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John Menzies to cut workforce by 17,500 - 30 / 03 / 2020

Aviation group John Menzies has announced it has cut 17,500 jobs across the globe in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The UK-headquartered company, which offers ground handling, cargo handling and aircraft refuelling, has seen over the last two weeks number of flights it has handled drop by around 60%.

It added that the dynamics in the cargo sector are more mixed, with increases in activity in certain areas as freight customers seek to respond to underlying demand patterns, but overall cargo volumes are down by around 20%.

“Reductions are being supported in some countries by governmental schemes and we hope that in the fullness of time a high number of these employees can return to the business,” the company said.

The job cuts represent more than half of its workforce at 200 airports in 34 countries.

In addition, all directors and senior management have now taken 20% fee and salary reductions.

The company is also hoping to gain support from the UK government. Last week, the handler, along with three of its rivals, wrote to UK government warning that airport operations could grind to halt unless they were given support.

Giles Wilson, chief executive, said:“John Menzies plc has existed since 1833 and been listed since 1962 but never have we faced such difficult and unpredictable times.

“Our industry has been one of the most affected by Covid-19 and we are doing everything we can to reduce costs whilst looking after the needs of our employees.

“I now look to our Government to support our business and for them to provide the support required to help the UK aviation sector to navigate this crisis. For the aviation supply chain to function it requires a strong inter-reliant chain of airlines, airports and service providers.

“Without these three components of the supply chain,working together,the sector will not function. Handlers such as Menzies are therefore essential to the recovery and future success of the UK and global aviation industry.”

Emirates SkyCargo keeps supply chains moving despite pandemic - 30 / 03 / 2020

Emirates SkyCargo is continuing to facilitate supply chains across the globe, which are under pressure due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The carrier has implemented initiatives to transport essential cargo such as pharma products, medical supplies and perishables around the globe.

From mid-January to mid-March this year, Emirates SkyCargo transported more than 225,000 tons of cargo — 13,000 tons of which was pharma cargo, and 55,000 tons of which was food items including fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood, on its freighter aircraft and in the bellyhold of its passenger aircraft.

The carrier is also operating its fleet of 11 freighter aircraft on an increased number of scheduled flights, as well as on additional ad hoc and charter flights, in order to meet increased demand for airfreight capacity on a global scale.

Over the past two months, Emirates SkyCargo’s freighter fleet transported more than 50,000 tonnes of cargo including medical and food supplies. During one charter operation, Emirates SkyCargo transported almost half a million units sanitisers on a Boeing 777 freighter aircraft.

Emirates SkyCargo said it had ensured “the constant supply and replenishment of food products and medicines in Singapore”. Over the past two weeks, Emirates SkyCargo has operated seven freighter flights from Singapore.

The carrier also ran ad-hoc freighter services to destinations including Seoul, Taipei, Frankfurt, Milan and Casablanca.

Nabil Sultan, divisional senior vice president of Emirates SkyCargo, explained: “By operating our freighter fleet at full capacity with a combination of scheduled and ad-hoc operations, we are making sure that we can maintain the flow of goods such as medical and pharmaceutical supplies, equipment and food items to destinations where they are most needed across the world.”

Sultan added, “We’re also looking at more new and innovative ways to best serve our customers and the global markets and will continue to communicate with our customers on a daily basis to ensure our services are optimized to best support their needs in these challenging times.”

Qatar Cargo restarts bellyhold operations to China - 30 / 03 / 2020

Qatar Airways Cargo will resume scheduled bellyhold cargo operations to China with the utilisation of its passenger aircraft to six cities.

The additional cargo capacity is being added to the carrier’s existing freighter service amid “increased demand for the shipment of immediate goods in and out of the region”.

The bellyhold cargo flights will be operated on a turnaround basis assuming the routes’ previously assigned flight numbers and frequencies, without any cabin crew members or passengers on-board.

The six cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing and Hangzhou.  With an additional 600 tonnes of weekly capacity added, it brings Qatar’s combined weekly capacity out of the country to more than 1,300 tonnes.

Qatar Cargo said the decision to reinstate bellyhold service to six of its passenger destinations in the country is “in line with airline’s initiative to continue supporting worldwide connectivity, re-establishing the global supply chain, and meeting the market’s strong demand for freight exports and imports”.

Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “We are pleased to resume bellyhold cargo operations to China where the Covid-19 pandemic has been significantly contained and industrial production is restoring nationwide.

“In addition to our dedicated freighter service, the extra bellyhold availability leveraging the flexibility and reliability of our fleet will greatly enhance our cargo handling capacity in China to support market’s soaring demand for imports and exports, including the urgent outbound shipment of essential commodities, fresh produce, food products, and large proportion of medical supplies to other parts of the world that are currently facing the public health crisis.”

