Menzies’ Americas SVP, Raul Barrera, on Latin America’s market comeback

Ramp Equipment News recently interviewed Raul BarreRaulra, the Senior Vice President – Business Development for the Americas region at Menzies on how ground handling within the Latin American market was coping with the challenges of Covid-19.

Latin America has had its fair share of fall-out in the wake of the pandemic. But has this experience been regional – and has it affected all and sundry?

To begin with, REN was keen to learn how the ground handling market had been performing in the Latin America region and whether there were any particular regional trends in terms of cargo and passenger handling.

Additionally, how were Menzies’ operations performing in South America compared with stations elsewhere in the world? According to Barrera, like the ground handling market globally, Latin America has still been recovering from the impact of Covid-19 and significantly reduced flight volumes.

“However,” he reveals, “some countries are faring better than others. For example, the Mexican market is heavily influenced by US traffic, and there has been a recent surge in activity, with passengers flying northbound to the US to receive their Covid vaccine, and southbound as a vacation destination, since European locations are still restricted.

“Domestic travel in Colombia had also rebounded strongly, but recent political unrest has dampened the recovery. What we are seeing across the region is a trend amongst major carriers, such as Aeromexico, LATAM and Avianca, who have begun exploring the outsourcing business model in several stations. This is a result of all that went on last year, with carriers now looking to increase their flexibility and balance their books.”

He reckons that the cargo business remains strong, though. “Our operations in Miami and Colombia experienced a heavy Mother’s Day peak cycle, for example. We are concerned that the vaccination rate in Latin America remains low, with below 20% of people fully vaccinated. As vaccines reach the wider population, we expect a significant recovery of flight volumes, though.”

Leisure travel is driving strong demand, he says, with the domestic US carriers planning for a busy summer and for a busy remainder of the year; these carriers are even opening many new leisure routes.

Challenges manifest
What, in his view, were the main challenges that Menzies had been navigating in the Americas region? And to what extent was the pandemic continuing to impact operations here? Perhaps unsurprisingly, staff is top of the list.

“One of the main challenges shared by all handlers, in particular in North America, is the constrained labour market, whereby there are often more roles available than qualified candidates. This has been compounded by the drive towards outsourcing of activity, which has created additional volumes and positions to be filled. We have put into place local employee attraction and retention schemes to tackle this.

“We have won a lot of new business recently in a short space of time, so one of the most exciting challenges is starting up new operations, often within a matter of weeks from contract award. Start-ups are time and resource intensive; however, since the beginning of the year, we have successfully onboarded operations for Aeromexico, American Airlines, Delta and others in Mexico. Additionally, there are lingering effects of Covid-19, which have created complexity. For example, Covid restrictions, like social distancing in the airport, have disrupted established protocols and ways of working. However, we have adapted quickly to implement the necessary procedure adjustments in line with restrictions. The good news is that we are beginning to see some of these restrictions easing.”

Could he touch on any positive trends within the industry? “The resilience of cargo in the region has been a significant positive trend. Cargo is typically cyclical and susceptible to peaks and troughs. However, many carriers have woken up to the opportunity presented by cargo and we have seen sustained cargo growth throughout the pandemic. At the same time, the boom in e-commerce, often referred to as the Amazon Effect, is reaching further into Latin America, which is a driving force behind the strengthening airfreight cargo network in the region.”

Developments afoot
Had there been any developments of note for Menzies in the region? “Our strategy is focused on balancing our services portfolio, with further growth in the cargo and fuelling sectors and penetration into emerging markets. Through our commitment to this strategyavianca
we have achieved some notable success. One such success is our recent contract win with Latin American carrier Avianca at Miami International Airport. We started up operations at the beginning of May and expect to see around 250,000 tonnes of cargo being handled annually through the contract. This will drive traffic through the Latin American region. We also have a number of new initiatives in the region that support our strategy which should come to fruition in the next few months.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen airlines place a greater focus on planning scenarios to better prepare for severe shocks to the market. Of course, some events cannot be anticipated or planned for, but the experience of Covid-19 has demonstrated that flexibility is key in the event of dramatic downturns. A good example of that are the changes in the way cargo has been moved, with the use of passenger planes. We are now more involved than ever in supporting clients with their planning for potential constrained environments.”

