strong company and clearly identify and follow our revenue and costs quarterly and annual targets according to the market,” Salguero explained. “ We have hired new staff across all our countries and departments this year growing our local operations, sales, customer service, operations, resources, IT, marketing and management structures.”


Air Astana grew in 2022 with new routes and aircraft

AIR Astana, Kazakhstan’s national airline, continued to grow in key areas in 2022. In the 20th year since the company was founded, the airline has put three new Airbus A321LRs into service and now operates ten aircraft of this type. FlyArystan, a low-cost sister company of Air Astana, also invested in new aircraft and added four additional Airbus A320neo aircraft.

The Air Astana Group operates a total of 42 aircraft with an average age of around five years – one of the youngest fleets in international air traffic. Six more new jets are to follow in 2023, while the first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will join Air Astana in 2025. The agreement with Air Lease Corporation provides for the takeover of a total of three of these

Global aviation traffic to reach pre-pandemic levels by June

THE aviation sector is set to thrive in 2023 with global traffic to reach pre-pandemic levels by June, according to a paper published by international aircraft leasing company Avolon. After a 70% recovery in passenger traffic last year led by recovery in Europe and North America, Asia will drive growth in 2023, helped by the recent reopening in China.

The traffic recovery brought the sector back to the brink of profitability in 2022, after combined sector losses of $180 billion in 2020 and 2021. A profit of $4.7 billion is forecast for 2023 as recovery continues.

“Aviation has demonstrated its resilience and is ready to thrive having come through a pandemic-driven two-thirds drop in traffic. Airlines, manufacturers, and lessors share an ecosystem that creates opportunities for all but requires collaboration to overcome key challenges including a higher interest rate environment, limited aircraft availability and the need to make further progress on decarbonisation goals.”

“The rebound in 2022 is set to continue in 2023, with China’s reopening helping to drive global traffic levels to pre-pandemic levels by June. Airlines are enjoying higher fares and load factors, and manufacturers are under pressure to ramp up production quicker. Whilst geopolitical and macroeconomic risks remain, this is a positive environment for lessors as supply constraints drive higher lease rates and increase the value of order books.”

The paper makes seven forecasts: China drives global passenger traffic to 2019 levels by June; manufacturers delay delivery rate targets by a year; A330ceo market lease rates increase by 35%; airline consolidation to accelerate as new airline start-ups slow; two investment grade lessors will receive rating upgrades; two electric aircraft manufacturers are acquired; the volume of Sustainable Aviation Fuel under offtake agreements doubles.


Along with the fleet expansion, Air Astana and FlyArystan have also expanded their networks in 2022., including scheduled flights to Heraklion and Bodrum. In addition, flights from Almaty to Bangkok and Beijing were resumed. The airline now serves a total of 27 international routes and 15 domestic routes. In 2023, Tel Aviv and Medina are expected to be new destinations.

In 2022, flights from Aktau to Baku and Istanbul, among others, were added to the flight schedule, while routes such as Shymkent-Kutaisi, Aktau-Dubai and Shymkent-Dubai returned. As a result, FlyArystan’s network now includes eight international routes and 26 domestic routes.

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Striving to make BRUCargo the most attractive, efficient, innovative and successful logistical platform, Air Cargo Belgium (ACB) has had to adapt to an ever changing and increasingly competitive airfreight world.

Having been founded in 2016, the cargo community organisation at Brussels Airport has played an important role in the development of the European hub in recent years. “The strength of Air Cargo Belgium (ACB) as an innovative cluster of 150 companies is cooperation. In different steering groups we bring together the different stakeholders in our industry. Airlines, forwarders, ground handlers and trucking companies work together to bring innovation to the air cargo industry,” Geert Keirens, director of ACB, stated.

