US broadcaster CBS is reporting that surveillance video from a FedEx Office store in South Austin, Texas assisted FBI and local Texas law enforcement officers “zero in on the person of interest who is now reportedly dead” in the hunt for a bomber who had caused the deaths of a young girl and a teenage orchestra star in the package bomb blasts that rocked Austin, Texas over recent days.
The news comes hours after FedEx confirmed that a package detonated at a San Antonio FedEx Ground facility early on Tuesday morning local time and that the individual responsible also shipped a second package that had been secured and turned over to law enforcement.
FedEx says: “One team member is being treated for minor injuries. We are working closely with law enforcement in their investigation. We are not providing any additional specific information about this package at this time.
“We are thankful that there were no serious injuries from this criminal activity. We have provided law enforcement responsible for this investigation extensive evidence related to these packages and the individual that shipped them collected from our advanced technology security systems. The safety and security measures in place across the FedEx networks are designed to protect the safety of our people, customers and communities, and to assist law enforcement as appropriate.”
Early on Wednesday morning, local time, CBS reported that Austin Police sources told them that the Austin bombing suspect “is dead after an officer-involved shooting on I-35 in Round Rock, Texas.”
Austin Police chief Brian Manley announced in a press conference early Wednesday morning that the suspect had killed himself after being encountered by police on Interstate 35 in Round Rock. In the previous 24 to 36 hours after multiple tips, a person of interest under investigation became a suspect — a 24-year-old white man who has not yet been identified. His car had been spotted at a hotel in Round Rock. After a chase, the suspect crashed his car then detonated a bomb inside, killing himself.
Frankfurt Airport has maintained its position as Europe’s busiest cargo airport, having handled just under 2.2 million tonnes in 2017.
Airport operator Fraport reports that volumes increased 3.8 per cent due to the economic upturn causing high demand for airfreight.
It says that the North American market developed positively and after a decline in the previous year, there was dynamic growth in transatlantic flights in 2017.
Cargo volumes grew year-on-year in every month of 2017, with March proving strongest at 10.5 per cent, apart from December, when volumes fell 5.1 per cent compared to 2016.
Fraport Group revenue for 2017 was up 13.5 per cent to €2.93 billion and though consolidated earnings were down 10.1 per cent to €360 million, the airport operator says that compared to adjusted 2016 figures, there was an increase of €60 million, up more than 20 per cent.
Fraport executive board chairman, Dr Stefan Schulte says: “In Frankfurt, the strategic decisions that we have taken are allowing us to benefit from considerable market growth once again, and we can look back on a very strong year indeed.
“Internationally, we achieved important milestones with the operational takeover of 14 Greek airports and the acquisition of two concessions in Brazil. With these developments, we are securing the Fraport Group’s long-term growth prospects, while diversifying our portfolio with a broader and stronger foundation for the future.”
Frankfurt’s monthly traffic figures for February have also been released, showing cargo increased by 3.2 per cent to 166,959 tonnes and in it handled 337,645 tonnes in January and February, an increase of 2.2 per cent.
Fraport has identified issues that could affect growth including capacity bottlenecks and the euro becoming more expensive, which it says could be why more cargo is being unloaded in Frankfurt and less is being loaded, something it has noticed in January and February.
Better utilisation of freighter aircraft has resulted in above average growth for the segment, though European tonnage dipped due to reduced flights via Moscow and tonnage to and from Africa was down due to fewer connections with Kenya.
Far East traffic increased 1.2 per cent helped by positive trade with countries including China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, particularly helped by higher frequencies to and from Osaka.
The Middle East was up nine per cent while North American tonnage grew 2.6 per cent and Latin America by 19.8 per cent.
Hong Kong Air Cargo has launched a ground transportation service for the local market to develop Hong Kong into a cargo transportation hub across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay area.
The ground service, Hong Kong Air Cargo Logistics will work in tandem with the cargo carrier, which since its establishment in 2017 has started operating cargo services from Hong Kong to Bangkok, Dhaka, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Taipei.
Freighter destinations include Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Dhaka, Almaty and Istanbul.
Hong Kong Air Cargo assistant chief executive, Zeng Meng says: “With the completion of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai-Macao bridge, the Shenzhen-Zhongshan bridge as well as the “Belt and Road” and the “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area” initiatives introduced by the Chinese Government, moving forward, Hong Kong Air Cargo will focus to develop a fully integrated transportation network in the Greater Bay Area including air cargo, ground transportation and warehousing services with an aim to build Hong Kong as the logistics hub.”
