ULD merger will grow network
ULD activity has been in the news again.
ACL Airshop, a company that leases, sells, repairs and manages ULDs and cargo net supplies, has announced that it is to merge with Ranger Airshop, the investment arm of Ranger Aerospace. The initiative will allow a focus on the growth of ACL’s network, which is expected to double from the current 45,000 ULDs to 100,000 units.
According to Steve Townes, President and founder of Ranger Aerospace, this move has been some 16 years in the making. “The intent is to grow the ULD network strategically,” he commented. In the next five to seven years, the new entity will consolidate its operation in certain of its locations.
Auction time in Brazil
Having bid a total of US$1.19bn, three companies are now set to operate four airports in Brazil.
Germany-based Fraport has won the concession for the airports of Fortaleza (30 years) and Porto Alegre (for 25 years); part of the deal will involve it paying the government 5% of the airports’ annual revenues. Zurich airport operator Flughafen Zurich was successful in its bid for the concession to operate Hercílio Luz airport in Florianópolis: this contract will run for 30 years. Elsewhere, Vinci gained the right to operate Magalhaes airport in Salvador, also for a 30 year contract.
In all, the quartet account for just over 11% of Brazilian passenger traffic.
On a charge at 5,000
LEKTRO has reached a milestone, having delivering its five thousandth aircraft tug to American Airlines at Los Angeles International airport. To date, LEKTRO has produced more towbarless aircraft tugs than any other manufacturer in the world. The tug, a model AP8950SDB-AL-250, is the Oregon based company’s largest pushback offering, capable of handling aircraft up to 280,000 pounds, such as the Boeing 757. It represents an upgraded version of LEKTRO’s popular AP8950SDB-AL-200, which was introduced in 2014 and designed to handle aircraft up to 210,000 pounds like the A321 and B737. The new tugs are certified to handle every narrow body aircraft in American’s fleet and every regional aircraft it and its sister regional carriers operate.
The new units replace several of American Airlines’ conventional diesel tractors and should ensure safe and reliable pushback operations, while lowering the overall carbon emission levels at the airport.
Virgin Atlantic Cargo adds new London to Seattle route
Virgin Atlantic Cargo has launched a new daily service from London to Seattle, in addition to bolstering its services from Manchester to the US with additional flights.
Senior Vice President, Cargo at Virgin Atlantic, John Lloyd, commented on the new route, which is to join the airline’s network on March 26. “Seattle is in the top 15 import/export markets for cargo between the UK and US and the level of interest from customers since we announced plans to start the route last year indicates we can gain a strong share of the market,” he explained, adding that the 10.2% increase in tonnages in 2016 through Seattle-Tacoma illustrate that it is a significant, growing origin, transit and destination point for cargo.
Virgin’s 2017 summer schedule also includes the launch of direct Manchester-San Francisco operations three times a week, beginning March 28. The following day a new twice-weekly service from Manchester to Boston will begin, while April will see the launch of a weekly service from Gatwick to Varadero in Cuba and, at the end of May, daily Manchester-New York JFK flights will commence.
With 12 US gateways in operation, Virgin already provides some 30% of transatlantic cargo capacity and tonnage from the UK to the US rose by 8.4% year-on-year in 2016. Lloyd concludes: “2016 was a challenging year for everyone so we are very encouraged by the growth in our volumes from the UK to the US… With the launch of Seattle and our commitment to customers in the North of England we are optimistic of further growth in 2017.”
China Airlines signs new contract with WFS
China Airlines has extended its 19 year working relationship with Worldwide Flight Services in North America, having signed a new cargo handling contract at Chicago O’Hare.
This new contract takes to five the number of locations in the US where WFS provides services for the Chinese carrier. WFS secured its first contract with China Airlines in North America in 1998 at New York’s JFK, where it continues to handle some 47m kilogrammes of cargo a year for the airline. In addition to providing further cargo handling services in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, WFS also manages passenger and ramp operations for China Airlines in Honolulu.
