The cargo sector of the aviation industry has experienced stronger growth than any other over the past 12 months. So much so, that at the GHI Conference last year, cargo was hailed as the â€˜star of the showâ€™ after growth during the pandemic. It was said that this sector, fuelled by the rise in eCommerce demand, has been â€˜the savior of aviationâ€™ since the impact of Covid restrictions started to be felt by the rest of the industry.
With this surge in activity showing no signs of slowing, the general consensus is that this industry sector has a unique opportunity to not only embrace it but to streamline processes and procedures to maximize it. We take a look at recent and predicted growth across the cargo sector, the driving forces, and how it can use technology to future proof operations and stay ahead.
Demand remained strong through 2021
Cargo demand remained strong all through last year and, according to IATA, economic conditions indicate that it is set to continue. While reports show that demand is still below 2019 pre-pandemic levels, figures for the third quarter of 2021 showed clear month-on-month growth of 8-9%.
One of the most significant driving factors has been the shift in demand for eCommerce. This has been highlighted by industry experts and two strong and interesting predictions have emerged:
- eCommerce is expected to represent 20% of global air cargo in 2022
- Amazon Air will swell itsâ€™ fleet to 200 aircraft over the next five years (from 80 in 2021)
This surely means that now is the time, when integrators are investing, for air cargo to streamline and improve efficiency in both costs and operations if they are to keep up.
Harnessing the opportunities
With continued growth predictions, it is a positive time for the sector overall. Optimism is high and opportunities are on the horizon. But as we draw nearer to pre-pandemic levels in the coming months, we may be reminded of some of the historic challenges. Overcoming traditional bottlenecks on top of health and safety restrictions and additional compliance requirements, for example, will inevitably result in capacity issues if demand returns as expected.
To fully harness the opportunities, the sector can start now with the chance to streamline processes, standardize procedures and create a scalable, future-proof system. According to the experts, there is â€˜no better time than nowâ€™ during this period of lower levels, to address the key themes that have previously restricted the industry.
What can air cargo sector do to stay ahead?
Through our own experiences as industry professionals, we all understand that there are ways we can simplify and streamline processes through technology. In terms of assets, we know that over the next ten years there are plans to simplify and standardize procedures while streamlining the types of assets needed. We need to look at operational processes in the same way â€“ and fast.
According to many industry professionals, there are several areas to address and improve, including:
- Cumbersome processes
- Operational and fixed costs
- Mandatory compliance
- Staff training programs
It should also be highlighted that the industry needs to look to the longer term and consider existing and potential industry-shaping technologies. These types of automated systems are already helping to create flexibility in the ground handling sector, remaining scalable and adaptable to both real-time and potential changes. We have learned during the last two years the importance of scalability and understand that anything can happen.
Todayâ€™s best aviation technologies help to streamline and increase efficiency through the automation of key processes. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to:
- Weight and Balance System
- Handling Data Base
- Secure Message Distribution System
- Contract Management & Billing Systems
When these core processes are streamlined and fully integrated, mandatory compliance boxes are often also ticked automatically, further simplifying operations for cargo teams, ground handling, and authorities.
Can we help?
A-ICE has a strong relationship with the air transport community and delivers solutions through research and development to both address current and anticipate the future requirements of the industry. We understand the importance of scalability and offer a unique approach to consultation, implementation, and cost. Talk to us.