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AIR CARGO FOCUSAIRPORTS


trucks airside at both airports, and crane cargo straight from the truck into the aircraft; this is not always possible at an airport like London Heathrow, for example.”


Not all plain sailing


At Rockford, Ryan stated that the use of air freight as part of a planned logistics operation is too costly for most industries to contemplate. “Oversize cargo that is being flown is, as a general rule, the result of some form of urgent need, because it is very expensive to fly a large item. It can take up a whole aircraft, plus you have to get it to the airport and if it is extremely wide, for example, then it will have to be trucked with an escort or only go during the day and so on. One industry that does use charters on a regular basis is oil and gas, especially in places like Houston. But generally people still move whatever they can by ocean, and use air freight as things get urgent.” According to Infratil’s McQuarrie: “If an oil rig is losing millions of dollars a day because it is not producing, then paying half a million for a charter to get it fixed still makes sense.” Nonetheless: “A lot of project cargo is


If an oil rig is losing millions of dollars a day because it is not producing, then paying half a million for a charter to get it fixed still makes sense. – Allan McQuarrie, Infratil Airports Europe


going by sea now because it is cheaper. You have got to take into account that ocean liners are getting bigger and faster – taking days instead of weeks to do the same journey. Also a lot of airlines are setting up freighter divisions and doing part charters: Cargolux


might do a part charter via Luxembourg into Aberdeen. Plus, planes can carry more in their bellyhold space now – the B777 passenger aircraft can carry 40 tonnes, perhaps not a huge piece of equipment but still a lot of cargo. This is a trend that will continue.” Indeed, Infratil faces competition from continental airports because of the security restrictions in place in the UK, although these are changing now. McQuarrie explained: “Obviously you cannot put an outsize shipment through an X-ray machine. In Europe you can put dogs over the freight, but in the UK we have the Department for Transport REST (Remote Explosive Scent Tracing) procedures, which use air samples to secure the cargo. This is similar to using dogs directly, but you have to make the freight airtight before you can take the air sample, which costs a lot of money – so it can be cheaper to truck the cargo to Europe, to an airport like Paris-Vatry in France, or Liège and Ostend in Belgium, for example. “Other airports are hungry for business just like we are, so we have got to keep pushing to get whatever we can. You can compete on rates, of course, but you have got to make money too,” he concluded.


HLPFI


www.heavyliftpfi.com


Supplement July/August 2013


93


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