Issue 4 2021 - Freight Business Journal

31 Engage reverse thrust

Steady growth in global aerospace came to a screeching halt early in 2020 as swingeing travel bans were imposed in an attempt to combat the Covid outbreak. How have the logistics companies that service the industry coped?

have not significantly reduced defence budgets. Meanwhile, the number of

The steady growth in the world aerospace market came to an abrupt halt in the early part of last year as the Covid crisis unfolded. A recent report by The Business Research Company suggested that while the global aerospace market reached a value of nearly $342.4 billion in 2019, having increased at a compound annual growth

rate of 3.1% since 2015, it was expected to decrease from $342.4 billion in 2019 to $296.1 billion in 2020 – a fall of -14%. The decline was of course due to lockdown and social distancing and its effect on the air travel market. The report’s authors did

however see a recovery and subsequent growth again of

Repair work keeps U-Freight busy

Inevitably, the drastic reduction in flying during the pandemic has affected aerospace logistics but U-Freight remains busy in specific niches of activity, says Bill Rauld, sales manager, Latin America. There has, inevitably, been a fall-

off in movements of urgent AOG (aircraſt on ground) parts needed to get planes that have “gone technical” flying again. With fewer planes in the air, such events have become less frequent. And, with so much of the world’s aircraſt fleet currently grounded, when planes do go technical, the preferred solution may be to lay it up and use another, still-operational member of the fleet rather than carry out a repair.

Eventually, grounded aircraſt

will return to the air at some time, says Rauld, but with a return to full flying still many months off, airlines and leasing companies can take a measured approach to repairing planes. Moreover, current sky-high airfreight rates are hardly conducive to flying parts expensively around the world, he points out. While there are signs that life

is being breathed back into the global airline industry – in the US, where some domestic travel restrictions have been liſted, planes between Miami and the US West Coast are fully booked despite the replacement of the usual narrow- bodied with wide-bodied planes,

Rauld says – it will probably take a while before U-Freight’s aerospace business returns to full strength. First, the airlines will need

to get all their planes back into the air. Then, it will probably be a little while before demand for AOG spares fully picks up again, so normality is unlikely to return much before the third quarter of 2022, in his estimation. The crystal ball becomes even

cloudier aſter that time horizon. It could be that airlines will be unable to afford shiny new aircraſt, meaning that those that do fly are older and will need more spare parts, more oſten. On the other

hand, we may all be flying less, which would mean lower demand for spares. However, where spare parts are

still urgently required, U-Freight does have an advantage in certain markets where customs clearance is an issue, he adds: “We can clear and deliver parts within three hours of landing, compared with the usual delay of 24-36 hours if you use a courier company, which can matter a great deal when time is of the essence.” The large integrators might make

promises of absolutely, positively getting things there, backed up by multi-million dollar advertising

6.5% a year from 2021, though that is very dependent on the success of vaccine programmes and liſting of travel restrictions on at least some air corridors. Another analyst, Deloitte also

sees the beginning of a recovery in global air transport demand in 2021 but expects it to be slow, as travel demand is not expected to return to pre–Covid levels before 2024. However, it adds that the defence segment of the market is expected to remain stable in 2021, as most countries

civil airlines expected to go out of business is expected to increase, although this is a very dynamic industry and new start-ups can be expected to replace at least some of those that have fallen by the wayside. But if planes are not flying to the extent that they once were, that will inevitably be translated into reduced demand for aircraſt parts and components, whether they are for building new planes or keeping existing ones flying. As Boeing vice president of

commercial services business development told the Aviation Week Aſtermarket Strategies webinar on

21 April, the

industry is currently grappling with

a significant downturn

and the outcome of the current situation is still unclear: “We are not at the end of this crisis,” he said, adding, however: “We are some way off recovery.” It is though a complex

industry. Many of Boeing’s customers are currently reconfiguring their market strategies and one factor that has emerged recently is an increased demand for freighter

campaigns, but the reality is that for really rapid clearances, a forwarder like U-Freight that has made special arrangements with local Customs can usually to the job much faster, says Rauld. In many markets, U-Freight

has made arrangements to pre- clear aircraſt parts in advance, while the incoming aircraſt is still in the air and the customer will have paid the oſten heſty customs duties in advance, meaning that the operation can literally hit the ground running. U-Freight can and does deliver

parts of any size, up to and including complete replacement engines on specialist crates. It also undertakes the usually less urgent return of the defective engine to wherever it is to be repaired. The other U-Freight aerospace

activity that has help up strongly has been the repair of aircraſt involved

in relatively minor

planes; indeed Boeing itself has significantly increased its production of all cargo aircraſt, one of the few segments of the market that can with confidence be predicted to grow in the near future. The business jet segment

is also doing relatively well, Alexandre Avila - global head of

strategy, programs and

innovation at small plane maker Embraer – told the same webinar. Part of this is also fuelled by conversions of business jets to freighters, although some of it may be due to the curtailment of scheduled air services.

accidents and incidents, such as runway overshoots or heavy landings, generally in remote parts of the world and where there is no alternative but to repair the plane in situ. In such situations, once the

airline, leasing company and their insurers have decided that a repair is feasible and economically viable, U-Freight’s aerospace team swings into action, shipping over portable hangars

capable of


aircraſt of up to 747 size in two or three seafreight containers, along with all the specialised tools to carry out the repair. The hangars are built up from

aluminium frames and tarpaulin covers over the stricken aircraſt, allowing the engineers to get to work. Any parts used in the operation

are customs cleared and duty paid while tools and the hangar are imported on a temporary carnet.

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