ACW Asia Pacific Supplement 22

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ASIA PACIFIC SUPPLEMENT

ACW Asia Pacific Supplement is sponsored by


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ASIA PACIFIC SUPPLEMENT

Your guide to the latest developments in the international airfreight industry

SAF PROMOTED IN THE ASIAPACIFIC REGION

ASIAPACIFIC LOOKS TO RECOVERY

AN INTERVIEW WITH ECS GROUP Noor Azizah, Regional VP Asia Pacific, ECS Group

30th June 22


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ASIA-PACIFIC LOOKS TO RECOVERY AS THE TIGER CUBS STIR There was before the COVID-19 pandemic every reason to imagine that the Asia-Pacific region had all the ingredients for airfreight success. With a rising and growing middle class, developing economies and industries that increasingly relied on the air freight supply chain and a population whose numbers kept on growing meant airlines serving the region could have been forgiven for thinking they had every reason to be succeed. How quickly things change. According to the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), the impact on airfreight was acutely felt in such a powerful manufacturing region. As the bulk of the airline fleet was grounded in early 2020, valuable cargo capacity was lost and consequently cargo rates increased. Exporters in the region seeking to send goods to markets in Europe, North America and elsewhere, were hit by a double whammy – rising rates for shipping just as demand in many global markets were stifled by lockdowns and business closures. In IATA’s most recent Air Cargo Market Analysis in March 2022, globally air cargo volumes fell to late-2020 levels. Asia-Pacific faced the Omicron wave spreading in China. The ongoing spread of Omicron in Asia, and China in particular, caused new lockdowns and labour shortages. These have strongly impacted manufacturing centres in China and Asia that in turn has hurt air cargo transport in markets linked the region, notes IATA. Sanctions against Russia disrupted manufacturing activity, seeing export orders diminish in Q1 2022 in Japan and Korea. Chinese export orders fell further below the 50- mark, which bodes poorly for air cargo markets supported by this primary manufacturing centre. In Boeing’s World Air Cargo Forecast 2020–2039, the region “represents 30% of the world population, providing vast market potential internally and externally. GDPs are growing and shifting because of increased consumption. Much of the world’s consumer goods are manufactured in Asia, creating both a supply base and demand base within the region. Additionally, economic and political conflicts with economies outside the region continue to support an entirely intra– East Asia and Oceania supply chain.” Over the last decade, despite the pandemic, the South Asia economy has continued to grow steadily. GDP in South Asia has grown 5%

per year since 2009 and continues to exhibit growth as a centre of the global population. As of 2019, South Asia contains nearly a quarter of the world’s population, with over 1.8 billion people, notes Boeing.

Tiger cubs DHL is bullish about the region now the pandemic is in general retreat around Asia-Pacific as it is in much of the world. The region’s prospects are good, considers the company. It points out: “By 2030, Asia is forecast to account for approximately 60% of all economic growth worldwide. Within the region, a group of five fast-developing economies are providing lucrative trading opportunities for international e-Commerce businesses.” Given the region’s big hitters have long been known as ‘Tigers’, it is no surprise these newcomers to the economic power of the region have been dubbed ‘tiger cubs.’ According to DHL, the World Economic Forum (WEF) declared: “In the nineteenth century, the world was Europeanised. In the twentieth century, it was Americanised. Now, it is being Asianised.” In Southeast Asia, five emerging markets are the ones to watch. Economists have dubbed these five countries ‘The Tiger Cubs’, in recognition of their proximity and similarity to the original ‘Tiger Economies’: Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. The Tiger Economies accelerated from primarily agrarian economies to fully developed, high-income industrialised nations in just a few decades between the 1950s and 1990s. And that’s exactly what the Tiger Cubs are doing today.” DHL notes that Indonesia is the biggest player – so much so that a number of organisations, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), think Indonesia’s turbocharged long-term growth warrants its inclusion in the BRIC countries (making it ‘BRIIC’). The airfreight industry flying to, from and within the region can now look to the rebuilding of trade and capacity in the years to come. Confidence is a delicate matter in business but those involved in Asian-Pacific trade are demonstrating they are putting the last two years behind them.

