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  March 4th, 2019 | Written by


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  • “There are challenges facing customs authorities in countries that have strategic locations.”
  • “Thanks to our inspectors’ vigilance, we are closely in full control of all checkpoints.”
  • If you can’t identify what makes a carrier or airline significant, it might be time to reconsider market options.

Sourcing the best airport connection can be tough when big-name companies such as Amazon Air continue to announce expansions to create and delegate more space for operations. As a prime example, Amazon Air is aggressively taking over regions in the Midwest and South through increased fulfillment centers and expanding air cargo capabilities.

Back in December, Amazon Air confirmed the expansion investment of the Chicago Rockford Airport region by 120,000 square feet to make room for an additional eight-plus planes. The quickly growing logistics network Amazon prides itself in is provided with all the tools needed to continue leveraging growth momentum. Additionally, the company is not afraid to call out the need for the potential threat the expansion poses to competitors UPS and FedEx by adding that such competitive disruption is necessary.

Additionally, Amazon announced plans to expand its network in the Lone Star State at the Lonestar Dallas Air Hub, projecting “to handle multiple flights daily” that “will be tailored specifically to Amazon Air’s larger-scale regional needs.” A Morgan Stanley report estimates that “Amazon’s volumes moving onto Amazon Air are costing UPS/FDX Air roughly 200-300 bps of volume growth.”

Consider the substantial air-cargo growth reported for Budapest Airport. Most recently, the Central European hub confirmed record rates of double-digit growth for three years straight. It seems every time Budapest Airport makes the news, it’s to report on higher growth rates from before.

“These latest figures are exciting as they represent three years of uninterrupted double-digit growth at the airport,” says René Droese, Budapest Airport’s director of Property and Cargo. “We are focusing all our efforts to make good use of the ideal conditions in Budapest and turn Liszt Ferenc International Airport into a major cargo logistics hub for the Central-Eastern European region. For this, we are establishing appropriate technical, security and traffic conditions; the relevant projects entered the phase of implementation last year, and we can successfully complete them this year. As a first step we handed over a 16,000 m2 new cargo warehouse and office capacity for our integrator partners in 2017; their traffic has been constantly developing for years.”

To continue these significant growth rates for 2019, the airport is preparing a new cargo apron to house and simultaneously operate two Boeing B-747-8F freighters.

“The combined value of this development effort in 2019 reaches EUR46 million and is financed by Budapest Airport itself,” Droese notes. “Our goal is to deliver, by the end of this year, an ideal cargo infrastructure for all segments of our well-balanced customer portfolio, for full freighters, belly cargo, integrators and roader feeder trucking, too.”

The common denominator is proactive efforts to leverage and increase the momentum before it’s too late. Key considerations include regional advantages, current and potential partnerships, operational efficiencies and even integrating technology solutions that streamline communications and transports.

“Rising demand is illustrated by the fact that last year a number of widebody and jumbo freighters were being loaded at the airport each day, including Boeing B-747s operated by Cargolux, AirBridgeCargo and Silk Way West, and Airbus A300s, A310s, A330s used by Turkish Cargo and Qatar Airways Cargo,” Droese says.

Many might recall the June 2018 Air Cargo Advance Screening Program mandating foreign shipments to be subject to providing a laundry list of pre-arrival cargo data when the U.S. is the final destination, per measures from the Department of Homeland Security. Strict screenings such as these have been implemented globally, as recently reported for Dubai Customs, which prides itself on significant progress in performance due to the advanced infrastructure as well as supportive government policies assisting in facilitating global trade efforts. The success is also paired with a proactive approach involving careful evaluation and research of trade trends.

Director of Dubai Customs, Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, explains: “We have an integrated strategy in place to develop the external trade performance further following the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, and along with the guidelines of Dubai Plan 2021 and the UAE Centennial 2071. We are watching closely the changes taking place in the international trade and we will turn challenges into opportunities by entering new markets and expanding our existing ones.”

More recently, however, Dubai Customs reported several cases where significant smuggling attempts were stopped because of the diligence and seamless communication strategies in place. One report identified 922 successfully prevented smuggling attempts, of which 38.5 percent were drug contrabands. Even more interesting is the time-frame the attempts occurred: between January and September of 2018.

“Thanks to our inspectors’ vigilance, we are closely in full control of all checkpoints,” explains Ibrahim Al Kamali, Dubai Customs’ director of Passenger Operations. “Our inspection officers receive the best training on body language and different types of drugs, and how to distinguish fake brands from genuine ones.”

“There are challenges facing customs authorities in countries that have strategic locations,” Musabih points out. “Dubai is not an exception. It’s strategically located between East and West, and it has spent billions of dirhams to develop its infrastructure, ports and airports.

“The Emirate has also provided an unprecedented host of services and products, including the iDeclare application which significantly reduces passengers’ time needed to declare different belongings. These advanced services will facilitate passengers’ entry into the country.”

From security and trust to reliability and competition, sourcing the best carrier and airport connection needs to align with customer needs, the types of products being transported, and compliance efforts for the region. Just because an airline is associated with a big brand does not guarantee a seamless transport of goods.

Conduct necessary research and review updated reports to learn and identify an airline’s strengths and areas of improvement. No two carriers are the same, and the options available depend on the amount of knowledge you have going in and what fits your long-term and short-term needs. Consider the partnerships involved with the airline of your choice and how these partnerships create competitive advantage. If you can’t identify what makes a carrier or airline significant, it might be time to reconsider market options.