May 17, 2020

Air China Cargo opens two new European freight routes

Air China
cargo
Air freight
Amsterdam
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Air China Cargo flights landing at Beijing International Airport
Air China Cargo has added two new air routes from its Shanghai hub to Amsterdam and Frankfurt, in a move to promote the development of related industri...

Air China Cargo has added two new air routes from its Shanghai hub to Amsterdam and Frankfurt, in a move to promote the development of related industries of cities in China.

The airline the opened the two new routes this month, opening the first flight from Shanghai Pudong to Amsterdam on March 13th and from Shanghai to Frankfurt on March 19th,  increasing the airline’s European capacity.

The two routes include stopovers at Zhengzhou (Amsterdam route) and Chongquing (Frankfurt route) for re-loading and unloading before departing for their destinations.

Titus Diu, the Chief Operating Officer of Air China Cargo, said, “The launching of Shanghai-Zhengzhou-Amsterdam and Shanghai-Chongqing-Frankfurt air routes further improves our freight airline network originating from Shanghai hub, optimizes the global layout of our air route network, and establishes a new fast passage for cargo transportation between China and Europe.

The opening of the routes increases Air China Cargo’s airfreight capacity in China-Europe air routes, which ‘consolidates its market position and further optimizes Frankfurt and Amsterdam hub routes pattern in the European market,’ according to an online statement by Air China Cargo.

The freight provider also hopes the network will promote the industrial development of related regions by increasing the speed of transportation.   

In addition to the operation of freight flights, Air China Cargo has constructed a ground trunk fight network and opened over 300 ground truck routes connecting over 130 cities of European countries, which centres on Frankfurt and Amsterdam, and can guarantee fast arrival and delivery of the goods from/to the European centres.

As of now, with Beijing and Shanghai as the hubs, Air China Cargo has opened international, national and regional freight flights which fly from Shanghai to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Zaragoza in Europe, New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles in USA, Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, as well as Taipei, Chengdu, Chongqing, Zhengzhou and Tianjin, etc.

Picture credit: AirChinaCargo.com

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Jun 19, 2021

Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried

Logistics
SCALA
supplychain
Brexit
Rob Wright, Executive Director...
4 min
Logistics professionals need urgent solutions to a shortage in drivers caused by a perfect storm of Brexit, COVID-19 and compounding economic factors

While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks. 

A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so. 

What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.

"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"


That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.

But where has this skills shortage stemmed from? 

Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.

COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.

It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing. 

So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done? 

Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change. 

Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.

Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line. 

On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains. 

Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months. 
 

Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector

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