Menzies to acquire majority stake in AJAS Limited

Menzies Aviation is extending its American network to Jamaica by acquiring a majority stake in AJAS Limited.Menzies Aviation aquires majority stake in Jamaican-based AJAS Limited
The privately owned ground and cargo handling company has operated in Jamaica for over 82 years, employs almost 600 staff and provides ramp, passenger and cargo handling services to several international airlines at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay.
Following the acquisition, AJAS Limited will be rebranded as Menzies AJAS, bringing it in line with other companies in the Menzies Group and the current management team will stay in place.
John Redmond, Executive Vice President Americas of Menzies Aviation, said: “The Menzies AJAS combination brings together local knowledge, relationships and expertise, which will strengthen our position in this market. We look forward to working with the AJAS team to grow the business under the Menzies brand.”
Howard Mitchell, Chairman of AJAS, said: “We have a shared vision with Menzies and are aligned on the value of our employees and how we look after them, which in turn maximizes the service they provide as well as the return to our stakeholders.”
The transaction is expected to close in a matter of weeks, subject to regulatory approval, and the rebranding and integration into Menzies’ global network will begin this month.

Talma completes Servicios Aéreos Integrados acquisition

Talma 2Peruvian company Talma, from Grupo Sandoval, has acquired Servicios Aéreos Integrados (SAI), a Colombian company owned by Avianca.
SAI operates in the Colombian airports of Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Armenia, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, Montería, Ibagué, Neiva, Pereira and Pasto, in which they mainly provide ground assistance services, passenger service and baggage clearance.
The transaction was made through TSA Investments Inc. S.A., a holding company based in Peru and is Talma’s second acquisition in Colombia as in 2019, they bought LASA, an airport services company based in Medellín.
Arturo Cassinelli, Corporate General Manager of Talma, said: “This acquisition is part of the regional expansion plan that started in 2010 with the entry into the Mexican market and continued with the acquisition of a ramp services company in Ecuador in 2017. Today, the company specialising in airport services and air logistics, operates in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico, becoming the largest airport services company in Latin America.”

IATA calls for transition to enhanced GSE

Nick Careen, SVP Operations, Safety and Security at IATA

Nick Careen, SVP Operations, Safety and Security at IATA

Transitioning to enhanced ground support equipment (GSE) could significantly improve safety and cut ground damage caused by GSE, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Calling for a transition to enhanced GSE, which uses anti-collision and inching technology to improve accuracy and safety, an IATA study says that the annual cost of ground damage caused by GSE will double to $10 billion by 2035.

IATA came to the figure by looking at the direct costs of material and labour, temporary leasing, logistical and administrative expenses, and indirect costs of lost revenue, crew and passenger repositioning and compensation for delayed services.

The study found that most damage occurs when the aircraft is stationery and GSE strikes the fuselage, and that the damage rate is 10 times higher for widebody aircraft but regional, turboprop and narrowbody aircraft are 30% more prone to severe ground damage.

According to the IATA ground damage incident data base, belt-loaders, cargo-loaders, passenger stairs and passenger boarding bridges cause 40% of the total incidents.

IATA estimates that transitioning 75% of the global fleet of belt-loaders, cargo-loaders, passenger stairs and passenger boarding bridges to enhanced GSE would reduce the current damage rate by 42%.

Nick Careen, Senior Vice President Operations, Safety and Security at IATA, said: “Transitioning to Enhanced GSE with anti-collision technology is a no-brainer. We have proven technology that can improve safety. And with the cost of ground damage growing across the industry there is a clear business case supporting early adoption. The challenge now is to put together a roadmap so that all stakeholders are aligned on a transition plan.”

IATA also recommends that GSE fleet owners should have a plan to transition to enhanced GSE, ground handling service providers should be ready to integrate enhanced GSE into their fleets, airlines should work with ground handlers to use enhanced GSE, aircraft and GSE manufacturers should work together to ensure that GSE can operate safely and securely around aircraft and states should consider policies to encourage the use of enhanced GSE.

United invests in Natron Energy to electrify ground operations

IAH ramp marshall plane resizedUnited Airlines has made a strategic equity investment in sodium-ion battery manufacturer Natron Energy to help electrify ground operations.

The sodium-ion batteries have the potential to help United electrify airport ground equipment including pushback tractors and operations at the gate.

United has made investments in companies developing technology to reduce aircraft emissions but Natron is the first with the potential to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint from United’s ground operations.

The airline has more than 12,000 pieces of motorised ground equipment, of which one third is electric.

Natron’s batteries can support operations through charging electric ground equipment, charging anticipated future electric aircraft, allowing airport operations to manage electricity demand and greatly improve resilience during inclement weather.