Going forward
Finally, as the new SVP for Central and South America, how will Tomeu Mas be
driving Menzies’ growth aims in the region? “Tomeu will be focusing on delivering for our existing customers as well as seeking exciting opportunities to expand our network in Latin America across all product categories, whether that be organically or through acquisitions and joint ventures. Expansion in Latin America is an important part of our global growth strategy.

“We’ll continue to see the outsourcing of business as airlines over the next couple
of years opt to concentrate on their core operations. This is because low cost carriers are setting the operating standard in the region. With the industry levelling around the low cost model, legacy carriers are adopting more cost-efficient, leaner operations and offloading fixed costs.”

dnata enhances cargo services using drones in Dallas

dnata has started deploying dronesdronesdnataREN in its warehouses at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to digitise inventory processes and monitor shipments.

Working in partnership with US-based tech start-up, Gather AI, the artificial intelligence software enables the drones to map the environment, collect inventory data, count cases, measure temperature and read barcodes by using cameras.

The drones are paired to a tablet device providing live inventory data, which can then be viewed directly on the tablet or the web, via a user-friendly application. They can operate at temperatures as low as -10oC, enabling dnata to take advantage of the technology in its state-of-the-art cool chain facilities, too.

dnata plans to gradually roll out the drones across its global cargo network in the next years.

Guillaume Crozier, dnata’s Divisional Vice President for Operations and Product Development, said: “We are excited to introduce leading-edge drone technology in our operations to take cargo handling to the next level.

“Our partner’s autonomous drones and inventory management platform provides greater transparency across our entire operations. This new technology, combined with our strong cargo product expertise, enables us to significantly enhance efficiency and mitigate the risk of revenue leakage throughout the customer journey.”

Watch this video to find out how autonomous drones help the handler digitise processes and monitor shipments with 99.8 accuracy.

Swissport opens Halifax Stanfield warehouse

Swissport has opened an air cargo ware190528_Swiss_BSL_117 1house at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, its third new Canadian facility in less than six months.

With the new 370 square metre facility, Swissport complements its local offering in passenger services with air cargo handling. In comparison with 2019, the company’s volumes in Canada are up 35%, underlining the need for increased warehousing and logistics capacity.

“With the opening of new warehouses across Canada, we are leveraging Swissport’s global expertise to deliver world-class air cargo handling at more Canadian airports,” says Charles Roberge, CEO of Swissport in Canada. “We are adding more services in more places making sure we meet the growing needs of our customers and changes in the industry. With its comprehensive service portfolio Swissport in Canada aspires to be the partner of choice for global and local customer airlines alike and we will continue to invest in our service delivery.”

Just recently, new air cargo warehouses were opened at Montréal–Mirabel International Airport and Edmonton International Airport (EIA). The 500 square metre Montréal-Mirabel location again represents an extension of Swissport’s local service offering, adding air cargo handling to the established fuelling activities. At Edmonton International, the existing full range of passenger services is supplemented by a new 1,000 square metre air cargo warehouse with options for a further expansion. The additional capacity contributes to Swissport’s focus on cargo growth in the region.

Tom Ruth, President and CEO of Edmonton International Airport, says: “With the growth in cargo business at EIA, Swissport is seizing the opportunity to expand its services and create more jobs and opportunities for our community. 2020 saw tremendous growth in cargo demand and that has continued this year. As the only Canadian airport community with the global IATA CEIV Pharma certification, we look forward to more developments supporting EIA’s position as a major logistics centre.”

SAASA starts IATA CEIV Fresh and Live Animals certifications

Servicios Aeroportuarios Andinos S.A. has started the process to earn IATA CEIV Fresh and CEIV Live Animals certification.saasa

The airport service provider achieved the CEIV Pharma certification in March this year, making it the first cargo terminal in Peru to earn the certificate.

“With the start of the CEIV Fresh and CEIV Live Animals certifications, we are close to being the first Peruvian operator and the first in the region to have these three certifications.” said Enrique Vargas, SAASA General Manager.