The move comes after China’s announced last week that it would boost the nation’s international airfreight capabilities, stabilise supply chains and enhance cooperation with global airlines.

Qatar Airways is the first Middle Eastern carrier to resume bellyhold operations to all of its destinations in China.

“With the upgraded capacity, more vital medical supplies and exports destined for the Middle East, Europe and the Americas will be flown by Qatar Airways’ efficient network via a seamless stopover at the cargo carrier’s world-class Doha hub,” the airline said.

TAC Index: Airfreight rates continue to increase - 30 / 03 / 2020

Airfreight rates on the main trade lanes out of China and between Europe and the US increased again last week as capacity is “rapidly” coming back into the market.

The latest figures from TAC Index show that average prices on services from Shanghai to North America last week increased by 15% on a week earlier to $6.59 per kg.

This a record on the route for the TAC Index (records began early 2016). The previous high was recorded in early November 2019.

Prices between Shanghai and Europe also reached a new high for the index, jumping by 25.9% on a week earlier to $5.15 per kg.

There were also records for the TAC Index on the transatlantic.

Between Frankfurt and North America there was a 40.3% week-on-week increase to $4.18 per kg. From Chicago to Europe there was a 13.1% increase to $2.33 per kg.

From Hong Kong to Europe there was a 15.6% increase to $4.01 per kg, another record, and to the US from Hong Kong the increase stood at 9.9% to $5 per kg.

The increases come as the industry has been managing a capacity crunch due to the grounding on passenger aircraft, which carry between 45-50% of cargo each year, in response to the coronavirus.

Individual forwarders have reported that they are paying even more than the TAC Index quoted average. Meanwhile, block space agreements and contracted deals are reportedly being torn up, while force majeure is being declared by forwarders.

However, derivatives broker Freight Investor Services has suggested that capacity is rapidly coming back into the market, offering the potential to overtake current demand. 

Carriers have launched a series of cargo flights using their passenger aircraft while Qatar Cargo has today announced it would resume bellyhold operations to China.

Boxship Dodges Pirate Attack South of Bonny Island - 30 / 03 / 2020

Liberia-flagged containership MV Lana escaped pirate hands on Friday, March 27, while sailing south of Bonny Island, Nigeria.

A skiff with six people on board attacked the ship and fired shots at the vessel, Dryad Global informed.

The attack took place 99 nautical miles south off Bonny Island, and 30 nautical miles south-east from the Engine Terminal.

“The vessel increased speed and conducted anti-piracy maneuvers. It is understood that the perpetrators were unable to board the vessel and were seen to withdrew heading east. The vessel and crew remain safe,” the incident report reads.

West African consultancy Praesidium International said its team had established contact with the vessel’s master, who confirmed that a speedboat with up to eight people on board attacked the ship.

The ship and the crew are safe and the vessel is proceeding to its next destination, which is Marocco.

The area where the attack occurred hasn’t seen much pirate activity, and according to Dryad, it is the first such incident to take place in 2020. Over the previous few days, several attacks were reported further west.

Maritime Employers Need to Take Vital Steps to Save Australian Supply Chains - 30 / 03 / 2020

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has urged major businesses in Australia’s maritime supply chain to implement “a consistent, industry-wide framework” aimed at preventing coronavirus transmission on worksites. With approximately 98 per cent of Australian imports arriving by sea, including essential medical supplies, food, fuel, and other household items, preventing the spread of this disease is vital to ensuring supply chains remain operational and freight continues to flow safely.

According to the trade union, some Australian businesses, particularly stevedores, have been reluctant to meet and discuss the current situation.

“While workers are acutely aware of the significant role they play in Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some stevedores had taken an unfortunate and unsustainable approach, going it alone rather than embracing a consistent industry-wide solution,” MUA National Secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin said.

“In other areas, such as intermodal and logistics, there has been a much more mature approach. That is why we are seeking to urgently meet with key businesses, in particular stevedores, to implement a clear, concise, consistent framework that addresses the identifiable health and safety risks this pandemic poses and acts on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer.”

“The scale of this crisis places a collective responsibility on our vital industry to show leadership, find consensus, and implement immediate solutions that protect lives and prevent potential disruptions to our national supply chain,” Crumlin added.

With thousands of maritime workers — including wharfies, seafarers and port workers — being on the front line, committed to ensuring supply chains continue to operate smoothly, the industry-wide measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on worksites are necessary, MUA believes.

“We are urging all maritime employers to work with us to implement these protocols to minimise the risk of infection to workers or the general public.”

