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Decathlon takes to the rails

DOURGES, France: November 16, 2017. Maersk Line and Damco, subsidiaries of A.P. Møller – Mærsk, have completed their first block train from Wuhan, China to Dourges, France this week on behalf of sports retailer Decathlon.

Maersk Damco block trainDamco arranged the train and Maersk provided the containers. The two companies said using rail from China to Europe provides a "complementary advantage" with ocean freight at a third of the cost of airfreight.

"Our analyses show that the block train not only achieves reliable lead times, but also provides customers with improved cargo visibility through GPS tracking," explained Damco's head of Rail, Kasper Krog.

"Furthermore, because CO2 emissions from rail services are typically 12 times lower than that of air transport, with the block train, we are able to offer a solution that is efficient, fixed timetable, cost effective, transparent, and with [a] comparatively lower impact on the environment," he added.

Decathlon said it noticed the improvement in rail services between China and Europe in 2016 and began shipping products by rail to warehouses in Europe in "around 20 days" to save money and CO2.

The sports retailer celebrated its fourth decade in business last year by opening new stores in Mexico, the Ivory Coast, Slovenia, Singapore and Malaysia - bringing the total number to 1,176; managed 45 logistics facilities to enable the sale of one billion items; and generated revenue of almost €10 billion, a 9.5 percent increase over 2015.

MIA director resigns

MIAMI: November 14, 2017. Miami-Dade County Aviation Department director and CEO Emilio González, the driving force behind much of Miami International Airport's recent expansion, has resigned effective February 01, 2018.

MIA Emilio GonzalezGonzález was first appointed in April 2013 and since then MIA has expanded its flight network that saw 44.6 million passengers pass through the airport last year –the largest number in its 89-year history.

During his 4.5 years as head of Miami's Aviation Department, González has overseen four general aviation airports in the Miami area, which together generate US$33.7 billion in business revenue and support more than 280,000 jobs; led the completion of a US$6.5 billion airports expansion program; the implementation of a new mobile passport facility to improve the Customs process; the introduction of a real-time cargo flight tracker for forwarders and truckers; and seen the airport recognized as the best freighter hub in the world in 2017 as cargo traffic grew 8.9 percent domestically and 3.2 percent internationally in the first eight months.

"I am extremely proud of all the incredible work Emilio has achieved in the four and a half years he has been a part of the Miami-Dade County family," said Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez. "Although I am saddened by Emilio's resignation, I understand he is eager to spend more time with his family and move forward in his professional career. In his years with Miami-Dade County, he has accomplished all his major objectives and I thank him for that and wish him, his wife Gloria, and his family nothing but the best."

González, who holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Miami, an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and a second M.A. in Strategic Studies and National Security Affairs from the U.S. Naval War College, said it had been a privilege to work "with the outstanding professionals" at Miami's Aviation Department.

"There is no higher professional calling than serving our fellow citizens and I am thankful to have been able to lead the Aviation Department and Miami International Airport. During this period, MIA has become an award-winning international economic powerhouse and global brand for both passenger and cargo services," he declared.

González said he was looking forward to spending the holidays with his family before embarking on a new career – adding to a resume that already includes a 26-year stint in the U.S. Army retiring with the rank of Colonel; director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House; and director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for Homeland Security.

Pictured: Emilio González introducing the MIA Cargo Flight Tracker at the Air Cargo Americas & SeaCargo Americas 2017 conference and exhibition earlier this month. "Thanks to this new tool, our local cargo industry can spend less time and money waiting in traffic for cargo shipments, because now they have real-time flight information at their fingertips," he said.

Qatar Airways takes Cathay Pacific stake

HONG KONG/DOHA: November 06, 2017. Qatar Airways is buying 9.6 percent of Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) for HK$5.16 billion (US$661 million). The shares are being sold by Hong Kong-based Kingboard Chemical Holdings.

The airline is acquiring 378,188,000 shares of CX held by Kingboard Chemical, Kingboard Investments and Kingboard Laminates.

CX  DOHAIn a statement Kingboard said it would realize a profit of HK$800million on the cash sale that is expected to close in Hong Kong on November 06.

Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said: "Qatar Airways is very pleased to complete its financial investment in Cathay Pacific." "Cathay Pacific is a fellow oneworld member and is one of the strongest airlines in the world, respected throughout the industry and with massive potential for the future."

In 2014 the two carriers signed an agreement to operate daily flights between Doha and Hong Kong. CX began flying to Doha (right) on March 30 of that year.

The Doha-based airline also holds a 20 percent stake in International Airlines Group (IAG), 10 percent in LATAM Airlines Group and a 49 percent shareholding in Italian regional airline Meridiana.

In August Qatar Airways announced it would not be buying a 7.5 percent stake in IAG oneworld partner American Airlines for an estimated US$808 million after its CEO Doug Parker said "we aren't particularly excited".

American has also canceled its codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways as of March 25, 2018.

Slower airfreight growth in 2018 says IATA

GENEVA: November 01, 2017. IATA reports a 9.2 percent increase in flown freight in September 2017 compared to the same month last year as capacity rose 3.9 percent – good news for airline yields and load factors, not so much for shippers looking for space.

Ethiopian ZanzibarDespite acknowledging the industry has passed a cyclical growth peak, IATA noted the year-to-date increase of 10.1 percent is a lot more than its original forecast of 7.5 percent for 2017.

Airlines in Africa topped the international freight tonne-kilometer (FTK) chart again with an annual increase of 18.1 percent followed by North American airlines with 11.0 percent year-on-year, European airlines at plus-10.6 percent, and airlines in Asia Pacific with an increase of 10.1 percent.

Middle Eastern airlines' FTK growth slowed to 9.0 percent year-on-year from 14.2 percent in August and reflects a short-lived weak period a year ago rather than a trend change said IATA, as annualized growth has averaged 8.0 percent over the past six months.

Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO said that while demand "remains stronger than anything we have seen in recent memory", the fact that it may have peaked means it is "even more important to reinforce the industry's competitiveness by accelerating the modernization of its many antiquated processes."

According to IATA economist David Oxley, the pick-up in global trade will provide an impetus for continued airfreight demand in 2018 although it will be "somewhat slower than the robust growth seen this year."

Pictured: Ethiopian has begun flying a B787-9 aircraft daily to Zanzibar via Kilimanjaro and will begin direct service from Addis Ababa three times a week next month.

Britain requires new aviation strategy with or without Brexit

LONDON: October 18, 2017. The Manchester Airports Group (MAG), owner of Manchester, London Stansted and the airfreight-focused East Midlands Airport, has called on the UK government to invest in better road and rail access to make them more competitive with Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris.

Despite the possibility a "hard Brexit" could mean "no flights" across EU airspace after March 2019, according to UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, MAG says Theresa May's government should execute an "ambitious plan" for improving international connectivity from UK airports as part of its vision for a new global Britain.

MAN airportMAG says rail improvements to London Stansted would attract more long haul routes and better access to global markets; a direct connection from Manchester Airport to the new high-speed (HS2) rail link between London and the industrial north of the country would support trade, investment and the creation of high-skilled jobs; and more investment in rail and road infrastructure around East Midlands Airport would enhance the role of air cargo in support of UK trade and advanced manufacturing.

MAG Corporate Affairs director Tim Hawkins commented: "Aviation generates £1 billion a week towards UK GDP, something that is made possible by the nearly one million people that work in and around the industry. The government can now provide a strong boost to the UK economy by making the best possible use of existing capacity at airports like Manchester and Stansted over the next 10 to 15 years," he added.

The local government-owned airport group says a successful UK aviation industry is required to deliver the government's vision of a "truly global Britain" after the country leaves the EU, and that encouraging key strategic airports across the UK to develop to their full potential would give investors the certainty they need for the country's future economic success.

MAG, which also owns Britain's Bournemouth Airport, handles more than 58 million passengers per annum, contributes £7.1 billion in Gross Value Added to the UK economy, and directly employs over 5,300 people and supports 40,000 jobs on its airport properties. East Midlands Airport is the largest airfreight hub in the UK and second only to Heathrow in total air cargo traffic (330,000 tons per annum).

The airport group says it has committed £1.6 billion to upgrade facilities at Manchester and Stansted.

Heathrow “misery” must end say forwarders

LONDON: November 01, 2017. The head of the UK's freight forwarder association says his members "want action, not words" to resolve congestion at Heathrow's cargo center.

