In week 11 of the PLA global wrap, we take a look at some of the latest updates from MRO providers and conversion specialists Israel Aerospace Industries and Vallair, as well as the latest inter-airport cooperation across the Atlantic. We also look back at Emirates’ first cargo flight using its passenger aircraft.

Chicago Rockford International Airport and Köln Bonn Airport sign Cooperation AgreementChicago Rockford, Cologne Bonn Airport team up on e-commerce
Chicago Rockford (RFD) and Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) have signed an Airport Cooperation Agreement to optimise air cargo and to manage the needs of e-commerce and express carriers. The air cargo hubs aim to attract more cargo airlines, alleviate on-ground challenges and impact the movement of products quickly to final destinations. The airports expect to work on cutting-edge initiatives to develop handling systems for e-commerce cargo. RFD is the second largest UPS hub in North America and a base of operations for Amazon Air, whilst CGN is home UPS, FedEx, DHL and Amazon Air.

Emirates, TAP Air Portugal extend codeshare
Emirates and TAP Air Portugal have signed an MoU to expand the codeshare partnership currently in place between both airlines, with the addition of the Americas, North Africa and East Asia, and domestic connections in Portugal. Both airlines plan to support stopover programmes in Dubai and Lisbon, as the Latin carrier considers flying to Dubai. List of code-shared flights here.

Lufthansa pharma centres get certification

Lufthansa’s pharma centres in Munich and Chicago are now certified under CEIV Pharma, ensuring reliable handling and storage of urgent and temperature-sensitive shipments, including Covid-19 vaccines, with the highest international standard. The cold storage facility in Munich covers 1,000 square metres and was opened in August last year, whilst the hub at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, serving as Lufthansa’s central handling point for pharmaceutical products in the US, opened in June 2020. Both offer two different cooling areas (+2 to +8 °C and +15 to +25 °C) as well as a deep-freeze cell.

IAI, Aviatic to build aircraft centre in Lithuania
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed an MOU with Aviatic MRO UAB for an aircraft maintenance centre at the Siauliai Airport (SQQ) in Lithuania. The new site will provide MRO services, B737NG cargo conversions, as well as training, certification, and licensing of personnel. Aviatic will run the maintenance centre and interact with regulators, with operations scheduled to start in 2022 in what IAI calls an “innovative hangar.”

Vallair set to augment with new Châteauroux facility

MRO and modification specialist Vallair has signed a letter of intent for a 10-year lease for a state-of-the-art MRO and cargo conversion hangar in Châteauroux, France. The 8,500-sqm facility will be adjacent to its existing aerostructures repair and logistics facility, with capacity for four A321 aircraft, or in combination with A330s. It is expected to open by summer 2021 with around 200 jobs generated for Vallair and subcontractors. allair currently has seven aircraft scheduled for passenger-to-freighter conversions in Châteauroux, with another five expected over the coming weeks, the company said.

Emirates SkyCargo marks preighter anniversary
On 16 March, Emirates marked one year since it first introduced cargo only flights on passenger aircraft to transport PPE and other essential supplies amidst a pandemic. The first preighter flight EK 2503 bound for Kuwait on 16 March last year saw a B777-300ER passenger aircraft with no passengers on board, only about 34 tonnes of bellyhold cargo that was urgently required. Since then, the carrier has operated more than 27,800 preighter flights in one year, carrying around 100,000 tonnes of essential supplies– equivalent to 1,000 full cargo flights on a B777 freighter. Emirates currently operates 16 B777-300ER mini-freighters for cargo operations.

WFS to trial road feeder app to cut waiting times at BRU
Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) is working with the Brussels air cargo community to ‘eliminate’ waiting times for road feeder services (RFS) at the airport (BRU). In the next phase of the Brucloud project, developed by Air Cargo Belgium, Nallian, BRU and stakeholders, WFS will join the pilot of a road feeder management app that will allow automatic booking of flexible slots for cargo drop-offs and collections by trucking operators. The app adjusts according to the driver’s ETA and tracks the progress of the vehicle and gives the driver an updated time slot before it arrives at the cargo terminal. Trucking operators H.Essers, Jan de Rijk, Ninatrans and Wallenborn are participating in the pilot.

SpiceXpress takes multimodal approach for cargo to Spain
SpiceJet operated its first flight as part of a multimodal cargo transportation project in association with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services Company (AAICLAS) in line with India’s ‘Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav.’ 48 tonnes of cargo, including garments for a renowned global fashion brand, were transported by road and air from Dhaka to Spain. The consignment was shipped by road from Dhaka through Petrapole to Kolkata Airport and then flown to New Delhi on a SpiceXpress freighter. From there the A340 freighter transported the cargo to Spain.

Ex-GAMECO director Steve Chua joins Topcast
Steve Chua has joined Topcast as managing director, global MRO, where he will leverage on the company’s OEM distribution integration and MRO support solution to create value and lower life cycle costs for operators. He has more than 30 years in the aviation business, holding operations and executive posts with Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing, NORDAM, Triumph Aviation Services Asia in Thailand and most recently GAMECO in Guangzhou.


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