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Part of the bigger picture: Air cargo and its role in airport economic recovery

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2022-06-29      Origin: Site

Air cargo is a vital part of the aviation ecosystem that supports trade and economic growth.

From an economic standpoint, according to the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), while air transport carries 0.5% of world trade shipments by volume, it carries over 35% by value - meaning that goods shipped by air are very valuable, often perishable or time-sensitive. Fresh products such as fruits, vegetables, sea food, and flowers are examples. In the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of cut flowers are flown around the world. They mainly came from Africa and Latin America and were destined for North America, Europe, and Asia.

Cargo during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the value of air cargo to airlines, governments, shippers, and consignees has become more apparent. In addition to the increase in freight demand due to changes in the retail environment, as we move into the recovery phase, air cargo is crucial for the pharmaceutical industry, which relies on it to deliver time-sensitive medical supplies, especially vaccines. In response to COVID-19, the airline business model changed overnight with the closure of borders for passenger traffic, but increased cargo operations with airlines also converting their passenger aircraft into all cargo aircraft.
Operation of airports

Airports seeking to increase cargo revenue must understand the potential market, the regulatory environment, and the operational requirements for new or increased cargo operations. Developing a clear cargo strategy will help the airport better understand the current landscape and potential opportunities as well as build a robust business plan for the future. Diversifying revenue streams is also extremely beneficial in the current economic climate.  


Air cargo


Cargo operations can also pose new challenges for airports, especially if larger aircraft are operated or normal operating hours are extended, for example, with the introduction of night flights. In order to mitigate any risks or impacts, these changes in the operating environment need to be considered and analyzed. 

Future innovation post COVID

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, passenger flight schedules were no longer a reliable indicator of cargo capacity. The frequency of operations for a particular route was determined by cargo volumes and not by passenger numbers.  Network visibility was essential.  Digital platforms were quickly deployed, allowing ad-hoc and regular users to understand capacity availability and make bookings.

The effort is to scale these digital practices as flights return to pre-COVID levels and reduce the need for manual inputs so that cargo schedules and capacity availability are accurate and visible to customers. Document exchanges between cargo facilities and digitalized operational decisions and information exchanges will not only improve efficiency, but also enhance safety and security.

It is expected that many aspects of the cargo journey, including customs, will become digital. The widespread acceptance of a single standard will provide a common approach and swiftly adopted paperless solutions.  As we look to the future, we will embed efficient, sustainable, touchless digital solutions into cargo operations.  Likewise, it is imperative to set up a digital infrastructure for customs and facilitation processes with widespread international adoption so that the cargo network functions effectively.


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