Robert Keen, director general of the British International Freight Association, said increasing volumes at Heathrow are only making existing problems worse for companies: "Congestion is as bad as it has ever been and the local police are now turning away vehicles, leading to a huge rise in complaints from our members."

HEATHROW AAAs Heathrow's cargo throughput rose 10.5 percent to reach 1.25 million tons in the first nine months of 2017, its non-executive chairman Lord Deighton has announced a 10-step plan to reduce the CO2 emissions from trucks collecting and delivering air cargo at the airport.

"Heathrow is dedicated to keeping the UK economy growing – but at the same time, we have pledged to be a sustainability leader and made promises to our local communities that we intend to keep," said Deighton. "The ten steps we have outlined today allow us to keep building on our cargo strength and role as Heathrow's biggest port by value, while restricting the emissions and local impacts of freight vehicles.

"Through innovation, partnerships and our unwavering commitment to be a better neighbor, we are showing an expanded Heathrow is not a choice between the environment and the economy – we can deliver benefits for both," he declared.

Keen said Deighton's plan includes an online "load consolidation tool" app for forwarders, upgrading cargo infrastructure at the airport to facilitate additional airside transshipments, the provision of consolidation points away from airport's local roads, and the development of a new cargo village to help reduce unnecessary vehicle movements.

"We understand the airport will collaborate with local authorities to address congestion points with the introduction of a code of conduct for operators and a joint strategic freight plan for local roads," Keen observed, adding: "Our members, who currently are enduring misery on a daily basis when using the airport's cargo centre, want action not words."

Airlines increase support for endangered species

DOHA: October 18, 2017. Qatar Airways has joined Airlines for America, Delta, Emirates, IATA, Kenya Airways and United in the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) partnership.

In addition to airlines, ROUTES brings together international conservation organizations, donors and the U.S. government in a bid to disrupt the US$20 billion a year trafficking of 7,000 species of animals and plants.

According to a 2017 ROUTES report, 114 countries have recorded cases of wildlife trafficking at their airports in the past decade. The top five locations for trafficking of ivory, rhino horn, live birds and live reptiles (which collectively make up about two-thirds of all trafficked wildlife) are China, Thailand, UAE, Kenya and India.

elephantThe report discovered that nearly 50 percent of all smuggling attempts are via checked baggage, five percent as hand luggage and 14 percent as airfreight. This week security officials at Lahore airport, Pakistan arrested a man attempting to smuggle five falcons worth nearly US$50,000 on a flight to Qatar.

Last November IATA launched an Airport Wildlife Trafficking Assessment tool to help defeat smugglers of endangered species following the United for Wildlife Buckingham Palace Declaration by 40 major logistics organizations, NGOs, U.N. and government agencies to collaborate against the illegal trade.

The members, including Qatar Airways, have committed to receive and exchange credible information about high-risk routes and methods of transportation; to develop a secure system for passing information about suspected illegal wildlife trade from the transport sector to relevant Customs and law enforcement; and to notify relevant authorities of cargoes suspected of containing illegal wildlife and their products and, where able, refuse to accept or ship such cargoes.

ROUTES chair Michelle Owen commented: "We are thrilled that Qatar Airways is taking an increased leadership role against wildlife trafficking within the aviation sector. [The] ROUTES partnership is strengthened by the knowledge and motivation that members like Qatar Airways contribute."

Qatar Airways noted criminal organizations involved in wildlife trafficking are also connected to trafficking narcotics, arms and people: "We have a prominent position in establishing industry solutions to global threats, such as the illegal transportation of endangered wildlife," said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.

"Qatar Airways is proud to stand with other aviation industry leaders to state that we have zero tolerance for this criminal activity. As a result, we have devoted resources to raise awareness to not only eliminate wildlife trafficking, but to protect these creatures that we value," he added.

In June this year 12 more airlines signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration: TAP, Lao Airlines State Enterprise, China Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Aerovías de Mexico, Air Transat, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, KLM, Air France and EgyptAir.

