HONG KONG's Asia Airfreight Terminal (AAT), the airport's second ground handler, posted four per cent year-on-year increase in March cargo volume to 65,929 tonnes, the company announced.

March exports increased five per cent to 47,270 tonnes year on year while imports were up four per cent to 18,114 tonnes with transshipments falling 21 per cent to 545 tonnes.

Year to date, cumulative export tonnage from January to March was 113,665 tonnes, up 0.1 pr cent year on year. Total import tonnage for first quarter was 53,181 tonnes, up five per cent. Transshipments fell 19 per cent year to date to 1,553 tonnes.

"The tonnage in March saw slight improvements. Nevertheless, we are cautious of the challenges ahead," said AAT corporate development chief Kenneth Yeung.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

TAIWAN's Mandarin Airlines has launched direct flights between Wenzhou, a city in eastern Zhejiang province, and Taipei, reports Xinhua.

An E90 aircraft carrying 97 passengers took off from Wenzhou Yongqiang Airport at 1322 hrs, marking the inauguration of the twice weekly service.

The direct route takes 80 minutes, making it the shortest between the mainland and Taiwan. Previous routes, via cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou, took six hours, according to a statement from Yongqiang Airport.

Twenty thousand people travelled from Taiwan to Wenzhou last year as tourists, visiting relatives or on business with 30,000 from Wenzhou going to Taiwan at the same time.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

IBERIA pilots are staging on-again off-again Monday and Friday strikes to protest the entry of cut-rate subsidiary airline from entering the market.

The strikes have resulted in Spain's largest airline suspending 156 flights from the first of the week, reports the Prensa Latina news agency.

Strikes will continue on Mondays and Fridays until July 20, which have resulted in 148 routes being cancelled for April 13 and another 152 for April 16, according to Iberia.

The pilots, members of the Spanish Union of Airline Pilots (SEPLA), who already staged 12 strike days between December and February, have now announced their new walkout schedule.

SEPLA opposes Iberia Express, a low-cost subsidiary that started up short- and medium-range flights on March 25.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

AIR INDIA is seeking to expand its ticket sales and distribution network globally by appointing general sales agents (GSA) in 56 countries, reports the Press Trust of India.

The GSAs would be appointed worldwide, sources told PTI, adding that strengthening of the distribution network across the globe would help the carrier boost its international sales.

They would have an initial contract for five years, which would be subject to review every year.

Following the 2008 global downturn and mounting losses, the cash-strapped airline had shut down a large number of its overseas offices (operated by the airline itself) to cut costs.

Keeping the high costs of running a full-fledged office in many countries, this time round, the airline is going for more GSAs in these countries, the sources said, adding only 10 countries would have online offices.

But now with its much-awaited INR180 billion (US$3.5 billion) financial restructuring plan getting the nod from the State Bank of India-led consortium, Air India is trying to revive its fortune both by cutting costs and creating additional revenue streams.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

SUPPORTERS of the stalled China cargo hub at St Louis, Missouri, are sidestepping sceptical state legislators to revive the project, reports the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

St Louis County plans to create a US$3 million fund designed to induce freight flights to Lambert-St Louis International Airport after financial deal in which the county will pay for the freight incentives by diverting casino tax revenue from local flood-ravished street repairs for which it was earmarked, leaving the state to pay for that with federal flood relief funds.

This is part of an effort to revive four-year-old aspirations to create the cargo hub, an effort that fizzled after the first and last China Cargo flights arrived from Shanghai only to withdraw when the prospects of an agreed tax holiday disappeared.

The new fund is a scaled back version of the old Aerotropolis tax credit plan, which would have set aside $60 million over eight years to reduce the cost of flying goods overseas. The credit was designed to make shipping from Lambert cheaper than from Chicago O'Hare, where most Midwestern air freight takes off.

The bill died in last fall's failed special legislative session, and shortly after Air China Cargo began cancelling its flights.

Casino tax revenues "don't have the same regulatory issues associated with them" as flood-relief grants, said Denny Coleman, president of the St Louis County Economic Council.

The one-time cash will pay for a pilot project that supporters estimate would support three flights a week for a year. They hope to build a case for St Louis freight routes - to the cargo industry and to state lawmakers.

"A lot of us believe it'll work," said New York-listed Emerson Electric president Ed Monser, who is working on the project. Emerson Electric designs and supplies technology and engineering in industrial, commercial and consumer markets.