The airline says it is looking to expand its business and service customers in the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Gulf regions as new cross border opportunities come about through the implementation of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, “Integrated Development in the Greater Bay Area” and “Guangdong – Hong Kong – Macau Greater Bay Area”
It also says that these initiatives designed by the Chinese government provide great potential for Hong Kong to develop its all round cargo, logistics and warehousing services in the region.
E-freight is the word of the past, the future will consist of other technologies including big data, e-Cargoware chief executive, Ramesh Darbha (pictured) tells Air Cargo Week.
He points out the e-freight was defined more than a decade ago, based on the technologies of the time. Since then, new technologies including artificial intelligence, distributed ledgers and big data have arrived and are changing the way the air cargo industry operates and does business.
Darbha says: “Airfreight industry has to embrace digitisation at a faster pace starting with e-AWB and move onto digitising entire supply chain so we can provide end-to-end track & trace and reliability in delivery.”
Electronic air waybill (e-AWB) penetration rates have been a discussion point in the industry for some time, and though adoption rates are improving, they continue to miss targets set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Darbha welcomes the news that airfreight volumes increased nine per cent in 2017, describing it as “fantastic”, the penetration rates did not improve significantly and he is surprised that penetration in the Americas and Europe has lagged behind other continents.
The good news is e-AWB penetration broke the 50 per cent barrier and hit 53 per cent in January 2018.
Darbha says: “It would be good to see Europe and North Americas do some catch-up with the rest of the world on the digitisation route. E-AWB is no longer about just replacing paper air waybill, to attract e-commerce we must provide full end-to-end visibility and it starts with electronic air waybill.”
E-Cargoware is helping customers embrace new technology; along with e-freight compliance it provides API access to partner airline, handling and forwarder systems to integrate with clients in real time.
Darbha says: “We’ve launched a platform called fr8booking.com for the forwarders to quote, book and complete e-AWB for multiple Airlines. With some support from IATA and airlines in Europe and North America providing API access to eAWB360 platform and airline systems respectively, we could get Europe and North Americas get back on track of the digitisation route.”
The boom in e-commerce means the industry must embrace digitisation as customers demand real time track & trace, service reliability and on time delivery.
Darbha says: “Stakeholders should be open and accommodate real time data sharing between IT systems and API access. We must move away from using legacy, message based updating data between airline, handling, forwarding systems to real time on demand data updates using API. Underlying IT systems must be geared to support IATA StB [Simplifying the Business] initiative.”
E-commerce will not go away, and Darbha says this makes even more essential that the industry embraces e-freight and digital cargo.
He says: “With the likes of Amazons and Alibabas posing a threat to the incumbents, our industry realises the need to embrace the digitisation to stay in business. I expect a gradual in shift in focus from e-freight to digital cargo which has wider scope and is based on today’s technologies.”
Virgin Atlantic Cargo is to launch a second daily flight between London and Johannesburg, adding up to 24 tonnes of additional cargo capacity when services commence in October.
The new daily flight will be operated by a Boeing 787-9, which can carry up to 24 tonnes of cargo, helping to provide extra capacity with Virgin seeing business growing five per cent going to South Africa in 2017 and four per cent leaving Johannesburg.
In April, Virgin Atlantic Cargo will also open a local contact centre in Johannesburg to support customers in South Africa.
Virgin Atlantic Cargo director of sales, Steve Buckerfield says: “Virgin has been serving the Johannesburg market for 22 years and we continue to receive outstanding customer support. 2017 was a particularly strong year for both north and southbound cargo volumes, so the addition of a second daily frequency is great news for us and our customers.”
In addition to general cargo, Virgin has seen an increase in the volume of courier and express business from the US and the UK to South Africa driven by e-commerce.
Northbound traffic includes high volumes of perishables for the UK market as well as general cargo.
Virgin Atlantic Cargo regional sales manager in Johannesburg, Laurn Baldwin says: “News of this additional capacity could not be coming at a better time and reinforces our commitment to the South African market. Our decision to open a dedicated Contact Centre in Johannesburg is also based on having listened to the requirements of our customers, who value the presence of a local team.
“I am confident these positive developments, alongside our commitment to providing great customer service, will help us deliver another fantastic year for cargo.”