Qatar Airways Cargo adds three new destinations to network
Qatar Airways Cargo has commenced operations to three new freighter destinations, Lagos, Accra and Guangzhou, with all three routes being served by the Airbus A330 freighter.
Freighters to Lagos and Accra commenced on 6 December. The twice weekly freighter service operates from Doha to Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and then onward to Accra’s Kotoka International Airport, with a scheduled stop in Europe before returning to Doha. In addition, thrice-weekly direct freighters to Guangzhou commenced on 3 December.
Ulrich Ogiermann, Qatar Airways Chief Officer Cargo said: “There is clearly huge potential in the West African states of Nigeria and Ghana as well as China. Our focus is to improve connectivity and provide a growing network of destinations and quality operations to our customers.
“With the introduction of scheduled freighter services to Lagos, Accra and Guangzhou, Qatar Airways Cargo will be able to provide air transportation services to even more industries worldwide on our growing network of more than 140 destinations.”
Lagos is Nigeria's economic focal point and exports include petroleum and petroleum products, cocoa and rubber, while imports include textiles, manufactured goods, food, machinery and transport equipment.
The Ghana economy is based on agriculture and industry. Major exports out of Accra include agricultural produce, oil, gold, cocoa, timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminium, manganese ore, diamonds and horticultural products, while imports include capital equipment and refined petroleum. Ghana is projected to become the largest producer of cocoa in the world and is the seventh largest producer of gold in the world.
Guangzhou is an important industrial base in China and the comprehensive industrial manufacturing centre of South China. Guangzhou's major exports include high-end manufacturing products, high-tech products, biotechnology, aerospace technology, software, and automobiles, while imports include garments, auto parts, fashion accessories, pharmaceuticals and perishables. The largest trade fair in China, the China Import and Export Fair, also called the Canton Fair, is held in Guangzhou every year.
In addition to the new routes, Qatar Airways Cargo recently expanded its frequencies to freighter destinations Erbil, Kolkata, Delhi and Istanbul, thereby providing a capacity boost to these routes. An additional frequency was also added on the Houston-Liege-Doha freighter route. Furthermore, from this month onwards, freighter frequencies are being increased to Brussels, Chennai, Johannesburg, Nairobi and Shanghai.
It has been a highly productive year for Qatar Airways Cargo with the launch of QR Pharma for pharmaceuticals and healthcare products and QR Fresh for perishable products; the migration to the fully automated, state-of-the-art cargo facility at Hamad International Airport; and the launch of 11 freighter destinations in 2014. Lagos, Guangzhou and Accra will bring up the total dedicated freighter destinations to 46.
Qatar Airways Cargo serves more than 40 exclusive freighter destinations worldwide via its Doha hub and also delivers freight to 146 key business and leisure destinations globally on 142 aircraft. The Qatar Airways Cargo fleet now includes four Airbus 330 and seven Boeing 777 freighters.
At the Dubai Airshow 2013, Qatar Airways placed a firm order for five new Airbus A330-200 freighters. Also included in the order were eight additional A330-200F options, for a total of 13 aircraft. At the recent Farnborough Show, Qatar Airways announced its intent to order four 777 freighters and options for four more.
For more Qatar Airways Cargo information, please click here: http://www.qatarairways.com/global/en/press-release.page?pr_id=pressrelease_cargo-new-destinations-101214
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
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