But Democrat County Councillor Steve Stenger was doubtful. "I'm 100 per cent in favour of developing a hub for international cargo, but this plan has boondoggle written all over it. The hub is dead one minute, and then the next we see these back-channel manoeuvres involving streetscaping money to fund these unsustainable flights?"

Republican County Councillor Greg Quinn also had doubts. "It doesn't make a lot of sense to me to use $3 million to pay freight forwarders when you don't have a plan in place to back it up."

Staff from Lambert and the Regional Chamber and Growth Association say they will drum up interest in St Louis among exporters and the cargo industry.

"We'll still go after China, but we export all over the world," said Lambert director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. "This has to include the UK, South America and India. It's a broad look at trying to bring cargo activity here."

Republican state Senator Jason Crowell, who has opposed the scheme from the start, said: "I wouldn't do it, but I'm not on the council there. It's a local decision."

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

GHANA's air freight industry has received a boost with the addition of a Saudi Airlines Cargo weekly flight with airline vice president Peter Scholten expressing confidence of a positive operations to come during an inauguration ceremony in Accra, reported GhanaWeb.com.

"We see growth opportunities here. We will start with one flight a week and increase the number of flights depending on the business growth," Mr Scholten said.

"Ghana is an emerging market with enormous business potential for air cargo. The addition of this new destination will help us to increase our activities in Africa, where we already operate scheduled B747 freighters from Saudi Arabia to Nairobi, Lagos, Addis Ababa, N'djamena, Khartoum and Johannesburg," he said.

In attendance was the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Ghana Hesham Meshal Swailem al-Sowalem, who said Ghana's cargo industry will experience enhancement in its level of operation with the introduction of Saudi cargo with its high international quality aircraft.

"The role of Saudi cargo is to bridge the world to the Africa especially Ghana, West Africa and the Middle East," said Mr al-Sowalem.

Air Ghana managing director of Air Ghana Michael Maguire said his company is looking forward to developing products in Ghana and finding markets for Saudi Cargo in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

"We have been talking to them for a long time, explaining the potential, showing them the infrastructure being put in place by the civil aviation and Ghana Airport Company to improve the airport," Mr Maguire said.

He said the introduction of another cargo airline will provide Ghanaian exporters with more choices in bringing goods into the country.

Also in attendance was Ghana Civil Aviation Authority managing director Air Commodore Kwame Mamphey. Others included the ambassadors from Pakistan, Algeria, Sudan and Egypt.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

Yesterday, Chief Commercial Officer of Schiphol Group Maarten de Groof and Lovers Company director Karel Lovers launched 'Schiphol behind the scenes': a multimedia bus tour that provides a behind-the-scenes look at the airport. This spectacular tour gives access to places at the airport that visitors would not normally see, such as the fire service, the snow clearance fleet, the cargo aprons with their large hangars, and the terminal for private jets. Even the old air traffic control tower has been included. The tour has been specially designed for young and old, day-trippers, tourists and passengers arriving or transferring at Schiphol.  

About Schiphol behind the scenes
When boarding the bus, passengers are made to feel that they are entering an aircraft thanks to sounds from the air traffic control tower, the welcome screens and their boarding passes. A video presentation then takes visitors through Schiphol operations, explaining everything that needs to be done to allow air traffic to run at Schiphol. This includes information on the terminal, the runways, flight paths, runway maintenance, baggage and the bird control units.
Past anecdotes also feature regularly, such as the fact that the first flight in 1916 was a military flight, that cargo was also transported during the first passenger flight in 1920, and that there are three different theories on the origin of the name 'Schiphol'.
In short, Schiphol behind the scenes is much more than just a guided tour: it is a way to experience the dynamic nature of the airport.

Schiphol behind the scenes - itinerary
Schiphol behind the scenes starts and ends at Schiphol Plaza, and takes just over an hour. The tour goes past the take-off and landing area towards Schiphol East, along the old air traffic control tower, passes the aircraft hangars, continues on to the snow clearance fleet and fire service post in Sloten, and from there returns to Schiphol Plaza.   

Tickets and prices
For the tour schedule and ticket sales, please visit www.schipholbehindthescenes.nl.Tickets can also be purchased at the airport, in the Arrivals hall or beyond passport control at Holland Boulevard between piers E and F. Adults pay €15, children aged 4-12 €7.50. A 10% discount applies to tickets purchased online.   