Michael Leskinen, President of United Airlines Ventures, said: “Out of the gate, we primarily focused on technology designed to help reduce carbon emissions from our airplanes. Natron’s cutting-edge sodium-ion batteries presented an ideal opportunity to both potentially expand our sustainability investment portfolio to our ground operations, and to help make our airport operations more resilient.”

Colin Wessells, CEO of Natron Energy, added: “Our batteries provide the high power over short distances that ground service equipment needs, and unlike lithium-ion, Natron’s batteries are completely non-flammable and can be safely deployed into ground service operations.”

Natron says sodium-ion batteries have several advantages such as better output and cycle life than their lithium counterparts, and independent tests showed that they were non-flammable.

The minerals used in sodium-ion batteries are abundant worldwide and easily sourced, unlike lithium which is in short supply with demand expected to triple by 2025.

Azul awards Swissport handling contract at Viracopos

Swissport resizedBrazilian airline Azul Linhas Aereas Brasileiras has awarded Swissport to provide ground handling services at Viracopos International Airport.

Swissport will provide ramp handling, aircraft cleaning, and cargo handling in the eight year contract at the airport in Campinas, Sao Paulo state. The two companies already work together at eight airports in Brazil.

Rene Pascua, Head of Latin America and Caribbean at Swissport said: “Swissport has been serving Azul at several airports since the start of their operations in 2008, and we are honoured to earn their renewed trust and to serve them at their home base. Swissport is well prepared to support Azul’s growth in Brazil and beyond as it adds new aircraft.”

At Viracopos, Azul serves 66 locations across Latin America and a few in the US and Portugal, primarily operating narrow-body Airbuses, ATRs and Embraers and a few widebody Airbuses, and it has A350s on order.

Unifi handles Breeze Airways flights in West Palm Beach

Breeze Airways resizedUnifi has extended its partnership with Breeze Airways to handle services in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Since Breeze Airways’ inaugural flight in May 2021, Unifi has been providing services at several airports and will support six flights a week at West Palm Beach International Airport.

Gautum Thakkar, CEO of Unifi says: “We’ve been a proud partner of Breeze Airways since they started. As their largest aviation services provider, we are thrilled to support their Seriously Nice™ approach to their customers by delivering strong performance across all measurable categories.”

In addition to West Palm Beach, Unifi also provides Breeze with ground handling services in Akron, Ohio; Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas; Hartford, Connecticut; Huntsville, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; Norfolk, Virginia; Providence, Rhode Island; San Antonio, Texas; Tampa, Florida; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Polar Air Cargo and WFS sign contract in Los Angeles

PolarAirCargoaircraftdeparting resizedPolar Air Cargo has expanded its partnership with Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) through a long-term contract at Los Angeles International Airport.

WFS started providing warehouse handling services from December 2021 and will also manage scheduled and ad-hoc freighter services for Atlas Air from Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is one of Polar’s biggest stations in the US and the airline has expanded its footprint with a second warehouse totalling more than 230,000 square feet.

Guido DiGiandomenico, Vice President of Sales in North America for WFS says: “In Los Angeles, thanks to the hard work of our local WFS team, we have earned a solid reputation for providing quality cargo handling services in what is a challenging marketplace. We look forward to supporting Polar’s continued growth at this very important west coast gateway.”

Fenix Logistix invests in Irish operations

FLI_GHI001_ElectricPushback resizedFenix Logistix has invested in its Irish firm, Fenix Logistix Ireland to develop business opportunities in Ireland, the UK and throughout Europe.

The Dublin-based ground handling and logistics firm, Fenix Logistix Ireland (FLie) was established during one of the most challenging times in aviation history and will meet the needs of the continually changing commercial aviation market, focusing on professional staff and modern technology.

The Seattle headquartered parent company says the investment will strength Fenix’s brand and along with sharing knowledge and core competencies from its US operations, Fenix in Ireland will enjoy synergies of multi-national operations.

FLie started 2022 with the acquisition of RED Handling UK from Norwegian Airlines, which became a wholly owned subsidiary on 1 January.

RED Handling, based at London’s Gatwick Airport was established in 2016 as a test model to provide Norwegian a dedicated handling company for its largest hub outside Scandinavia.

Unifi takes on aha! Airlines at 10th station

Unifi-Team-aha-Airlines resizedUnifi has started serving aha! Airlines at its 10th station, starting operations at Palm Springs International Airport on 3 January.

The ground handler provides aha! with ground handling operations and passenger services for over 50 flights a week.

The two companies started their partnership on 24 October at Reno-Tahoe International Airport helping ExpressJet Airlines relaunch flight operations for its leisure brand.

Gautam Thakkar, CEO of Unifi says: “By providing full ground handling services to 10 of their 11 locations, we’re happy to be their largest ground-handling partner. We’re committed to providing aha! the high-level service Unifi is known for and strengthening our relationship into the future.”