Amazon to launch keyless home delivery

SEATTLE: October 25, 2017. Amazon will launch its 'Amazon Key' home delivery service for Prime members in 37 U.S. cities on November 08 at a one-time cost of US$249.99 that includes a Cloud Cam and one of several compatible smart locks by Yale and Kwikset.

The launch follows a 34 percent increase in Q3 net sales year-on-year to US$43.7 billion; a 40 percent decline in operating income to US$347 million; and net income of US$256 million – equal to the company's Q3 2016 result.

The new Amazon offering allows customers to have their packages delivered inside their home without having to be there. Using the app, a Prime member can track a delivery with real-time notification, watch the delivery happening live, or review a video of the delivery after it is complete.

Amazon KeyEach time a delivery driver requests access to a customer's home, Amazon checks the right driver is at the right address at the right time and once confirmed the Cloud Cam starts recording and the customer's door is unlocked without an access code or key.

"Amazon Key gives customers peace of mind knowing their orders have been safely delivered to their homes and are waiting for them when they walk through their doors," said Peter Larsen, Amazon vice president of Delivery Technology. "Now, Prime members can select in-home delivery and conveniently see their packages being delivered right from their mobile phones."

Amazon said its new keyless entry service will soon be connected to leading service brands including home cleaning experts from Merry Maids and pet sitters and dog walkers on Rover.com, as well as over 1,200 service providers across 60 professions via Amazon Home Services.

"Amazon Key will make it even easier to cross a major chore off your to-do list by letting the professionals at Merry Maids take care of the house cleaning while you're not home," added Nikhil Varty, CEO of parent company ServiceMaster.

The initial Amazon Key cities are: Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Cincinnati, OH, Cleveland, OH, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Houston, TX, Indianapolis, IN, Jacksonville, FL, Kansas City, KS, Los Angeles and Orange County, CA, Louisville, KY, Miami, FL, Milwaukee, WI, Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, Nashville, TN, Newark, NJ, Orlando, FL, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, Pittsburgh, PA, Portland, OR, Richmond, VA, Sacramento, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, San Antonio, TX, San Diego, CA, San Francisco Bay area, CA, Sarasota, FL, Seattle and Eastside, WA, St. Louis, MO, Tampa, FL and the Washington, DC metro area.

Amazon has reported a 34 percent increase in Q3 net sales year-on-year to US$43.7 billion; a 40 percent decline in operating income to US$347 million; and net income of US$256 million – equal to its 2016 Q3 result.

Britain should remain in the EU says OECD

LONDON: October 17, 2017. In its latest survey of the UK economy the OECD says the positive impact on growth "would be significant should Britain remain in the EU".

The tParis-based think-tank says a "disorderly Brexit" following a break-up of EU-UK negotiations, with no immediate prospect of a trading relationship, could trigger an adverse reaction on financial markets, push the foreign exchange rate to new lows and lead to sovereign debt rating downgrades.

This would lead to a business investment "seize up", rising prices, reduced private spending and increased pressure on financing the country's current account deficit.

Airbus  BombardierAt the same time the OECD says Scotland could vote to remain in the EU with another referendum, the Northern Ireland peace process could be threatened by a "hard border" with the Irish Republic, and the result would lead to "major negative economic impacts, hampering business and consumer confidence".

The OECD notes UK exports have not benefited significantly from a 20 percent fall in the value of Sterling since June 2016 and "the persistence of currency weakness could notably reflect financial market expectations about the longer-term cost for the UK economy of changes in its trading arrangements after Brexit."

The report explains that Britain's exports have a "low responsiveness" to exchange rate movements, due in part to increased participation in global value chains and a resultant high import content in exports: "This leads to a high pass-through of import prices into export prices, reducing scope for exporters to win market share following currency depreciation," it adds.

At the same time productivity gains have made no meaningful contribution to UK output performance since 2007, relying instead on higher employment and [more] hours worked per employee. Moreover, while the level of UK labor productivity is similar to the OECD average, it is about 20-25 percent lower than in the U.S, France and Germany.

"The United Kingdom is facing challenging times, with Brexit creating serious economic uncertainties that could stifle growth for years to come," said OECD secretary-general Ángel Gurría. "Maintaining the closest economic relationship with the European Union will be absolutely key, for the trade of goods and services as well as the movement of labor."