“Given the region’s big hitters have long been known as ‘Tigers’, it is no surprise these newcomers to the economic power of the region have been dubbed ‘tiger cubs”

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Adrien THOMINET, Executive Chairman

Robert VAN DE WEG, Chief Commercial Officer

Noor AZIZAH, Regional VP Asia Pacific

AN INTERVIEW WITH ECS GROUP “Another global lesson learned from the last twoand-a-half years is the importance of agility and innovation”

We asked three senior executives at Paris-based GSSA ECS Group Adrien Thominet, executive chairman; Noor Azizah, regional VP Asia Pacific; and Robert Van De Weg, chief commercial officer - about the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the group’s activities. After all the turbulence the airfreight industry has undergone since 2020, they consider the importance of the airfreight business to the region and how events have shown the need to change processes and the industry as a whole. Compared with the rest of your worldwide system, how did Asia-Pacific experience COVID-19? What lessons might be learned by ECS Group from the last two-and-a-half years? Robert Van De Weg This difficult period allowed us to grow and we really learned from it. We created more synergies in regional offices linking them all to ensure better coordination by creating a “Control Tower.” Despite regular virtual discussions during COVID-19, we succeeded by working as a team, sharing information and working towards new business potential.

Adrien Thominet Another global lesson learned from the last two-and-a-half years is the importance of agility and innovation. Turbulent periods are also full of paradigm shifts and you really need to innovate and think outside the box to adapt to the new needs that emerge during these periods. The last few years have also shown the importance of the airfreight business and the need to change processes and the industry as a whole. Where does Asia-Pacific fit in your global network as an airfreight Origin & Destination? Robert Van De Weg Asia-Pacific represents 30% of our organisation. It is an important part of our global network and key strategic region for ECS Group. Noor Azizah Singapore is strategically positioned in the region to conduct business in a safe and transparent way making it a perfect location for a regional office.

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SINGAPORE IS A GREAT PLACE FOR BUSINESS FOR AIR CARGO SOUTHEAST ASIA “Singapore is a hub for regional events and has the facilities to match up.”

AZura International recently inked a deal with MMI Asia to be sales agent for transport logistic and air cargo Southeast Asia in 2023. We have a Q&A with the man in charge of the event, Michael Wilton, CEO and managing director of MMI Asia Pte Ltd, a direct subsidiary of Messe München GmbH. ACW: Is your event Singapore-based or has it moved between cities in the past? Wilson: This is the first edition in Southeast Asia, and it will be held in Singapore. The Southeast Asian edition of air cargo is part of the leading series of air cargo shows which includes China (Shanghai), India (Mumbai), and of course the mother show in Europe held in Munich. ACW: What does Singapore offer you as an event holder? Wilson: Singapore is a hub for regional events and has the facilities to match up. The venues, infrastructure, ease of business and accessibility of Singapore makes it a very attractive location for regional and international events in Southeast Asia. As an event organiser, we also look at where the industry is located and where would be the most convenient for participants to attend. Singapore is a regional air cargo and logistics hub, as well as hosting regional and international HQs of many of the world’s largest shippers. Decisions on supply chains and logistical challenges are made in Singapore. Therefore, Singapore offers the regional market an easy access while bringing maximum value to the industries the show will serve. ACW: What do you consider your attendees will get out of coming to the city-state? Wilson: The air cargo and freight service providers will undoubtedly get the chance to meet with the decision makers of regional shippers in Southeast Asia. Businesses that are looking for solutions to their logistic problems will also benefit from first hand exposure to the very best service and solution providers in the industry. Beyond the show halls, attendees will benefit from a Singapore that is safe, easy to access and one of the most vibrant, diverse and interesting cities of the world. Singapore has come through the challenging ‘pandemic years’ as a leader in providing the security and confidence to conduct business and launch growth potentials. Over the years Singapore has developed into a logistics centre of excellence. This of course has attracted the largest logistics operators in Asia to set up shop here, and seed REITs (Real Estate Investment Trust) that own logistics assets. Not limited to logistics and airfreight, but all businesses set up in Singapore benefit from stable, progressive, and developed legal systems and supportive government policies as well. Singapore is a great place for business and pleasure, and both will be high on the agenda come show time! ACW: Is there anything unique about Singapore that airfreight executives can benefit from? Wilson: Singapore has been built around standardised and common place international legal, business, and cultural practices that ensure international trade is easy, efficient, and profitable. As the major logistics hub in the region Singapore not only acts

