49-52/2019 The race is on
Berlin airport now has a new yardstick by which to measure its completion. The construction phase of the larger projects in Istanbul (see also page 12 of ITJ 17-18 / 2019) and Beijing (see also page 9 of the Aviation Special in ITJ 43-44 / 2019) began later and ended earlier than in the German capital. Now Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, has chosen the Berlin region, of all places, to locate his new European ‘giga’ factory. Malicious voices have joked that the ‘concept of a completely CO2-neutral airport’ convinced the South African. The construction phase of Musk’s project is set to start and be completed... next year. The latest date for the opening of BER airport is also 31 October 2020 – a mere nine years behind schedule. E-mobility for the roads or aviation – we’ll see who wins the race. Next year. Or perhaps a little later after all.
The airfreight industry also has its technological visionaries. Lionel van der Walt, another South African, is one of them. On page 22 you can read my interview with him, conducted in Miami recently, and learn more about the reasons for PayCargo’s success and its prospects.
The global airfreight association Tiaca recently focused on improving the industry’s sustainability factor by calling on all of its members to act in concert in Budapest. You can read our report from the executive summit on page 15.
Allow me to close the year with a look to the future. Researchers from Brazil, Germany, Malaysia and Austria illustrated recently how giant airships could revolutionise long-distance goods transportation. They have floated the idea of 2.4 km long hydrogen-filled freighters that could circumnavigate the globe in 14 – 16 days with more than 20,000 t of goods on board. For added security they have envisaged unmanned and fully-automated operations, which would additionally go particularly easy on the environment because they would make use of the jet streams at approximately 36.5°N and 30.5°S. But there is an urgent need to reach transport’s hydrogen age, as the rampant climate warming is changing the characteristics of earth’s atmospheric layers. This not only results in less white Christmasses in the northern hemisphere, but has also depleted the jet stream somewhat.
Here’s to a peaceful end of the year with inspiring reading – yours,
Head of airfreight