Last month the OECD projected the global economy would grow by 3.5 percent this year and 3.7 percent in 2018, with industrial production and trade picking up.

In the EU German GDP is forecast to grow 2.2 percent and 2.1 percent; France by 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent respectively; Italy 1.4 percent and a 1.2 percent; and Britain 1.6 percent in 2017 and just 1.0 percent next year. U.S. growth is estimated at 2.1 percent in 2017 and 2.4 percent in 2018.

(Pictured: Airbus has agreed to produce the Bombardier C Series aircraft from an Airbus assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama. The deal is expected to underwrite complex import and export supply chains linking existing facilities in Northern Ireland, Canada and the U.S.)

CMA CGM members add intra-Asia capacity

SINGAPORE: October 20, 2017. CMA CGM Group subsidiaries APL and Cheng Lie Navigation (CNC) have launched a new Korea China Straits (KCS) box service connecting China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Kaohsiung Terminal TaiwanThe weekly rotation will link Nansha in South China to the Straits of Singapore, Port Klang and Indonesia; provide transit between Indonesia and Manila; and call at Lianyungang in China's Jiangsu province.

APL said the launch of the service from Dalian on November 18 would include five Panamax vessels in a capacity sharing agreement with CNC and enable the carrier to reinforce its intra-Asia footprint.

Meanwhile on November 14 CNC is introducing its first direct service from four ports in China to Semarang, Indonesia; and from Xiamen to Ho Chi Minh and three port calls in Indonesia.

In a related move, APL has renewed its terminal lease at the Port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan (right) for another 10 years from January 01, 2018.

"Today, Intra-Asia container volume accounts for one- sixth of all containers moved globally. We see further growth prospects in this trade where APL is seeking to be a major player," said CEO Nicolas Sartini. "Our terminal in the Port of Kaohsiung will therefore be strategic for our advancement in Intra-Asia where we are connecting the key markets of Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam amongst others via the relay hub today."

The terminal is used by CMA CGM group vessels up to 14,000 TEU and has an annual capacity of 1.5 million containers.

Africa GDP growth of 3.7 percent in 2018

ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire: October 12, 2017. According to a new forecast from the African Development Bank (ADB), the continent's GDP is expected to grow 3.0 percent by the end of 2017, up from 2.2 percent last year, and a further 3.7 percent in 2018.

Abebe Shimeles, ADB acting director, Macroeconomics Policy, Forecasting and Research said the data reflects a bottoming out of commodity prices since 2014; the result of steady domestic demand and public infrastructure investments; and strong export performance and higher government [tax] revenues.

RMS St. Helena"Economic diversification and drive for structural transformation need to proceed with urgency and intensity in order to avoid the repeat of boom-bust cycle in the wake of commodity price volatilities," he added.

East Africa GDP is projected to grow by 5.4 percent and 5.8 percent in 2017 and 2018, followed by North Africa at 3.1 percent and 3.6 percent respectively, while better economic performance by South Africa is expected to boost Southern Africa regional growth to 2.3 percent by 2018.

West Africa GDP is forecast to growth 2.5 percent in 2017 and 4.0 percent next year due to improved oil production in Nigeria and rising global commodity prices.

The ADB noted that Central Africa GDP was slowed in 2016 by poor performance in Equatorial Guinea and Chad that contracted -7.3 percent and -6.4 percent, followed by the Republic of Congo at -2.4 percent, while the Central Africa Republic is expected to grow 1.6 percent and 3.1 percent in 2017/2018.

On October 14 South Africa regional airline SA Airlink began a weekly scheduled service with an Embraer ERJ-190 linking Johannesburg with the British Protectorate of St. Helena for the first time.

Built at a reported cost of £285 million, the island's new airport is meant to encourage tourism but with flights limited to smaller jets because of perennial cross-winds over the runway, the increase is likely to be capped at 4,000 visitors a year unless more airlines want to risk the 1,200 mile flight that currently routes via a fuel stop at Windhoek, Namibia.

The British government plans to withdraw a regular call by the RMS St. Helena (above) in February 2018 and put the passenger/cargo vessel up for sale. With a cargo capacity of 1,800 tons - including 92 TEU - plus 156 passengers, the ship has been operating the only link between Cape Town and St Helena/Ascension Island since 1990.

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