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as a gateway to the rest of Southeast Asia but also provides airfreight executives with an ecosystem of the very best providers, solutions, and enablers of best practices. In an ASEAN region with different languages, cultures, currencies, legal frameworks, and demographics, Singapore with its global standardisations, can help shippers by facilitating airfreight to the whole region and beyond. A standout indicator of Singapore’s importance and excellence as a logistics hub is that it ranks No.1 out of 136 countries globally in the Enabling Trade Index (ETI). This demonstrates that executives looking for solutions that facilitate the flow of goods over borders Singapore is the best place in the world to meet, learn and discover the processes from those that enable this ranking. ACW: What is your background in the city? If you live there, how long have you settled in Singapore? Wilson: I moved to Singapore in the summer of 2020, no doubt a very interesting and challenging time to be relocating and attempting to settle in a new country. I am accustomed to living in Southeast Asia having spent four years in Bangkok. However, this current period has made transition a little more difficult. As restrictions ease, borders have opened and life returned to normality, Singapore is quickly revealing itself to be a fantastic place to live and raise a family - I am here with my wife and two children. We are all looking forward to the future this vibrant, multicultural and exciting city holds for us! ACW: How important is it that the city-state has one of the busiest and most important air cargo gateways in the world on the event’s doorstep? Wilson: This, of course, is an important factor in determining the best location for an air cargo exhibition. It is the rest of the industry that this ‘gateway’ brings that really adds value to the attendees of our exhibition. The major air cargo and freight service providers are already here in Singapore, as mentioned before, so are the decision makers for the main shippers in the region. In addition, local support for this event to take place and act as the focal point for the industry in the region is strong. The CAG (Changi Airport Group), SATS, CAAS (Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore) and the SAAA (Singapore Air Cargo Agents Association) have all confirmed their strong support for the event and have formed part of the event’s advisory board. This enthusiasm, need and desire for air cargo to come to Singapore are also important factors in the decision to run the show here. ACW: Will the event be predominately Asian in terms of attendees or will visitors come from around the world? Are there any issues remaining on Chinese visitors being able to attend? Wilson: The show will focus and be themed around the key issues facing the Southeast Asian market. Therefore, naturally the show will be predominantly attended by these countries. However, of course, the industry by its nature is international so there are some real benefits for exhibitors and visitors globally to attend the show, especially if they have business interests in this region or are looking to expand their network in Southeast Asia. For the Chinese attendees we have seen in Europe, although a


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vastly reduced number, have still attended our tradeshows. Equally in China there is this understanding that nothing can match face-to-face business contact, and businesses are keen to get back to this practice, particularly at industry events. Southeast Asia is scheduled for September 2023, by which time we would anticipate at least some easing of travelling restrictions currently facing potential Chinese visitors. Naturally we will be working with our partners in China to ensure their participation is as fruitful as it can be. ACW: Is it possible to see the return of face-to-face events as a return to normal? Wilson: My short answer to this is - Yes. I have recently come back from a visit to one of Messe München’s largest global shows, IFAT, which hosted 2,894 exhibitors and 119,000 visitors from 155 countries. For me this was a clear indication that not only are shows returning to normal but society is accepting that Covid is in the rear-view mirror. Asia is also witnessing the return of the large events that we last witnessed pre-covid. This too is an indication that Asia is moving in the same direction, and a form of normalcy is returning. The term ‘normal’ also raises an interesting question. The world is a different place to what we saw in 2019. People are desperate to return to in-person interactions, whether that’s for business or leisure. The desire for face-to-face has grown every week of lockdowns and restrictions. Trade shows and live events like air cargo Southeast Asia are the platforms for industries and business communities to get “back together again” and conduct business in person rather than over a screen. This has raised the value of participating at these events. I would, maybe, describe this as an enhanced normal we are beginning to experience. The way that companies conduct business has changed. We as event organisers will adapt our events with ‘digital enhancements’ to ensure the event provides maximum value to the attendees of the show. So not quite ‘normal’ as in the same as before, but an exciting