Source Hugin Online

For the busy Easter travel period, Latvian national airline airBaltic saw increased passenger interest in the carrier’s destinations in Europe, Middle East, and Russia/CIS.

For the Easter holiday and this week, the Top 10 destinations of airBaltic are the following:

1. Barcelona
2. Paris
3. Moscow
4. Berlin
5. Munich
6. Amsterdam
7. Vienna
8.  Rome
9. Tel Aviv
10. Kiev

These Top 10 destinations enjoyed high demand from passengers starting their journey from popular origin airports in Northern Europe and the Baltic Sea region.

As announced previously, airBaltic entered the summer season with an increased number of flights in its network spanning Europe, Middle East, and Russia/CIS and returning leisure destinations on the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian coast. By increasing flight frequencies, airBaltic will improve its service to both local passengers, and those travelling in transit via Riga. The summer schedule of airBaltic also features a number of leisure destinations coming back from hibernation, including Venice, Athens, Budapest, Nice, Dublin, Chisinau, along with other cities on the Mediterranean, Caspian and Black Sea coast.

airBaltic will increase its Riga- Vienna service to 12 weekly flights, up from 7 last summer; the flight will be operated in cooperation with Austrian Airlines. Riga-Zurich flights will be operated daily, as a result of improving frequency from 6 to 7 weekly. airBaltic will also offer 12 weekly flights on the Riga-Munich route, up from 7 last summer. airBaltic will increase its Riga- Amsterdam service to 12 weekly flights, up from 7 last summer. Riga-Brussels flights will be operated 12 times weekly, an increase from 7 times the previous summer. airBaltic will increase its Riga- Billund service to 7 weekly flights, up from 5 last summer. airBaltic will increase its Riga- Moscow Domodedovo service to 7 weekly flights, up from 2 last summer; flights will be operated in code-share with Transaero Airlines. airBaltic offers four daily flights to Moscow Sheremetyevo in code-share cooperation with Aeroflot.


HONG KONG's Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) has announced its chief operating officer Andy Tung will succeed Philip Chow after his retirement as the new chief executive with effect from July 1.

Mr Tung will continue to be an executive director and a member of the executive committee of Orient Overseas (International) Ltd (OOIL), the parent company of OOCL, and managing director and a member of the executive committee of OOCL, said the company statement.

Mr Tung, nephew of Tung Chee-Chen, the chairman, president and CEO of OOIL Group, took the position of COO in January 2009. He has also served the group in various positions, including as director of reefer trade of OOCL between 1993 and 1998.

Mr Tung holds a bachelors from Princeton and an MBA from Stanford. He is currently a member of the executive committee of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association.

After stepping down as OOCL's chief executive, Mr Chow will stay at the carrier's parent company OOIL Group, in which he has served for more than 36 years, as a non-executive director.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

THE big three Japanese carriers have announced the consolidation of two loops that NYK calls ALEX (Asia Latin America Express), the ALEX-1 and the ALEX-2, into a single string starting April 26.

"K" Line now markets this a single ANDES loop, deploying 11 postpanamax vessels and a new feeder service (MSX) will be launched between Mexico and the west coast of South America.

NYK will supply five of the 11 ships, between 5,600 and 6,500 TEU, while "K" Line and MOL and will provide three each.

The new service will add a direct link between Ningbo, Chile and Peru and offer wider service. Buenaventura and Guayaquil are served via MSX service with transshipment at Manzanillo and Callao, respectively, said "K" Line.

The 77-day rotation will call weekly at Keelung, Hong Kong, Shenzhen-Da Chan Bay, Xiamen, Shanghai, Ningbo, Busan, Manzanillo, Callao, Iquique, Valparaiso, Lirquen, Callao, Manzanillo, Tokyo and Keelung with the first sailing from Keelung on April 26.

"The ports of Honolulu, Buenaventura, and Guayaquil, which were part of ALEX-2, will now be served through new services of ours" said the NYK announcement.

Buenaventura and Guayaquil will also be part of NYK's new MSX (Mexico South America Express) service with transshipment at Manzanillo (Mexico) and Callao on the following 21-day rotation, deploying three 2,100-TEU on a weekly basis calling at Manzanillo, Buenaventura, Callao, Guayaquil and then back to Manzanillo with the first sailing on May 26.

Honolulu will be served by our new AHX (Asia Hawaii Express) service. A separate press release (http://www.nyk.com/english/release/1964/NE_120411_2.html) contains service details.