To stay ahead, ACB has worked to identify the areas that are key to successful cargo operations, maximising the opportunities within the space to grow for the benefit of the BRUcargo community. “We do this by launching projects on digitisation, sustainability, pharma, operational excellence, and other topics important for our supply chain. By bringing together air cargo specialists and motivated young potentials we create a unique ecosystem that results in solutions that would not be possible on company level. We can introduce innovations much faster than in other airports with a high success rate,” Keirens added.

Building up Brussels

The success of the partnership in Brussels was seen during the Covid pandemic, when ACB and Brussels Airport joined forces in the BRUcure task force to facilitate the safe and efficient import and export of Covid vaccines by air. By doing this Brussels Airport became the number one airport in Europe for the vaccine distribution worldwide, shipping over 2 billion units to more than 120 countries. “In this way, we are making our contribution to people’s general health and welfare and to solving the current worldwide pandemic,” Keirens highlighted.

It hasn’t always been smooth for the organisation or its partners, with the whole air cargo industry having faced a turbulent time in recent years. In the Brussels Airport region specifically, ACB has seen several constraints and bottlenecks that could jeopardise

future development.

“Mobility, an airport embedded in a very populated area and close to Brussels, a very difficult job market with insufficient labour force and talent to cope with the growth of the business are a few of the challenges we have,” Keirens explained. However, with strategic future planning, vision and cooperation within its community and at Brussels Airport, they hope to tackle the challenges better and faster than other regions.

Ever changing environment

With the market becoming more competitive, international challenges and new opportunities have reshaped the industry. As mentioned previously, digitalisation and sustainability are two of the topics at the forefront of ACB’s thinking. “We think that both go hand in hand and should be part of the same roadmap,” Keirens stated.

At ACB, the organisation has supported the set up and rollout of the Brussels Airport data sharing platform BRUcloud. All air cargo stakeholders share data on this platform by creating and using applications to support and steer the operational processes. In 2022, ACB implemented a Digital Green Lane together with Brussels Airport for the handover process of cargo between forwarders and air cargo handlers at the airport. “Better utilisation of resources and huge reduction in waiting times are the result of this innovation. Community dashboards on quality, operational performance and sustainability are a tool to benchmark performance, but more importantly, they support the continued improvement and progress towards our goals,” Keirens said.

“Global warming keeps the world awake at night, so even more in our industry. The roadmap towards zero CO2 emissions is a thorough one and needs more changes in a few years/ decades than we have ever seen,” Keirens explained. ACB is part of a European project: STARGATE with Brussels Airport as project leader and lighthouse airport to bring changes and solutions towards the climate goals. “With ACB, we focus on the air cargo roll and supply chain in this by using digitalisation to optimise processes, capacity, use of assets and electrification. We share our lessons learned and roadmap with Athens and Budapest, two

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“Global warming keeps the world awake at night, so even more in our industry”

partner airports within Stargate.”

The path forward

As an industry, those across the airfreight sector need the environment to be able to operate internationally, growing to meet the needs of a global economy. However, sometimes that conflicts with (short term) plans of governmental bodies. Looking forward, ACB hopes to mitigate this insufficient approach from governments through lobbying and consultation. “The regional differences in legislation and regulation sometimes make it difficult when being part of a worldwide transport system that needs to operate as one. A more central, European approach would result in more stability and a level playing field,” Keirens proposed.

At ACB, they strongly work together with the local Brussels Airport cargo community, but also on a regional and international level, meaning that cooperation and collaboration is crucial. “In Belgium, we cooperate with Liege and Ostend when it comes to national issues or responsibilities like new customs systems. But we also share knowledge on digitalisation. Within Europe we share views and ideas with other air cargo communities like AMS, FRA and CDG. In 2023 we will set up a project on sharing driver data to facilitate the security process,” Keirens said.

Fluctuating demand has raised some concerns within the airfreight sector. However, ACB was quick to highlight that, while volumes are down since October compared to 2021, they are still significantly up compared to 2019. “Thanks to the innovation brought and the pivotal role we played during the pandemic we have seen our volumes grow faster than other airports in recent years, and also the downward trend is less steep. But 2023 volumes are expected to go down further, so adapting to the situation is a must,” Keirens stated.

