THIS year's International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Cargo Symposium will focus on bolstering the air cargo industry's resilience, whilst also retaining the momentum already achieved in digitalisation, reveals Brendan Sullivan, its global head of cargo.
The airfreight industry has suffered many wounding body-blows in the last few years, with grounded fleets, the abrupt removal of capacity, widespread border closures, severe state-generated anti-Covid measures, staff shortages, bankruptcies, strikes, sea and airport congestion, inflated jet fuel prices, followed by Russia's war with Ukraine.
It has been an unprecedentedly bleak picture for air transport, reports London's Air Cargo Eye.
Despite this litany of volatile and challenging operating conditions, the air cargo community nevertheless heroically transported life-preserving Coronavirus vaccines during the crisis, as well as critical Covid testing equipment and other medical supplies worldwide.
In the heat of the fire, air cargo somehow kept international supply chains open and thus became the one bright spot in airline performances. The record-breaking 2021 and 2022 first- and second-quarter financial results illustrate how air cargo became a crucial source of revenue for many airlines, the airline association notes.
Last year, air cargo revenues reached a record US$204 billion, more than double that of 2019 - and, in 2021, for the first time, accounted for some 40 per cent of total airline revenues.
"Air cargo proved its resilience during the pandemic, and [now] it is emerging stronger. The challenge is to retain the momentum achieved in digitalisation and other customer-centric efficiency gains," says Mr Sullivan.
"There is good reason to be optimistic," he feels. "Air cargo is maintaining its strength even as economic and geo-political uncertainty grows. And this year's WCS will focus on how the industry can capitalise on this resilience to build an even more promising and sustainable future for global air cargo."
Mr Sullivan and David Shepherd, managing director of IAG Cargo; as well as Dorothea von Boxberg, chief executive of Lufthansa Cargo; Turhan Ozen, chief cargo officer at Turkish Cargo; and Marie Owens Thomsen, IATA's chief economist; will all be speaking at the 27 to 29 September London ExCel Centre event.
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