new period of opportunities for participants at events. ACW: Any other thoughts on the event you would like to share? Wilson: Another lesson that has been learnt from the last few years is just how valuable and precious everyone’s time is. Trade shows like air cargo Southeast Asia enable businesses to experience a full spectrum of solutions and market knowledge in one trip rather than multiple, drawn out, international visits to multiple potential customers. For air cargo Southeast Asia we have created participation packages that go one stage further and make it as easy and less time consuming to exhibit as possible. We understand the challenges that exhibitors face to build their stand and present their company to a standard they expect. Our specialised and tailored service give the exhibitors a choice; they will be able to arrive at their stand with nothing other than their laptops and business cards. Their stand will be pre-built, complete with graphics, logos, company branding and AV equipment, all ready to go. Of course, should companies wish to build their own custom booth they will have the option to do so. The pandemic has realised some of our fears about global supply chains that were beginning to show cracks even before Covid spread through the world. This is now driving the current conversations on local resilient supply chains (in addition to the globally integrated ones) that are anything but transitory. At this juncture it’s impossible to overstate the importance of transport logistics and air cargo. Delegates and attendees will get to experience the industry first-hand at air cargo Southeast Asia and walk away able to make better decisions impacting their future. air cargo Southeast Asia will provide unprecedented access to the region and enable all participants to meet, discuss, learn, network, and experience the very latest solutions in the air cargo industry. We of course look forward to welcoming you to Singapore!

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(continues from page 4)

“In Asia, relationships, networking and close contact with business partners and freight forwarder customers remain the keys to success”

China remains in a much slower rebound than many parts of the world from COVID-19. How is this impacting ECS Group?

Are there any countries in the region that you are planning to expand into in the next few years?

Noor Azizah The trade lanes we manage from China are less affected as we work on niche destinations; in any case, overall activity in China is reduced but had started to return to normal in May.

Adrien Thominet Indeed, we have network expansion plans that consider the Northeast of the region and Japan as having the greatest dynamic potential.

Do your clients have much intra-Asia traffic or is it really all about taking cargo to or from the region? Robert Van De Weg Intra-Asia traffic is one of our main strengths. We have direct capacity from our current regional carriers and demand still continues to grow with charters ongoing, both intra-Asia and internationally. Noor Azizah The opportunity for our clients is access to a hub connecting transit cargoes to destinations that are not served in the origin countries. It is a real added value. Have you come across the so-called ‘Tiger Cubs’, Southeast Asia’s five emerging markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam? Do they feature on your radar for future growth prospects? Robert Van De Weg ECS Group is present in Cambodia, China (with Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and recently Korea with GAC. We have a strong presence in these Tiger Cubs countries that is reflected in our double digit growth in these countries. Noor Azizah We have already a very strong presence in Vietnam and Thailand and indeed we have a special look on those five markets. How would you describe airfreight GSA competition to and from the region? Noor Azizah In Asia, relationships, networking and close contact with business partners and freight forwarder customers remain the keys to success. In southeast Asia, where every country has its own way of working, systems and/or procedures, add that with its own cultural ways or traditional values and we have a very interesting mix to understand how business is conducted in these areas. Respecting each other’s cultures and values is a must. Trust must be earned and developed over time and this can only come with the willingness to have a work hard mentality with hands-on support to achieve the desired business goals. At ECS Group, we cater solutions to our principal partners and work in transparency to achieve their goals and objectives. Our expertise, experience, trust and strength are key as the airlines, especially now, are looking for reliable, good, strong and healthy background GSA. ECS Groups fits in these categories and demonstrated it during the pandemic.

