European group ATC Aviation merges with Platinum USA
Following a merger negotiation spanning over two years, the ATC Group has merged with Houston-based general-sales-agent (GSA) Platinum Air Cargo USA, in an expansion that puts the European firm in a top position among the worldwide leading GSAs.
ATC will assume Platinum’s existing US office network of eight company owned stations, among them Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and two offices in New York. An office in Washington, DC will be opened in January as the ninth US office, coinciding with the launch of ATC and Platinum partner Etihad’s direct Washington DC – Abu Dhabi service.
According to a statement released by the ATC Group, Platinum USA will gradually transition its brand over the coming year and will operate solely under the name of its new parent ATC by the end of 2013. Both GSAs continue to offer their partner airlines tailored global and regional cargo management and sales solutions.
The merger between Platinum USA and ATC has been negotiated over the past two years and was finally sealed between Christmas and New Year. ATC’s CEO Ingo Zimmer stated on the company website: “I am very pleased that after many intensive discussions, we have reached an agreement which strengthens both companies and which offers the combined enterprise more promising market perspectives.”
“The ultimate winner of this merger will be our airline clients,” notes Platinum’s US founder and President Don Cochran. “They will greatly benefit from the uniform, integrated global network that our merger with ATC brings, as well as our intended IT harmonization with ATC’s global integrated IT platform.” Cochran will maintain an equity stake in Platinum USA, and will become the Managing Director of ATC’s new US subsidiary that will remain headquartered in Houston, Texas.
With the merger, the ATC Group extends its global reach quite considerably. The merger is also favourable for the North and Latin America focused Platinum US team, as they will gain direct access to additional markets where the ATC Group is already well established. These markets include most of the EU countries, South Africa, China and India.
“Over the past ten years, Platinum has established itself as the premier GSA in the US, and this team is extremely well positioned for future growth opportunities in the Americas. The synergies gained from the combination of Platinum USA with the ATC Group means that Platinum USA is taking the next big leap in becoming a truly global actor," said Zimmer.
The acquisition will not result in staff cuts at ATC in Europe, or Platinum in the US, and will offer both entities an opportunity for further growth. The merger between Platinum Air Cargo USA LLC and ATC will not materially affect UK based Platinum Air Cargo Holdings Ltd, which will remain independently owned and operated in the UK and throughout other parts of Europe.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.