1. Air cargo has proved to be a game-changer during the pandemic. Will this attention stay or fade?
As quickly as cargo became the hero for the airline industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has already lost its appeal and heading back to pre-pandemic status.
In a recent GHI presentation, “Precious Cargo”, where I had the opportunity to address the audience, we agreed that air cargo is the hero of 2020 & 2021 and seems now to be “precious memories”.
Air cargo will continue to grow, but I don’t know if it will continue to be considered a “superhero” for the airline and supply chain industry, even though we are witnessing many ocean carriers getting into the airline business. With the continued stagnating conditions in the supply chain, air cargo will remain a leading supply chain link, and I don’t think this will fade anytime soon. After a country or Port comes off of lockdown, cargo needs to move in the quickest way possible to catch up with the demand for essential merchandise and materials. Air cargo will come to the rescue. Although moving cargo by air is much more expensive than the ocean, sometimes the cost of not having the needed material is far out ways the cost of losing the sale or inability to manufacture a product.
2. How are technology and cost reduction related?
Technology allows for the advanced sharing of shipment information, which in turn allows all stakeholders to better prepare for the next status. Having the ability to prepare in advance gives the ability to reduce cost, as complex decision-making can be carried out to avoid additional costs, which is required for unexpected shipment processing. We can reduce labour costs using technology, allowing entities to better position their staff to offer exceptional and well-planned customer service. Using technology like the Kale ACS not only reduces cost, it helps the environment too. We did a study in 2021 where we positively identified how our cutting-edge technology reduced labour costs, increased transfer efficiencies, and reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Using our PING technology can help save thousands of trees by replacing the paper AWB with electronic data. This technology also reduces airline and handler cost because a counter-staff agent doesn’t enter the AWB data manually for the manifest.
With technology, PING converts the PDF of the AWB into the proper XML format and reduces the time it takes the agent to check in the driver and reduces the amount of time the driver will have to spend at the terminal, dropping off air cargo.
3. There is a growing trend of freight services expanding. How do you see this altering the air cargo industry?
The air cargo industry is truly at an evolutionary stage with the development of UMA (drones) and air cargo ships. Several companies are already testing final-mile drone deliveries with great success. The biggest hold-up for more use of these UMAs is regulatory requirements.
Companies like Natilus and Boeing have manufactured all-cargo aircraft that move in a fraction of the time we currently know that these aircraft can carry 50-60% more cargo than the current all-cargo aircraft, thus increasing capacity for the growing air freight industry, which includes e-commerce business. There have been over ten new airlines opened in the past two years, including some in the US–Breeze, Avelo, and Aha! As mentioned above, ocean carriers such as CMA CGM are getting into the air cargo business. As freight services in other modes expand, so will air cargo services. Air cargo is growing to a point where some states and cities are opening cargo-only Airports. Many of these Ports are looking at investing in technology, or digital infrastructure, upfront, to assist them in maximising their sometimes very limited physical infrastructure.