These two important certifications will guarantee the traceability, handling and storage of perishable products, and the transport of live animals, in accordance with international standards used in the industry.

“SAASA is an important part of the supply chain of different sectors through the services it provides. Having these three certifications will turn us into the reliable partner for the air export and import of perishable products and live animals, especially Peruvian agro-industrial products which are today all over the world,” Vargas continued.

Jet In breaks ground at Milwaukee airport facility

Jet In has broken ground at its new facility at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport.

The $11Jet In groundbreaking Milwaukee airport resized_popupm facility at 504 E Citation Way will have services including heated hangars and the latest technology advancements catering for the needs of passengers and flight crew.

Sustainability was a priority in the design, with the facility featuring energy efficient heating and cooling, an all-electric fleet of aircraft towing equipment, and electric crew and courtesy cars.

The Jet In facility will serve the public as a full-service fixed-base operator and also serve as the Milwaukee base of operations to its sister company, Jet Out.

Joseph Crivello, CEO of Jet In and Jet Outsays: “As we continue to adjust to a post-pandemic world, general aviation provides solutions for individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses, sporting teams, and other institutions seeking to manage risk and adapt their operations to a new reality. Jet In and Jet Out are proud to meet this need.”

New Baltimore facility for WheelTug

WheelTug has announced that it has secured a 37,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Baltimore, Maryland.
The facility will serve for the assembly, testing and logistics operations for global WheelTug deliveries.
wheeltugThe fitting out of the facility and the design of the assembly line is being managed by WheelTug¹s new Director of Manufacturing, Jack France. France brings significant experience to the role. He previously held senior manager positions at Honda North America, and GE/Honda Aero. He was also responsible for co-ordinating with certificating and regulatory authorities, including the FAA and numerous civil aviation authorities worldwide.
The new facility and production management expertise will enable WheelTug to meet existing and future demand for WheelTug systems. So far, 25 airlines on five continents have reserved more than 2,000 WheelTug systems.

Swissport adds to its US network

Starting this July, Swissport will be offeringAeromexico_Austin airport ground services at Austin Bergstrom International airport. The Texas airport adds to Swissport’s dense US network of 44 airports in 25 states. Austin is Swissport’s first opening of a new US airport location in six years, underlining its growth ambitions as the industry recovers from the pandemic.

WFS opens cargo centre in Atlanta

Worldwide Flight Services has opened the most modern cargo handling centre at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport.
This will support its focus on network expansion, facility investments and sustainability.
WFS won the airport’s tender for a 20 year lease to operate the new 100,000 square foot Cargo Building C, which is a key part of Atlanta’s multi-billion dollar master plan to accommodate the future aviation needs of the region. Prior to the global disruption to aviation services caused by the COVID pandemic, Atlanta was the world’s busiest international airport and a major air cargo hub, handling more than 675,000 tonnes per annum.

Help for the PRM at Miami International

To kick off Mobility Awareness Month, Miami-Dade County leaders and advocates for the local disability community held a plug-in ceremony to celebrate the installation of ten new wheelchair charging stations at Miami International airport. The airport is one of the first in the US to install the charging stations, which exceed the basic Americans with Disabilities Act airport requirements.MIA

“I applaud Miami for remaining on the forefront of airport accessibility with this fantastic new initiative,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “Resources like these wheelchair charging stations are critical to better serving travellers with special needs, and ensuring Miami is on the leading edge of the new norms of air travel.”

Menzies expands in Canada

menzies canadaMenzies Aviation has announced that it has been awarded full-service ground handling agreements by Flair Airlines, Canada’s only independent ultra low cost carrier. This will further expand Menzies’ partnership with the airline to encompass nine of the 19 stations in its domestic network.

Menzies will provide passenger and ramp services to Flair Airlines at Halifax Stanfield International airport, Ottawa International airport and Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International airport from May; at the airports of Saint John, Charlottetown and Victoria from July; and at Abbotsford International airport from August.

This will build on the existing partnership between Menzies and Flair at two key Canadian stations, with Menzies having supported the carrier at Toronto Pearson International since February, and at Saskatoon John G Diefenbaker International since August 2020, where the Menzies team is currently preparing for flights to restart in May.

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