Unifi provides aha! with ground handling services at Bakersfield, Fresno, Ontario and Palm Springs in California, at Eugene, Medford and Redmond in Oregon, Pasco/Tri-Cities and Spokane in Washington, and Reno in Nevada.

From the magazine: Going Underground with Aircraft Towing Systems

ATS artist impressionMaking aircraft more efficient is very important for improving sustainability but what can be done when they are on the ground? Deputy Editor James Muir spoke to Aircraft Towing Systems (ATS) World Wide about its game-changing proposal.

As aviation grows, so will its contribution to global carbon dioxide emissions. Aircraft are considerably more efficient than they used to be but they still use significant amounts of fuel and emit harmful gases. According to the report Decarbonizing Aviation: Cleared for Take Off, almost 10% of emission reductions can be achieved by fixing inefficiencies when aircraft are taxiing and waiting to take off.

Aircraft Towing Systems (ATS) World Wide has developed a towing system that could not only save the airlines considerable amounts of money through reducing fuel use, but also make operations safer. Its system works on a rail, with the pilot taxiing onto the towing system and once the nose landing gear is secure, they can turn the main jet engines off and relax. In a pre-engineered pattern, the towing system, which runs along a rail embedded in an underground channel, then tows the aircraft to the gate and back to the runway.

It has three primary components, a channel in the ground covered in steel plates, a pullcar in the ground powered by an electric car motor that drives hydraulic pumps driving hydraulic motors that clamp on a monorail in the bottom of the channel and software. The pullcar is connected through the cover plates to the tow dolly. The tow dolly looks like a round disc with ramps on each end for the aircraft’s nose landing gear to drive upon. Then the pilot shuts off the engines, which is “when all the good stuff starts happening”, in the words of Vince Howie, CEO of ATS World Wide. Fuel is saved, emissions are not emitted, noise is reduced and the aircraft is being guided significantly reducing the chance of collisions.

He adds: “The system is fully automated, so it knows what type of aircraft is loaded into the tow dolly, then takes the aircraft to the correct gate and knows where to stop so you don’t overshoot the jet bridge.”

Howie has experience of overshooting, taking a flight recently that overshot the jet bridge slightly. It took 27 minutes before they were pushed back about a metre so the jet bridge would line up.
The system automates several manual processes and optimises taxiway and gate selection. Howie has been working with Oklahoma State University for six years doing development work. They calculated throughput at airports could increase by up to 30% using the ATS system. Several airports are interested for this reason alone.

Howie spent 29 years in the US Air Force then served as the Aerospace and Defense Director for the state of Oklahoma working directly for the Governor. The idea came about at the 2015 Paris Air Show where he met Stan Malicki who had an innovative proposal to move aircraft around airports. Aircraft Towing Systems World Wide LLC was formed in 2016 and Oklahoma State University was put on contract to develop the idea that same year. Two years ago, the project needed working full-time so Howie left his job at the state and filled that role.

Malicki had been working on the idea since the early 2000s after he returned to his native Poland having lived for a long time in West Germany, where he became a successful businessman. A friend of his, a 747 pilot, was complaining about the amount of fuel being burnt on the ground. So Malicki gave the problem to some Sukhov helicopter engineers now working for him in Warsaw, they developed a similar concept using motors above ground and run by belts.

To put the system in place, ATS would run simulation models looking at aircraft traffic flows at the airport and how to optimise everything. Howie says: “If airports have the complete system, it would have tracks running from every gate to taxiways and ramp areas with return loops. They would have a pullcar and tow dolly for every gate plus about 10% extra pullcars. We would calculate the maximum number of aircraft on the ground at any one time and that’s the number of pullcars an airport would need.”

The fuel savings would be considerable. Howie says that around 80% of airline fleets are composed of Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s type aircraft, which burn around nine gallons of fuel per minute during taxi. Average taxi times at US airports are between 16 and 27 minutes, and with up to 900,000 movements at large airports, ATS predicts fuel savings could be almost $500m. Also, towing aircraft places less stress on the airframe than using the throttles to move aircraft.

Howie says: “The enticement for airports comes from saving the airlines fuel, the airport becomes a good partner in the community because they are reducing emissions and noise, also increasing efficiency by improving throughput. The airport would recoup the cost by charging a 50% landing fee based on fuel savings of that particular aircraft during taxiing. It would be a 50/50 cost share and savings between the airline saving 50% on fuel during taxi and the airport charging 50% landing fee.”

Interested in reading more? The full article was published in the November/December issue of Ramp Equipment News, click here to read the digital edition.

ATS has released a video showing how the system works, which can be viewed here.

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