At the 10th World Cargo Symposium by IATA, more than 1000 air cargo managers discussed and debated the current status of the global air cargo industry in the context of an increasingly challenging business environment.
The 10th World Cargo Symposium (WCS) by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) at the German capital city of Berlin attracted more visitors than any of its previous editions and had much more panel discussions and accompanying events to keep the theme of “the value of air cargo” alive.
Nearly 50 exhibitors from around the world took advantage of the opportunity to network. There and at other networking occasions participants certainly got the impression that the air cargo industry is in a more optimistic mood again these days, despite all headwinds it is currently facing.
Lithium batteries on board, the safety of air cargo in general, best practices in pharmaceutical transportation, perishables by air, disruptive mindset to improve supply chain, drones for tomorrow’s air cargo are among the many topics presented and discussed this year.
Presenting the state of the industry report, Tony Tyler, director general and CEO, IATA, said the value of air cargo is so great because it is an industry built on the efforts of different organisations, sometimes with different aims and needs, but always focused on delivering for the customer. “If the industry is going to thrive in the coming decades, it will only be because the different participants in the air cargo chain have pulled together behind a common vision. This industry faces momentous change in the coming years,” added Tyler, who retires in June this year.
In the keynote address, Fang Liu, Secretary General, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), spoke about the need for modernisation and expansion of infrastructure and “seamless airport facilities,” in order to accommodate the expected growth in aviation. “Governments have remained the primary sources for related funding, but privatisation and public-private partnerships can also be useful options to consider,” she added. “In this regard, I would like to urge states to include aviation in their national development plans as a strategic priority.”
In the “Perishables: Flying is Fresh!” session some of the world’s top experts got together to provide a snapshot of the current market, debunk some myths about modal shift and to offer advice about how all supply chain stakeholders can cooperate to maximize value and agree on performance standards. Speaking in the panel, Natasha Solano, global business development manager, perishables logistics for Kuehne + Nagel, dwelt upon the modal shift, which according to her is “blown out of proportion” by the media.
“The shift between air, ocean, road and rail modes is not something new and has shifted many times over the years. But it affects only certain commodities on certain lanes,” she said. Some commodities, she said, will always move by air, such as certain kinds of fresh fish, flowers and berries at varying times of year. In general, demand for perishable airfreight will rise along with the rise of the middle class worldwide, which demands more fresh food. “By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on earth and demand for fresh food will be 60 percent more than it is today. This is good news for both ocean and airfreight,” Solano said.
While making the concluding remarks Glyn Hughes, IATA’s global head of Cargo, said that the air cargo industry has been on a rollercoaster ride over the past decade. Making references to e-commerce, particularly Alibaba and Amazon, Hughes noted that new technologies and changing business models have a certain disruptive potential. The global economy is also undergoing major change, while growth markets are maturing and the global supply chain is developing.
The 11th WCS is due to be held in Abu Dhabi from March 14 to 17 in 2017.