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What would you say were the main products your clients are flying into and out of the region? Noor Azizah Our strategy to develop the business of our customers lies in the diversification of the products transported. All products such as perishables, dangerous goods, electronics, RMG (ready-made-garments), semi-conductors, vehicles, aircraft parts, oil parts and equipment are moving regularly on our clients’ flights on either freighter or passenger aircraft. The mix of products is important to achieve good revenue on each flight. Are you seeing much use of SAF by you clients in the region? Robert Van De Weg We are at a very early stage of SAF utilisation with our customers as it is not easy to implement. What is the future for GSA activity in the region from your point of view? Robert Van De Weg More airlines are now open to have a GSA running their operations and functions. I believe that more GSAs will be appointed especially for new airlines to minimise administrative and costs issues and to offer them a presence in some regions they are not yet established. Adrien Thominet There is a real trend since COVID-19 to outsourcing. Airlines prefer to focus on more “strategic” aspects that they can only manage internally. This outsourcing trend is here to stay because the business and economic model it offers to airlines is very logical. This is where the expertise of a GSA comes in, being able to take care of certain aspects for its customers in a logic of efficiency and profitability. With All-In, one of the abilities developed at ECS Group, we cover the full scope of cargo processes from sales, marketing, revenue optimisation, operations (network operations as well as quality, safety and security), interline management, handling of claims, all the way through to chartering operations. And thanks to our worldwide presence, we can cover the entire network of our customers, wherever they are flying. Today, GSAs are not solely responsible for selling air cargo space. Increasing cargo volumes, the pandemic, and industry changes are driving GSAs to reinvent themselves. We need to go beyond the traditional missions to be able to offer more to the customers. This is the basis of our “Augmented GSA” strategy at ECS Group and our abilities, which are modular and “à la carte” to really adapt to the demand and specificities of each client.


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AFKLMP CARGO PROMOTES SA THE REGION

“It is well known that in a few parts of the world, particularly in the Greater China region, Hong Kong and Taiwan continue to maintain sanitary rules related to COVID-19”

Bénédicte Duval is at the helm as vice-president intercontinental area at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo as the region enjoys a mixed recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Not that this fazes the airfreight professional. She says: “The COVID-19 experience has been diverse, and still is, across Asia. Some countries have recovered a more normal pace on their trades, whereas others are still facing major disruptions, like China for example. This also indirectly impacts a few markets and creates quite a variation in flows in terms of weights, volume but also products. All market segments have had to demonstrate an ability to be more selective in moving the ‘best cargo’ on different routes and/ or destinations.” AFKLMP Cargo is utilising passenger capacity on the occasions when no passengers are allowed to travel because of strict governmental sanitary measures in certain nations in the region. Grounding of passenger aircraft is creating a lack of airfreight capacity on the regional market, creating a huge gap between offer and demand and resulting in rate increases. Duval notes that digitalisation of the company’s offer, its booking process, its quotation tool, including specialised products, provides an efficient and in real time answer to customers in Asia-Pacific seeking airfreight solutions. This was important even when work at home was mandatory. She says: “It is well known that in a few parts of the world, particularly in the Greater China region, Hong Kong and Taiwan continue to maintain sanitary rules related to COVID-19. As a result, our passenger flights are affected and consequently this has a knock-on effect on our cargo business. “The biggest lesson learnt from the ever-changing situation is that there is a lot that is unknown. We need to remain agile and think on our feet, the same way as we did when COVID-19 was at its peak and there was a great need to arrange transportation of medical and hygiene products like masks, surgical gowns, gloves, glasses and test kits.”

China air-bridge Air France Cargo mobilised its B777F, while KLM Cargo deferred the phase-out of its B747 Combi in order to create an air-bridge between

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China and the rest of the world during the early days of the pandemic. This was followed by the quick introduction of the B777 passenger aircraft for cargo-only purposes, including the use of the cabin for transportation of emergency medical equipment. She says: “We are very proud to have shipped more than 125 million face masks, five million test kits and over 25 million tonnes of relief goods from Greater China where we performed close to 200 Cargo-in-Cabin flights. “Together with our partners we have shipped over 250 temperature-controlled Pharmaceutical units containing the Chinese Covid vaccines, to countries in South America and Africa, saving millions of lives across the continents. “Capacity was of course very limited resulting in a shortage in the market. We and our customers learned that air cargo remains crucial in these kinds of circumstance and that it is simply necessary to fulfil the supply chain. From the basics, our ‘skeleton cargo network’, we built a robust network which was predominantly cargo-driven. From there, we slowly started to fly passengers again. Both cargo and passengers became very complementary to each other again.”

