Managing crew when cargo flights are disrupted can be a complex procedure, but digital solutions offer a way forward says Get-e’s CEO Alexander van Deudekom (pictured below)

    This piece first appeared in the Summer issue of Airline Cargo Management, you can read the full magazine here. 

    The events of the past year and the central role played by the cargo airline sector is evidence that cargo carriers are primed to provide stability and resilience to the airline industry, as uncertainty over passenger numbers continues. 

    From the moment Covid-19 hit, airlines have provided support by transporting personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment and other humanitarian aid within their cargo capacity. In recent months, this has shifted towards enabling the manufacture and distribution of vaccines worldwide.

    In addition to the changes in cargo type, airlines have had to operate new or alternative routes to deliver PPE and medical equipment to those who need it. Demand has been high too: data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for February 2021 shows air cargo demand continued to outperform pre-Covid levels with demand up 9 per cent compared to February 2019. Volumes have now returned to the level seen prior to the US-China trade war in 2018. 

    Dealing with disruption

    Some 80 per cent of cross-border e-commerce is already transported by air, but disruptions to flights and changes to schedules mean that without intelligent tools, airlines can waste money and resources rescheduling transportation and accommodation for their air crews. 

    If a flight needs to be delayed or diverted due to border closures or changing restrictions, there are a number of additional, and sometimes hidden, tasks that are also implicated such as the pre-arranged transfers for the crew to get to or from the airport. 

    Traditionally, a crew manager would need to make a series of telephone calls to reschedule taxis and hotel rooms for crew following diversions and delays. This can lead to disparity of charges, unnecessary fees and long waits for those on the ground. 

    With Get-e’s global ground transportation management system, this administrative burden is streamlined, making it more flexible and cost effective, as invoices can be managed centrally and changes made with as little as one hour’s notice with no fees.

    The new digital world

    It is likely that cargo operators will continue to feel the effects of disruption and late changes to schedules for many months to come as the world deals with the ongoing effects of Covid-19 – which has increased demand for cargo but decreased aircraft availability – and other global changes such as Brexit. With retail e-commerce sales projected to grow to $5.4 trillion by 2022, there will continue to be increased demand for cargo shipments long after the pandemic has passed.

    As such, the role that digitisation is playing is becoming more and more apparent for the aviation industry – it is no longer a nice to have, it is a prerequisite.