Focusing on the future, Keirens was clear that the key to growing cargo volumes is a clear stategy: focus and innovation. “Not only the volumes are important. Airfreight is a premium product in transport so a focus on added value of our services, speed and reliability is key.”




Astral Aviation enters into strategic partnership with Air Logistics Group

Astral Aviation has entered into a strategic partnership with Air Logistics Group as it gears up for growth in 2023.

The new commercial partnership with Air Logistics Group will enable Astral Aviation to offer more opportunities to its clients in Kenya, Europe, and the USA, with the objective of increasing marketshare for its new perishables service into Europe and having additional online capacity for Astral’s cargoes from Europe into Africa, according to Sanjeev Gadhia, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Astral Aviation.

Air Logistics Group has been appointed General Sales and Service Agent (GSSA) for Astral Aviation in Europe, United Kingdom (UK), and USA from the 1st of January 2023.

Global airfreight tonnages have shown no sign yet of a post-holiday season recovery in 2023, whereas last year there was already an upswing by the end of the first week, the latest preliminary figures from WorldACD Market Data indicate, consistent with a continued softening of market conditions.

Figures for week one (2nd to 8th January) show worldwide tonnages to be stable compared with the previous week, while last year in the same period an increase of 4% was observed. The underlying trend, therefore, seems to be a global weakening of demand. However, average rates held firm in the first week of 2023, showing an increase of 1% compared with the previous week, whereas last year a substantial decrease of -5% was recorded.

Comparing weeks 52 and one with the preceding two weeks (2Wo2W), tonnages decreased -27% below their combined total in weeks 50 and 51, with a -5% decrease in capacity, while average worldwide rates declined -3% – based on the more than 400,000 weekly transactions covered by WorldACD’s data.

In this two-week period, tonnages were significantly down between all regions, as is common this time of year. Notable decreases were recorded between Europe and Central & South America (-34% eastbound, -44% westbound), between Europe and North

America (-34% eastbound, -42% westbound), between Europe and Africa (southbound -38%, northbound -27%) and between Europe and Asia Pacific (-34% eastbound, -15% westbound).

Year-on-Year perspective

Comparing the overall global market with this time last year, chargeable weight in weeks 52 and one was down -21% compared with the equivalent period last year, at -1% lower capacity. Notably, tonnages ex-North America are down by -29%, and ex-Asia Pacific tonnages are -26% below their strong levels this time last year. But there were also double-digit percent year-on-year drops on tonnages outbound from Europe (-18%) and Middle East & South Asia (-12%).

Overall capacity has fallen slightly (-1%) compared to the previous year and is down from Asia Pacific (-11%), Central & South America (-5%) and Europe (-2%), whereas from Africa (12%), North America (4%) and Middle East & South Asia (4%) capacity remains above its levels this time last year.

Worldwide rates are currently -28% below their unusually elevated levels this time last year at an average of $3.08 per kilo in week one, despite the effects of higher fuel surcharges, but they remain significantly above pre-Covid levels.

“We look forward to our partnership with Air Logistics Group, who will be responsible for promoting Astral Aviation in the strategic markets of Europe, UK, and USA, and will cover Astral’s intraAfrican scheduled network of 50 destinations which are served from its Nairobi Hub, in addition to new point-to-point destinations from its Liege Hub to Africa” Gadhia, said.

“We are confident of Air Logistics Group’s professionalism, expertise and neutrality to represent us in three of the key markets...and look forward to a new partnership.”

“Astral Aviation is an established and recognised quality airline operating to and from Europe and within key trade lanes in Africa,” Stephen Dawkins, CEO, Air Logistics Group, said.

“We are excited to connect our comprehensive network to theirs and to expand further the strong presence that Astral Aviation has in this region in the coming years.”