The union’s proposed framework has been drawn together based on current health advice, along with industry developments internationally, with the aim of ensuring best-practice measures are in place to protect the health and safety of maritime workers.

Maersk Gjertrud Seafarers Suspected of Having Coronavirus - 30 / 03 / 2020

A number of seafarers on board the containership Gjertrud Maersk, owned by the world’s largest shipping company Maersk, have been evacuated from the ship and taken to a hospital for treatment after experiencing symptoms linked to Covid-19

The seafarers started showing symptoms on March 23 and were immediately isolated on the vessel, a Maersk spokesperson confirmed to our news desk.

“We are still awaiting the official report from authorities as well as the hospital. The safety and health of our people is our main priority and we are doing our utmost to provide the best possible care for our colleagues affected,” the spokesperson said.

The Danish-flagged 9,074 TEU containership was awaiting phasing into Maersk’s network and is currently idle at the quayside in Ningbo, China.

The shipping major is in close dialogue with local government authorities as well as port Authorities who are providing assistance in dealing with the situation. Maersk added that extra precaution measures will be taken for crew replacement and that sanitations will be implemented.

Stena Bulk About to Test Biofuel on Its MR Tanker - 29 / 03 / 2020

Swedish tanker shipping company Stena Bulk plans to test 100 % biofuel on one of its MR tankers in the coming weeks, joining its rivals in trialing biofuel as a solution for decarbonization of the shipping industry.

As informed, the fuel is the MR1-100 bio-fuel oil, produced from used cooking oil and supplied by GoodFuels in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

It has been bunkered onto the Stena Immortal and will be used to power the main engine in normal operations to test and prove the technical and operational feasibility.

“By doing this test we want to contribute to push the industry and pave the way towards more sustainable shipping,” says Erik Hånell, President and CEO Stena Bulk.

“We want to be able to offer our customers additional options with less environmental impact in the future and by conducting the trial in normal operations we want to show that being sustainable doesn´t have to interfere with core business.

Biofuels are compatible with regular fuels but produced from biomass or biowaste instead of fossil oil. While there are many kinds of biofuel Stena Bulk is only using the 2nd generation fuel, which are based on waste and do not compete with food production. In this case, the fuel is made from used cooking oil.

The reduction of CO2 by using this particular biofuel is estimated to be around 83%. The fuel also emits significantly lower levels of SOX than regular compliant fuels.

Stena Bulk said that during the trial it expects to cut emissions equaling 690 mt. The figures correspond to a life cycle perspective, i.e. including production and distribution of the fuel.

The Power-to-Fuel Project Wants to Convert CO2 into Carbon Neutral Fuel - 28 / 03 / 2020

A consortium led by the Swedish company Liquid Wind wants to establish commercial-scale facilities that would produce liquid, carbon-neutral fuel from captured carbon dioxide and green hydrogen from renewable electricity.

The fuels are intended to be used primarily by marine and road transport among others in the supply chain. Liquid Wind said it was in discussions with shipping companies and expects to sign purchase agreements for the fuel later this year. The Power-to-Fuel project will see companies Axpo, COWI, Carbon Clean Solutions, Haldor Topsoe, Nel Hydrogen and Siemens combine their expertise and technology.

The technology integration for the first facility in Sweden is being designed and the consortium aims to start supplying renewable methanol, i.e., eMethanol, from 2023.

The fuel is easy to store, transport and use.

The plan is to set up 6 facilities across Scandinavia by 2030, and then scale up and license the technology internationally.

The consortium wants to design a standardised eMethanol facility blueprint, captured as a ‘digital twin’, for efficient replication.

Each facility is scheduled to produce 45,000 tonnes of carbon-neutral fuel per year, enabling a reduction of 90,000 tonnes of CO2.

The facilities will capture waste carbon dioxide (CCU) and combine this with hydrogen, made from renewable electricity and water, to produce eMethanol.

The project has received EUR 1.7 million backing from EIT InnoEnergy, an investment body of the European Union.

“Industries and governments are making commitments to reduce their carbon emissions and operate in a more sustainable manner. To actually achieve this, we need to ensure that we have the necessary resources and infrastructure in place. With our passionate team and expert consortium Liquid Wind are excited to bring cost-competitive and scalable renewable fuel to market to meet this growing demand and enable a more sustainable future,” Claes Fredriksson, CEO & Founder of Liquid Wind, said.

Under the project, Axpo Nordic AS will handle power supply to the facility, Carbon Clean Solutions will provide its know-how on low-cost carbon dioxide capture technology, COWI will contribute with its competencies within engineering, economics and environmental science, while Haldor Topsoe will contribute its highly efficient methanol process, hardware and catalysts to the consortium.

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