Another prime offering is the e-Marketplace, an online poal for booking door-to-door cargo transpoation services, offering competitive pricing and total transparency of the best shipment
options across all modes of transpo. The plaorm connects supply chain stakeholders; such as freight forwarders, Customs brokers, shipping lines, airlines, transpoers, consignees, warehouse operators, rail operators and regulatory authorities, enabling them to adopt modern logistics practices that will allow beer response to customer demand, increased efficiency and a more competitive industry landscape in air cargo space.
Digital transformation is heralding the next era in logistics and supply chain management and in the forefront is Kale Logistics Solutions, a global IT solutions paner for several Foune 500 companies worldwide. With in-depth domain knowledge and technical expeise, Kale Logistics is working on creating the world’s largest digital logistics cloud for the international supply chain by creating a global network of airpos and pos connected digitally through its Digital Corridors. Explaining in detail to Air Cargo Update the digital expanse of Kale Logistics Solutions is Amar
More, CEO and Co-Founder More holds the distinction of being the first and only Indian to receive the “CILT International Young Achiever Award – 2009 for his invaluable contributions to deliver tech solution to the logistics industry.
Digital transformation is a given thing now. Is the air cargo sector receptive to it, considering the high costs of going totally digital, more so, when the logistics industry is going through a margin squeeze?
Yes, Digital Transformation (DT) is the right thing to happen to the industry even though, a bit late, but not too late. The air cargo industry is receptive and understands the value DT will bring to their businesses. The mindset toward DT is not cost-centric but investment-centric, where the industry will reap benefits in the coming years and become sustainable.
The buzzwords in today’s board meetings are disruptive technologies – AI, ML, IoT, Blockchain, Cloud, Mobility, and AR are taking the center stage. The usage of these technologies has surpassed discussion and conceptualization to actual applications in business scenarios. For example, we have AI-based truck management systems at airports, Blockchain-based digital corridors, Machine Learning-enabled document to EDI conversion and many more.
Can you give some cost-benefit analysis for a freight forwarder such that the freight forwarding community understands the importance of digitization?
Every actor in the supply chain is touched by digitization in today’s world. In the past three years, the freight forwarding community has taken a quantum leap in tech adoption. The pandemic drove the need to go digital. Today, freight forwarders are facing two paths: digitize their processes and catch up with the industry, or become
obsolete and face very high costs. When it comes to addressing forwarders for digitization, we are dealing with a very
heterogeneous group with different levels of automation needs, customer expectations and scale of operations. Digitization benefits are both tangible and intangible for them. Tangible benefits including savings on charges like storage, demurrage, detention and abandoned cargo are very much possible. Document exchange can be executed within a few minutes as opposed to a few days previously. The other benefits, which cannot be immediately quantified are better customer service, fully automated sales, end-to-end tracking, document management, complete cargo visibility and prevention of revenue leakage with automated accounting and invoicing.
What segments of air cargo sector still continue with legacy systems that you think they can easily migrate to digital?
Any process which still needs paper or manual operations can be migrated to digital easily. In order to make digitization a success, every aspect and process should be touched by it. It should start with core operations and then move to other peripheral processes. We have generally observed that the SMEs in the air cargo supply chain are fragmented and are laggards in tech adoption. But with cargo community systems such as Kale’s Air Cargo Community System (ACS) and Logistics e-Marketplace, this gap is bridged. These unified platforms make technology, data, and best practices available and affordable to all supply chain stakeholders, including the SMEs. For example, in Mumbai International Airport and Bengaluru International Airport we have our CCS, which has 98% adoption, enabling the entire air cargo value chain to work as a synchronized operation.
One of the concerns of digital is the security of data, how does Kale address this?
With changing IT environments, cloudbased solutions offer agile and robust ondemand infrastructure with benefits such as stability, cost efficiency, and more. We must not forget concerns related to cyber security. More attempts have been made to steal passenger data (personal data, credit cards etc.) than cargo. Having said that, a shipment can often involve data or intellectual property transfer between up to ten separate parties across the globe, hence there is enough motivation for hackers to look at cargo data as well.
