Fruit, pharmaceuticals, priceless art. That’s just some of the cargo that will soon be moving between Southern California and Qatar on Saturday when Qatar Airways starts air freight service between Los Angeles International Airport and the airport in the Qatari capital of Doha.

Starting April 4, the airline will deliver and pick up cargo between the two locations twice a week. LAX is one of 11 new destinations for the airline’s cargo service.

“Our customers are growing and they need a stable partner to make this growth happen,” said Ulrich Ogiermann, Qatar Airways’ chief cargo officer.

Flights will leave Doha on Wednesdays and Saturdays and arrive at LAX after stops in Luxembourg and Mexico. They will depart from LAX for the Middle Eastern country the same day.

Ogiermann said cargo flights will bring fruit, vegetables, flowers and seafood from Los Angeles to the Middle East, while machinery, pharmaceuticals, apparel and textiles will move in the opposite direction. The airline has equipped jets for LAX flights with new temperature-controlled containers to keep fresh produce, flowers and pharmaceuticals at constant temperatures.

He also expects the flights to carry lots of art: Oil-rich Qatar has more wealth per capita than any other nation, and the airline regularly transports art collections among Qatari museums and the world. Ogiermann said the airline expects to move art collections between private donors, collectors and museums on the LAX flights, too.

While Qatar Airways flies passengers as well as cargo into a handful of U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Dallas, the new LAX service is for cargo only.

Air freight through LAX rose 12.4 percent in January over a year ago, but it was likely driven by importers bringing in goods by air to avoid the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which were tied up over the past few months by contentious labor negotiations. In 2014, more than 2 million tons of air cargo moved through LAX, up 3.8 percent from the prior year. It was the first time since the recession that the airport topped the 2 million-ton mark.

New Fuel

Greek marine fuel reseller Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc. saw an opportunity to expand into the U.S. shipping market when three U.S. subsidiaries of bankrupt Danish marine fuel provider OW Bunker filed for bankruptcy themselves in November.

The following month, Aegean bought the leftover fuel that OW Bunker had stored at an L.A. port terminal, and now the company is selling marine fuel to ships docking at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

This marks Aegean’s second foray into the United States; it acquired the East Coast marine fuel business of New York’s Hess Corp. in 2013.

Triple Play

Shipping companies are bringing increasingly massive ships into the local ports, and earlier this month one port terminal had three such ships docked at once – a first.

APM Terminals at Pier 400 in the Port of Los Angeles simultaneously unloaded three container ships, each capable of carrying 13,000 cargo containers, docked at the pier between Feb. 22 and March 7. It was the first time any U.S. port terminal handled three ships of that size at once.

The ships were the MSC Flavia and the MSC Renee, both owned by Mediterranean Shipping Co., and the COSCO Harmony.

APM Managing Director Steven Trombley said that all three ships were alongside Pier 400 for two days. Workers unloaded cargo from the ships and loaded it onto trains in nine days.

Short Hauls

Axis Global Logistics of Maspeth, N.Y., sees growth in the L.A. area’s logistics market and has opened a fulfillment warehouse in Compton. The 45,000-square-foot warehouse, at 345 West Victoria St., has 14 dock doors and is set up for warehousing and distribution. The company also provides more than 1 million square feet of space in East Los Angeles through a local partnership. “Many of our clients and prospective clients are headquartered in (Compton) and have growing needs,” said Thomas Vassallo, managing partner of Axis. … Pleasanton environmental remediation firm Reterro Inc. said it has opened a San Pedro office, its fifth location, to serve increasing demand in Southern California. The company cleans contamination at construction sites so that trucks don’t have to haul away tainted soil. Recent local projects include the remediation of 45 acres in Fullerton. … Japan Airlines is ramping up service at LAX. The company recently announced it is bringing back daily nonstop service between LAX and Osaka’s Kansai International Airport. The airline already offers daily service between LAX and Tokyo.

Staff reporter Carol Lawrence can be reached at clawrence@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

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