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LONDON: December 13, 2017. The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), supported by Barclays, BNP Paribas, Sainsbury's, Sappi, Standard Chartered and Unilever, has launched a pilot project to test blockchain technology to reward supply chain management sustainability.

The year-long project, which has secured private and public funding of more than £600,000, will trial the concept by using a shared data system for tea farmers in Malawi that supply Unilever and UK-based supermarket Sainsbury's.

The technology works by gathering and recording standardized information from farmers about their produce, including production quality and price, using virtual identifiers that are encoded on a blockchain, making the supply – and its sustainability information – traceable and transparent.

tea-pickingThe partners believe the blockchain application has the potential to ultimately benefit not only 10,000 farmers in Malawi but also 1.5 billion families who depend on small-scale agriculture worldwide.

The technology has been developed by blockchain-based supply chain services firm Provenance and Halotrade, which uses smart contracts and algorithms to convert supply chain data into preferential pricing terms in banks' systems.

Supported by Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), key to the success of the pilot will be whether it can provide companies and banks with Sustainability data in order to offer preferential terms or access to credit for growers.

"This technology has the real potential to help banks access more detailed and more reliable information about social and environmental impacts in a secure way, throughout the entire supply chain," said Marguerite Burghardt, head of the BNP Paribas Trade Finance Competence Center.

"This will enable financial institutions to broaden the scope of their financing offers and to propose financial incentives to their customer clients, based on their environmental and social standards," she added.

For banks the technology could mean better oversight of transactions as well as enabling compliance with regulations such as the Modern Slavery Act and Bribery Act. This in turn would attract investors and clients concerned with Sustainability impacts according to CISL.

"This innovative new technology will help us to increase sustainable sourcing, enhance the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers we work with around the world, and help to make sustainable agriculture mainstream," commented Unilever CMO and head of Sustainable Business Keith Weed. "We have an important role to play in providing healthy food from a healthy planet, and we're proud to be working with industry leaders on new technologies to bring us closer to this goal."

The project was originally developed by a fintech taskforce and launched at a summit hosted by CISL patron HRH The Prince of Wales.

MINNEAPOLIS: December 13, 2017. American bricks-and-mortar retailer Target Corp. is to purchase Shipt, an online same-day domestic delivery platform, for US$550 million in cash.

Founded in 2014 and located in Birmingham, Alabama, Shipt is a membership-based grocery marketplace supported by 20,000 personal shoppers.

The move, one of the largest acquisitions in the company's history, will provide Shipt delivery services of groceries, essentials, home and electronics at about half of Target stores beginning early next year.Shipt

"With Shipt's network of local shoppers and their current market penetration, we will move from days to hours, dramatically accelerating our ability to bring affordable same-day delivery to guests across the country," said John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Target. "By the 2018 holiday season, we will be servicing every major market across the country with same-day delivery," he added.

By April next year Target customers will be able to visit Shipt.com to see if same-day delivery is available from their local store for an annual fee of US$99.00.

Founded in 2014 and based in Birmingham, Alabama Shipt is a membership-based grocery service that leverages its personal shopper network in over 72 U.S. markets to fulfill and deliver orders from local retailers within hours.

According to founder and CEO Bill Smith, what sets his company apart from competitors is a reliance on local shoppers: "For instance, we make sure that the same person who shops for our customers' items is also the person who delivers those items. We also recently built a rating system that allows customers to give feedback in real-time. If they rate a shopper highly, they are more likely to be paired with them again."

In addition to same-day delivery, Target will also leverage Shipt's expertise as the company strengthens its supply chain, including integration with the recently acquired last-mile transportation technology company, Grand Junction.

Pictured: Shipt CEO and founder Bill Smith (center) with Target Chief Operating Officer John Mulligan (left) and CEO Brian Cornell.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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