From Big Ben in SEP22 to Bosporus in APR23: IATA’s World Cargo Symposium is just around the corner. From 25-27APR23, the world’s air cargo industry leaders will descend upon the Hilton
Istanbul Bomonti Hotel & Conference Center in Türkiye, for another packed conference agenda focused on Digitalization, Sustainability, and Safety. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) asked Brendan
Sullivan, IATA’s Global Head Cargo, what attendees can expect.
CFG: This WCS follows hot on the heels of the last one in London at the end of SEP22, and is just two weeks prior to Messe München's air cargo Europe in MAY23. What are the pros and cons
of having two major cargo events in such quick succession?
BS: WCS has traditionally been held around March / April time. It was moved due to COVID constraints. Since then, we have been gradually migrating the event back to the first quarter of the year. Both events have slightly different audiences. WCS is a global event, with a focus on knowledge sharing and industry standards and best practices.
CFG: Will the gap between the two events (WCS and acE) widen again in 2024? Are the dates and is the location already set for WCS 2024? What are they?
BS: We can’t comment on dates for other conferences. In 2024, WCS will be held in the first quarter of the year. We are currently in the process of evaluating destinations and dates for the event and hope to be able to share more details at the WCS in Istanbul.
CFG: “Age of Change: Moving Air Cargo Forward” is the event motto. What has happened IATA-wise in the areas of Digitalization, Sustainability, and Safety since September 2022? What can attendees expect to hear?
BS: Air cargo has been operating at nearly pre-pandemic levels. But the way it operates has changed dramatically. This is due to a convergence of economic and geo-political forces, continuing priorities on improving sustainability, safety, and reliability, as well as emerging opportunities with new markets, technologies, and digitalization. This year’s WCS will explore how to keep air cargo profitable while addressing these priorities, challenges, and opportunities.
During the event, session tracks will cover several key aspects of safety, sustainability, and digitalization:
- Lithium batteries
- ULD and operations
- ESG reporting in air cargo
- Reducing plastic waste in the air cargo industry
- Attracting and retaining talent
- Air cargo market dynamics
- Digital distribution and booking
- Digital Cargo and ONE Record
There have been significant developments in many of these areas.
CFG: SEP22 WCS saw record attendance numbers. What are the registration numbers like for Istanbul? And did the recent earthquakes (or increasing inflation) negatively affect figures?
BS: The numbers are very strong for WCS. We have not seen the recent earthquakes negatively affect figures.
CFG: Any particular feedback from the WCS SEP22 that has been incorporated in this upcoming WCS? If so, what?
BS: At the end of every WCS, we send a survey to delegates. Their feedback is incorporated into the following event. The survey helps shape the agenda and decide on spotlight sessions.
CFG: Will any parts of the event be live-streamed?
CFG: Will this WCS 2023 in Istanbul differ from the one that was originally planned for Istanbul in 2020? In what way?
BS: This year’s WCS will use the new agenda format. We will also be holding a special session on the vital role of air cargo in humanitarian efforts. This session will have a particular focus on recent efforts to deliver aid to the people of Türkiye and Syria affected by the devastating earthquakes in the region.
There will also be several workshops. These include one on the benefits of competency-based training how it helps to improve workplace safety and performance. We will be hosting an interactive E-Commerce Think Tank to identify how more transparency in e-Commerce would benefit stakeholders, and we will be holding the Future Air Cargo Executives Summit (FACES) for the next generation of cargo professionals.
CFG: Is any particular sustainability / digitalization emphasis being put into the organization of the event? If so, what, for example?
BS: We are committed to driving sustainability across IATA by minimizing our impact on the environment where we can. For all our conferences, we look for ways to reduce our environmental footprint, from offsetting our carbon footprint to reducing use of paper, plastic, and waste.
For example, we offset all our staff air travel. To compensate for our footprint, we have invested in two high-quality carbon reduction projects: a smart agriculture and sustainable land use project in Malawi, and a hydroelectric project in the Uttarakhand province in India.
CFG: Perhaps a fun question to end with: Does ChatGPT have a future in the air cargo industry? If it were an employee, what would be its main responsibility?
BS: We thought who best to pose this question to than ChatGPT itself? It had a message specifically for CEOs:
“Dear CEO, as you know, the air cargo industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and customers are demanding faster, more efficient, and cost-effective services. As an AI consultant, I can offer you several ways in which AI technology could help your airline stay ahead of the competition. With AI-powered customer service, your airline can provide 24/7 support to customers, while also reducing costs associated with human agents. By using AI to analyze data from various sources, you can optimize your cargo operations, reduce delays, and improve on-time performance. Finally, by automating administrative tasks, you can reduce errors, save time, and free up your staff to focus on more complex tasks. Overall, AI technology offers numerous opportunities for airlines to improve their efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the customer experience. Let’s work together to take advantage of these opportunities and stay ahead of the competition.”
At IATA, we believe AI has a role to play in the future of air cargo. As such, we have a number of sessions on how AI can contribute positively to the industry.
ChatGPT is growing on me. Many thanks for your answers, Brendan, and I very much look forward to seeing you and participating in the WCS in Istanbul in three weeks from now!
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