May 17, 2020

Gulf Air receives $490.6m from Bahraini ruler

Gulf Air
IATA
e-freight
Air Waybills
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Gulf Air hopes to create an e-Freight center by 2014
Follow @WDMEllaCopeland Bahraini Airline Gulf Air has announced it will receive $490.6 million (185 million Bahraini Dinars) in new funding, following...

 

Bahraini Airline Gulf Air has announced it will receive $490.6 million (185 million Bahraini Dinars) in new funding, following the announcement of a Royal Decree by the Bahraini Ruler, King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa.

 

The funds will recaptialise the airline, which currently operates at a loss, in order to secure it’s long term sustainability. Working together with the Government of Bahrain and it’s shareholder, Mumtalakat, the airline will review its existing fleet and network. Gulf Air will implement an accelerated strategy and aggressive restructuring programme to achieve more dramatic cost and liability reductions following a difficult year in 2011.

 

There is speculation as to whether this move will save the troubled airline, which  has struggled with an increase in fuel prices and a ban on travel by several countries which has severly decimated passenger numbers.

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The carrier announced a move to electronic air waybills today, which will replace the previous paper based waybills.

The first cargo shipment under the e-AWB was moved from Bahrain to Dubai recently joining the ranks of a very few e-Freight capable airlines in the region. The airline hope to turn their Bahrain hub into a complete e-freight station by mid-2014, a move which will be supported by the Bahrain Civil Aviation Authority, Bahrain Airport Company, Bahrain Airport Services and freight forwarders in tune with IATA’s vision of achieving 100 percent e-freight by 2015.

International Air Transport Authority (IATA) Regional Vice President for Middle East and North Africa Hussein Dabbas said: “IATA congratulates Gulf Air on its first e-AWB shipment and becoming only the third Gulf-based airline to achieve this capability.

“The e-AWB is a crucial step towards adoption of full e-Freight, which replaces up to 20 paper documents with electronic versions for every shipment. E-Freight increases the speed and security of air cargo, which will serve to benefit world trade and economic growth,” he explained.

The e-AWB will be introduced across Gulf Air’s network progressively in the coming months as it requires parties in the entire supply chain such as freight forwarders, airlines, handling agents and customs authorities to modify their systems capable of accepting and approving e-AWB information.

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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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