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Bart Vlug – Kuehne + Nagel:
“Increase export to North America, Middle and Far East”
In March of this year, 14 per cent more freight was transported per airplane globally than in the same month a year previously. The last time the sector grew this rapidly was seven years ago. A positive mood in general, but can that positivity also be found among the transporters of fruit and vegetables? And which developments do they see?
Back to IATA’s figures, which illustrate the growth in the sector. “The optimism in the sector is returning,” responded a senior executive of the international aviation organisation. He indicated that the first quarter of this year showed a considerable growth. With the exception of Latin America, freight aviation increased in all regions. In this region, this type of transport decreased by just over four per cent. The biggest grower is Africa, where 35.5 per cent more freight chose the air. Europe also grew considerably by 18 per cent.
Bart Vlug, General Manager Airfreight for Kuehne + Nagel, confirms the growing trend of air transport. “That is the case for a number of products within Perishables, including fresh produce,” he responds. The international player in the transport sector is active in road, air and sea transport. Within the Benelux, the company deals with cargoes at the airports of Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Brussels and Antwerp. “We do Perishables with our own offices in Amsterdam and Brussels, and a little bit in Luxembourg,” Bart clarifies. “We also do business at other airports, for that matter, such as Maastricht Aachen Airport and Liège Airport, for example. We do this with partners.” However, the largest volumes arrive through Schiphol.
“Especially more expensive products are flown, including sliced products such as fruit salads, for example,” he continues. “Additionally, products that have to be available year-round of course, and that can’t be transported via sea transport. We also see ready-to-eat products are flown more often.”
Routes on which much freight is flown are Africa to Europe (the Netherlands), South America to Europe (the Netherlands), the Netherlands to the US and Canada, the Netherlands to the Middle East, Afrika and Asia. “We have seen an increase in export to North America and Canada, but also to the Middle East and the Far East.”
“The flying of products mostly occurs over long distances,” Bart explains. “It’s important that the total transit time is as short as possible, and that the product is transported under the best possible conditions. Certain lanes are fairly to well developed, but others are very challenging. We also see it as our job to advise and support our customers to realise the best possible conditions for their products.” Cooling the products plays an important part in that. Whether an airplane can cool the products in the hold is partially decided by the type of craft. Is the product flown in a passenger plane or a cargo plane? “It’s important to maintain the correct temperature,” Bart concludes. “This is the case for the entire stretch, from supplier to delivery. All players in the chain therefore play an important part in this. By means of our global Perishables network and Fresh Chain product we have a management position in this, and we often talk to chain partners to improve the quality of the refrigerated chain.”
Kuehne + Nagel
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