Under the terms of this latest agreement, WFS will handle up to seven direct flights a week connecting Chicago with Taipei, together with an estimated 56m kilogrammes per year of freight.
A state of Flux
Flux Power Holdings, a developer of advanced lithium batteries for industrial applications, including electric forklifts and airport ground service equipment, has announced financial results for its fiscal 2017 second quarter and six months ended December 31, 2016.
In the second quarter of 2017, cost of sales increased by 54% to US$311,000 compared to $202,000 in the period a year ago, reflecting higher unit sales. Starting in October 2016, Flux commenced transitioning the production of key components to lower cost vendors. This strategic sourcing initiative is expected to significantly decrease the average per unit cost of the LiFT Pack and advance Flux’s LiFT Pack production towards a positive gross profit position.
CEO, Ron Dutt, commented: “Interest in our UL listed LiFT Packs continues to build in scope, excitement and customer deployments.
“We are also working very closely with forklift OEMs in an effort to position our LiFT Packs as an option for new equipment. These dialogues have reinforced our plans to expand into the Class I and II lift equipment market. This spring, Flux plans to deliver a Class I LiFT Pack prototype to an OEM that has shown strong interest in what we are doing and specifically asked us to scale up our solutions for larger vehicles.”
Better performance for US carriers in 2016
Amongst other information, the annual US Department of Transportation air travel report reveals the lowest rate of flight cancellations for over two decades.
Coming out on top, with the highest punctuality figures, was Hawaiian Airlines: it chalked up a statistic of 85.1%, edging out Delta Air Lines, which managed a creditable 81.4%. Stalwart American Airlines took the third position, with figures of 79.1%.
Losers in the race for on time performance were SkyWest (which managed 69.8%) and Virgin America (at 68.3%), whilst Frontier brought up the rear with 62.4%. The bad news for Frontier didn’t end there, because the carrier also posted the worst flight cancellation statistics, at 6.4%. In contrast, Hawaiian posted a figure of just 0.1%, which was chased by Delta at 0.2%.
The good news also included baggage, with mishandled luggage dropping to 2.7% per 1,000 passengers compared to the 2015 statistic of 3.13%. Complaints received by the DOT for the same period were also down by over 11%, accentuating the better year overall for US carriers.
User-friendly GPU from AERO
AERO Specialties has introduced a new diesel-hybrid ground power unit. According to the manufacturer the unit, dubbed the JetGo 600Mti-RJ, will be the most advanced 28V DC GPU to be found within the market today. This unit is set to replace the already popular JetGo 550Mti-RJ GPU that has seen wide deployment within both military and commercial operations across the globe; the model is also attuned to operating in the harshest of environments. AERO engineers have made these units quiet, lightweight, extremely fuel efficient, powerful and by far the most user-friendly examples available, with a simplified operation that depends on only one switch.
Electric buses for Indianapolis
Vehicle builder Complete Coach Works has announced that it has been chosen as the contractor to furnish Indianapolis International airport with six Zero-Emission Propulsion System (or ZEPS), electric 35 foot remanufactured buses. When the order is fulfilled, this will constitute the largest fleet of electric buses at any airport within the US.
Thanks to a Zero Emissions Vehicle grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airport is now embarking on a greener path.
Flexible towbarless tug launched
TNA Aviation Technologies has announced the North and South American release of the TowFLEXX 120e HG, an advanced and versatile electric towbarless aircraft tug. This product has been designed to combine the best in flexibility, adaptability, practical features, tow capacity and capability.
According to the company’s Michael Turwitt, customers have been asking for more affordable and compact tow tug systems, especially in the aircraft weight range of 10,000 to 30,000 pounds MTOW.
The TowFLEXX 120e HG features a powerful electric motor and many capabilities that deliver functionality normally only found in bigger and more expensive tow tugs. Customers can thus use this versatile tug for a wide range of aircraft, all the way up to medium size corporate jets, with either single or twin nose wheel configuration. There are no special adapters required and loading the aircraft nose gear is fast and easy; moreover, the ergonomic multi-functional tiller steering control can be operated with one hand.