Qatar Cargo start to Land in Latin America
Qatar Airways Cargo has started operating its twice-weekly freighter service to Mexico City.
This new dedicated cargo route, which begun on 11 June, will mark the start of Qatar Airways Cargo operations in Latin America.
Qatar Airways Chief Officer Cargo, Ulrich Ogiermann said: “The first Qatar Airways Cargo flight to Mexico was a historic moment for us, as it heralds the beginning of our operations in Latin America,
“This is yet another important milestone for us, and it demonstrates that we are well on track towards becoming a world-class air cargo service provider with international reach.
“Our customers can rely on our extensive network of more than 40 exclusive freighter destinations worldwide, in addition to the freight delivered on our 134 passenger aircraft to 140 key business and leisure destinations globally.” he added.
Qatar Airways Vice President Cargo for Americas, Ian Morgan said: “Mexico has one of the world's largest economies, and it boasts one of the most developed manufacturing sectors in Latin America. The new dedicated service will create new and exciting opportunities for businesses in Mexico and beyond.”
Qatar Airways Cargo operate the twice-weekly service between Doha and Mexico City’s Licenciado Benito Juarez International Airport, using the Boeing 777 freighter.
Freighters depart from Doha’s state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport on Wednesdays and Sundays, and from Mexico on Mondays and Thursdays subject to schedule conformation.
Major exports from Mexico include cars and vehicle parts, consumer electronics (televisions, mobile phones, LCD displays), oil and oil-derived products, silver, perishables and pharmaceuticals.
Qatar Airways Cargo recently strengthened its product portfolio with the launch in January of two new premium services that optimise the transportation of time and temperature sensitive goods, including high-value pharmaceutical products and perishables.
The new services, QR Pharma and QR Fresh, add to the company’s substantial range of cargo services and further enhance its capacity and flexibility to effectively move sensitive commodities in line with the highest world-class standards.
On 1 December 2013, the first Qatar Airways Cargo shipment was received at the new cargo facility at Hamad International Airport. The enormous, state-of-the-art facility, spanning 55,000 square metres, contains a perishables storage area, amongst other key facilities, such as a live animal centre and dangerous goods area. The new self-contained terminal will handle 1.4 million tonnes of cargo per annum.
For further information visit: www.qatarairways.com
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