The irresistible rise of digitalisation was already changing society in countless ways before the Covid-19 crisis came along and accelerated many of them.
I’m sure we can all think of examples of how digital products and processes have changed our lives, from the obvious to the more subtle.
In the air cargo industry, it is perhaps e-commerce that has had the most impact. The dynamics of both the narrowbody freighter conversions and the cargo aircraft leasing markets have changed as a result of this, and we explore this shift in detail in a pair of articles in this issue.
These are unprecedented times in the narrowbody freighter market. “We’ve never seen demand like this across all freighter products and we’re likely never to see it again,” says Aeronautical Engineers’ Robert Convey. More goods need to be transported than ever before, and more aircraft are needed to make that happen. And that has seen the launch of new passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion programmes. Can they all be successful?
The cargo aircraft leasing market remains strong, too, and its growth is also being driven by e-commerce. Aircraft dry leases and wet leases are both common in the freighter leasing market, and the different markets for each type of lease are each dominated by a relatively small group of companies.
We explore this market, its composition, and the companies involved, as they prepare to meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities of what will be an interesting few years ahead. Ultimately, the more online retail grows, the greater the freighter capacity will be that is required to transport the goods.
Another of our main features in this issue looks at the specialised transport of pharmaceuticals and other healthcare products by air – a sector which moved into the spotlight during the Covid-19 crisis. Pharma and healthcare transport was, of course, present before the pandemic and will continue as the sector moves forward. There will be few aircraft taking off with cargo strapped into passenger seats, but some carriers have decided to convert a part of their fleet into full-time cargo aircraft and maintain a greater presence in this market. Those that focus on pharma and healthcare transport will also see much promise in the future.
These features appear alongside our array of regular columns, which include a look at how Swissport is pioneering e-mobility in ‘Green Sky’; the latest innovations in ‘Trend Watch’; and a Q&A with Air Partner in ‘In Conversation With’.
I hope you enjoy reading the issue.