Who’s Going to Revolutionize Air Cargo?

Air Cargo is back in the doldrums!
Or, so it seems!
If we are to believe the figures released these last days, then there seems to be a further stagnation in air cargo growth.

The cargo industry ought to revolutionize its business. Although insurrections like the one in Berlin 1848 might be a bit too radical
The cargo industry ought to revolutionize its business. Although insurrections like the one in Berlin 1848 might be a bit too radical

April statistics issued by IATA and supported by others are referred to as a “modest slowdown”.

  • April growth only showed 3.2% compared to 6.2 in March.
  • Air freight volumes moderated 1.1% in April compared to March, even when considering the late Easter holiday impact.
  • Asia Pacific carriers were the only ones showing an increase in FTK’s at 5.2%, but warnings are out that this may not continue because of a continued slowdown in Chinese manufacturing and inter-China trade itself.
  • European and Latin American airlines FTK’s fell by 0.75 and 6.5% respectively.
  • General load factors slipped again and left April with an average of only 46%. That‘s not enough to live on!
  • Strangely enough, signals are that the advanced economies still show further growth and exports continue unabated. This fact leads the experts to predict further growth in air cargo in the coming months.

Where has the air freight gone?
If all of the above is true – “then where is the cargo?”
Overall load factors of 46% are nothing to write home about.
If this is fact, then the industry surely still has an “over capacity problem” on the cargo side which is hopefully being more than compensated by increased passenger demand.
Hence - full pax cabins and half full belly compartments.
On the face of it, cargo could be seen as slipping backwards and becoming less of a vital revenue contributor for many carriers.
A dangerous development!


Things ought to be done in a big way
The figures, which are always important and should be seen as a guideline for expanding the business, are churned out month by month. However, is it the case that they are just “shelved” by most and hopes are high that the following month will be better?
If so, then we seriously need some revolutionizing of the air cargo business.

New ideas, encouragement for young people joining our industry and a serious look at technology, business models and so on, in order to make moving of air cargo more attractive for shippers and agents alike.

IATA follows on the heels of TIACA in introducing programs for innovation.
TIACA came out after its Istanbul meeting with its “Air Cargo Professional Development Program” which is meant have its first session in AMS between 25-27 June.  Air Cargo related companies interested in sending younger members of their teams can join up direct with TIACA.

Now IATA has followed suit with its “Air Cargo Innovations Awards” program.
This program, as is with TIACA’s, is stated by IATA as being aimed at “attracting talented people to embrace logistics careers” and to “secure and grow air cargo.”
TIACA concentrates on training and IATA on innovation.

Start in the right direction
Moves by both organizations which are worthy of support!
The old slogan is that “Innovation is the Driver of Change.”
IATA has added a tidbit to their program by asking ideas to be submitted by the end of November and the chance to win US$20,000 for those ideas being considered best.

Of course!, these programs will not drastically change the picture of air cargo overnight.
But, it is a start in the right direction and a chance for the industry to look seriously at new impetus and ideas as to how we can keep air cargo as an attractive and viable mode of transport for the future.

The motto (although having been used before) could maybe then read:
“Don’t ask the industry what it can do for you - but tell the industry what you can do for it.”

John Mc Donagh

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