The automotive industry is investigating the possibility of scheduled airlifts of components into South Africa, Automotive Industry Development Centre logistics manager Barlow Manilal says.

The automotive industry is investigating the possibility of scheduled airlifts of components into South Africa, Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) logistics manager Barlow Manilal says.

According to , congestion at South African ports are among several factors affecting the reliability of goods movement into the country. Manilal says scheduled airlifts could be an alternative to the current ad-hoc emergency booking of air cargo space by South African manufacturers of fully-built-up models.

“Products are air-freighted because of inefficiencies in the supply chain, or stock being lost or damaged in a plant," said Manilal.

The initiative might initially involve a scheduled airlift between South Africa and Germany, to serve companies such as Volkswagen SA, BMW SA and DaimlerChrysler SA. However, Manilal added that there was a distinction between the existing economically viable air cargo and the crisis service envisaged.

"Components such as high-value navigation systems and electronic keys are designated to be flown in... We (the AIDC) are saying: let's try and unify the industry. Why can't we establish a flight which is dedicated to automotive components from Europe to Johannesburg?" he asked.

If such a flight could be organised every other day, it would help South African manufacturers to plan for crises better, to consolidate and thus to obtain better rates than the premium prices currently charged for emergency air freight, Manilal added.

"The response has been very positive, and the AIDC wants to co-ordinate it as a project, which would be put out to tender to a commercial company. But projects like this don't happen overnight."

BMW SA chief executive Ian Robertson was quoted as saying outbound flights from South Africa could carry leather automotive products, which do not travel well by sea, while there could be inbound emergency cargo for the vehicle assembly lines in SA. "A year ago, we had a problem with bumpers, which had to be brought in by air," he said.

"If there is a strike in east Germany, which delays production of components, some will have to be air-freighted in," Robertson added.

The Naamsa president said BMW, Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler had been looking at pooling their resources and using a single aircraft when they needed to fly in material.

Original article from Car