Relief goods Asia-Pacific, as well as some of the other Asian countries, saw a huge demand for relief goods to Europe during the pandemic, followed by a strong pressure due to capacity shortage. One of the main lessons learned for AFKLMP Cargo during this period was that conventional processes with regard to scheduling, contracting and other items with traditionally long throughput times did not work anymore. This forced it to develop much more flexible and faster business processes, Duval considers. While indeed tonnages are lower than the pre COVID-19 period in the region, as they are globally, Asia-Pacific remains very well positioned in terms of revenue contribution. China remains in a much slower rebound than many parts of the world. Is this impacting on AFKLMP Cargo? “The COVID-19 situation is still creating a lot of disturbance on the Greater China market performance. Not only does it affect the China activity but it has also some side consequences to the surrounding countries that rely on China for raw material importations. “As I said, our cargo capacity is currently restricted due to the sanitary policies applied by the Chinese authorities. However, we are convinced that this is bound to change sooner than later. We are readying ourselves to play a vital role, a cog so to speak, in smoothly connecting the supply chain and distribution of goods around the world.”


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sector and the whole ecosystem is working hard to make some significant progress on this in the near future. Duval notes: “Korea is still at the beginning of this topic and Japan is starting to focus on this matter. We do not see as much use of SAF in Asia as there is interest. Our customers have not just shown interest towards sustainable transportation, they have actually committed to it via our Cargo SAF programme. “In early 2021, we were the first airline that collaborated with five local Chinese forwarders who took up the mandate and contributed towards sustainable flying from Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong. We extended the customer outreach towards our SAF programme with the signing of an additional multi-year contract, taking the total customers who have committed to six from China alone. “Definitively, sustainability in air logistics is getting much more important. In the Middle East we already have five SAF contracts.” What of the future for airfreight in the region from AFKLMP Cargo’s point of view? She concludes: “Airfreight will remain a strategic business for the coming years. After all, Asia continues being the world’s ‘factory’.”

“Competition is fierce between local carriers and international carriers”

Have the Tiger cubs bitten? When asked, Duval acknowledges that the airline has not come across to describe Southeast Asia’s five emerging markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. She notes: “It is not a term we have heard, but our Southeast Asia market is fully focused on those countries where the demand is rising. We have been adapting our internal organisation to better serve our customers in that region, in order to offer them the best service while connecting them to our worldwide network. “These are all very important markets for us, which is underlined by the long history that we have as a carrier in these markets. Even during COVID-19 we have continued to serve these markets for the majority of the pandemic and they will continue to be an important part of our global network. “Competition is fierce between local carriers and international carriers. This competition can even be distorted considering the countries and the support given to local carriers by local governments.” A knock-on from the military action in the Ukraine is that Middle East carriers are providing large capacity on most markets, including the Asia-Pacific region. She says: “From North Asia, many competitors are not impacted by avoiding Russian and Ukraine airspace, which has limited our payloads due to increased flying times,” Important for AFKLMP has always been to offer a global network to the rest of the world with connections to its two hubs (AMS and CDG), the trucking stations in EU and the overseas destinations in Americas and Africa. “Competition is increasing again in the region as extra belly capacity is being added as result of increasing passenger demand. However, capacity has not yet returned to its pre-COVID-19 levels. Any expansion will be driven by a combination of passenger and cargo opportunities. “Dominant products from most markets are express goods, including spares, and Pharmaceutical, including raw material, semi-finished and finished products, Regionally we also see a variety of automotive, machinery, high tech, telephone, tablets, computers, semiconductor, e-commerce and garments,” notes Duval.

SAF in the region? More and more of AFKLMP’s customers are following the organisation in its sustainable aviation leadership and are signing SAF contracts. The production of SAF remains a challenge to the fuel

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