Additionally, shipments linking Asia with the west coast of Central America will continue to be offered through the MAREX-Neo service via transshipment in Manzanillo (Mexico).

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

ISRAELI flag carrier Zim is to enhance Europe-to-Asia services with changes to East Med Express Service (EMX) by adding a new direct call to the Black Sea ports of Odessa and Novorossiysk.

The addition of these ports will enhance its connectivity to Russia and CIS countries and improve transit times to its major Asian ports with the addition of a call to Busan.

The EMC revised port rotation is now Busan, Shanghai, Ningbo, Shenzhen-Dachan Bay, Port Kelang, Haifa, Ashdod, Istanbul, Odessa, Novorossiysk, Gemlik, Istanbul, Haifa, Mundra, Colombo, Port Kelang and back to Busan.

Zim is to launch a new weekly Asia-Black Sea service (ABS) to connect Asia with ports of Constanta, Romania and Illichivsk, Ukraine as well as the ports of Piraeus and Istanbul.

The ABC port rotation will have the following rotation: Shanghai, Ningbo, Shenzhen-Shekou, Singapore, Port Kelang, Piraeus, Istanbul, Constanta, Illichivsk, Port Kelang and back to Shanghai.

Said Zim: "Together, these two additions constitute a significant upgrade, part of the company's strategy is to strengthen its leading position in the Black Sea with two weekly sailings, wider port coverage, improved transit times and higher reliability."

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

DUBAI-based Emirates Shipping Line has announced it will increase the rates for services from Far East and southeast Asia to east Africa by US$250 per TEU, as well as from Far East and southeast Asia to Indian subcontinent by $300 per TEU from April 15.

Headquartered in both Dubai and Hong Kong, Emirates Shipping Line is the world's 59th largest carrier, according to Alphaliner Top 100 League.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

DUBAI's Emirates Shipping Line has announced it will participate in the Korea-East Asia-Middle East loop (KMS) with Korea's Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) with first sailing on April 24 from Kwangyang.

Port rotation of the KMS is Kwangyang, Busan, Ningbo, Keelung, Shenzhen-Yantian, Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Klang, Jebel Ali, Bandar Abbas, Karachi, returning to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Emirates said in a statement this service offers a direct call from the Middle East to Karachi and connects Korea and the Far East to the major Middle East Gulf ports, making it "a comprehensive and competitive service in the North Asia to the Middle East Gulf trade lane."

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

CONTAINER import cargo volume at American major ports is expected to increase 3.2 per cent in April year on year with such gains continuing through summer, says the Global Port Tracker report released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

"Retailers are continuing to watch rising gas prices, but job gains and other indicators show the economy is strengthening," said federation vice president Jonathan Gold. "All of this should improve consumer confidence and lead to increased spending, so retailers are building up their inventories."

American ports followed by Global Port Tracker handled 1.04 million TEU in February, the latest month for which records are available. With February traditionally the slowest month of the year, volume was down 16 per cent from January and 5.7 per cent from February 2011.

March was estimated at 1.19 million TEU, up 9.6 per cent from a year ago, and April is forecast at 1.25 million TEU, up 3.2 per cent from last year. May is forecast at 1.29 million TEU, the same as last year; June at 1.29 million TEU, up 3.6 per cent; July at 1.35 million TEU, up 1.9 per cent, and August at 1.42 million TEU, up 7.4 per cent.

The first half of 2012 should total 7.3 million TEU, up 2.2 per cent year on year. The total for 2011 was 14.8 million TEU, up 0.4 per cent from 2010's 14.75 million TEU. The federation continues to project 2012 retail sales will grow 3.4 per cent to $2.53 trillion.

"Our forecast for the remainder of the year has brought us back to the traditional peak season patterns," Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett said. "Hopefully the importers and the carriers can work closely together to ensure sufficient capacity and a solid supply chain."

Global Port Tracker covers the ports of Long Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah and Houston.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

The Port of Humen, in Guangdong's Dongguan city, has applied to set up a three-square kilometre bonded port area and aims to become an important international free port in the Pearl River Delta in 10 years' time, Xinhua reports.

Humen Bonded Port Area will be situated at the Shatian port area Xidatan operation area, offering bonded logistics, export processing, trading, exhibition and financial services, according to the local Nanfang Daily.

Once becoming a free port, Humen is set to be a locomotive for the development of industries in Dongguan and the regions around, the paper said.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

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