Transporting critical vaccines in such large numbers over the past few years highlighted how if the various stakeholders in the air cargo industry worked closely and collaboratively, amazing things could be achieved.
But that concept was not a new one. Airport cargo communities have for years seen freight forwarders, airlines, cargo handlers and other players work together with the aim of increasing efficiency and performance. The difference now is that as the air cargo industry continues to embrace digitalisation – having previously lagged behind somewhat – these stakeholders will be able to improve efficiency and optimise processes even further through everything from better data processing to taking the logistics function to a new, highly integrated level.
“It is important to cooperate intensely as holistic challenges like sustainability, digitalisation and a shortage of skilled labour affect every partner in the logistic chain,” as Felix Toepsch, executive director of Air Cargo Community Frankfurt, puts it. “These issues can only be approached together and synergistically. A special challenge is to harmonise processes and standardise digital platforms.”
Strong community and tight collaboration can be real strengths at an airport, and many have rolled out innovative projects on this basis, as we find out on page 26.
That innovation is needed everywhere in the air cargo industry, according to The International Air Cargo Association’s director general Glyn Hughes. In his regular column (page 11), he looks at how innovation can be applied in areas such as attracting new talent; communication with customers, partners and regulators; the selling and distribution of products; and systems for processing and moving cargo.
Virgin Atlantic Cargo is a great example of a company embracing innovation this year. In an exclusive interview with Airline Cargo Management (page 24), managing director Phil Wardlaw outlines the digital milestones the company is hoping to reach in 2023, including going live with a new cargo management system; relaunching its product portfolio based on customer feedback; and embracing third-party marketplaces.
As Wardlaw explains, the company has aggressive targets and a clear vision. “We need to expand our reach as a business and make sure we have offerings that enable us to reach our customers in a simplified way and through multiple channels,” he says.
The themes of collaboration and innovation run right through this issue. I hope you enjoy reading it.