However, if there is an additional layer of a CCS, which typically has seven layers of security, and additional security layers provided by leading cloud providers like Microsoft and Amazon, the cyber security risks to the larger stakeholder systems go down significantl y. Icall it the democratization of cyber security. Cargo Community System (CCS) can democratize cyber security and help provide better security infrastructure to the smaller players and, by being a buffer layer with bolstered world-class security infrastructure, reduce the risks for the systems of larger players, too.
Digital being very dynamic, it calls for constant innovation. Can you name one game-changing innovation of Kale in the logistics industry? Also give the gamechanging attributes.
A cargo community system comes with some limitations as it has geographical boundaries, and to overcome the same and achieve larger synergies globally, one has to think beyond cargo community systems.
This brings us to the future of cargo community systems i.e., the digital trade corridor. The Digital Air Freight Corridor aims at creating a completely transparent supply chain through the exchange of real-time status of shipments between two airports and exchange of shipment data to eliminate duplicate processes. For example, shipment arrival information can be shared beforehand with the rightful stakeholders in the destination airport so that the Customs, handlers, and other stakeholders are well informed and prepared to handle the incoming freight on time. We have successfully established the first Digital Air Freight Corridor between India and Netherlands, powered by Blockchain.
Another prime offering is the e-Marketplace, an online portal for booking door-todoor cargo transportation services, offering competitive pricing and total transparency of the best shipment options across all modes of transport. The platform connects supply chain stakeholders; such as freight forwarders, Customs brokers, shipping lines, airlines, transporters, consignees, warehouse operators, rail operators and regulatory authorities, enabling them to adopt modern logistics practices that will allow better response to customer demand, increased efficiency and a more
competitive industry landscape in air cargo space.
The platform can connect with third-party systems, cargo community systems and systems of the airport authority and terminal operators to provide status updates. Along with digital, there is talk about sustainability. Please explain with specific examples how you factor in sustainability in customer operations. Sustainability is now a mega trend, as per the World Economic Outlook Jan 22. It’s no longer just important but a necessity. There is a perception by some airlines, airports and ground handlers that aviation’s reputation comes from the passenger business so there is no need to invest in sustainable cargo solutions as these are not visible. We must collectively change this situation.
We at the airfreight industry have a collective responsibility to our customers, employees and future generations to develop solutions creating a positive impact on people and the planet in ways that enhance business success, which in turn will lead to enhanced global prosperity.
Our CCS is developed as per United Nations recommendation 33, which sets the framework for sustainable trade facilitation through paperless operations. Kale’s Cargo Community System, used for airport and maritime community systems, enables electronic communications between multiple supply chain stakeholders. We want to add momentum to the global sustainability drive and be a key influencer for airports, ports, and supply chains globally to go paperless, improve digital connectivity, and reduce carbon emissions.
A study by Kale Info Solutions on the impact of digitization at Atlanta Airpo, Georgia, USA, has demonstrated CO2 and fuel savings, as well as reduced labor costs and close to 2,000 man-hours saved. The study showed that by using digital tools, the Atlanta Airpo Community, powered by Kale’s digital solutions, had saved nine tons of CO2 from being processed since the beginning of 2021: the equivalent of planting more than 1,500 trees. The study looked at 1,839 shipments, 389 trucks, and 680 tons of cargo going through Atlanta Airpo for the first seven months of 2021.
In total, more than 5,650 liters of fuel, USD 69,000 of labor costs, and 1,945 man-hours were saved by using Kale’s Slot Management tool to organize and facilitate the arrival and loading of trucks at the airport.
After two bad years due to Covid-19, how is the logistics industry looking and how can companies like Kale help them recover faster?
The last two years have been exceptional for air cargo as the pandemic induced just not uncertainty, staff shortages, and health risks but also made way for an eCommerce boom with congestion and high dwell times. These times have shown loud and clear that the logistics industry needs to stand unified to fight this battle.
As per WHO, the COVID-19 virus stays on paper for 72 hours, so contactless and paperless operations were the requirement of the industry. CCSpromoted this with Single Window Systems, powered by autonomous data exchange, online payments, eapprovals, digital signatures, barcoded gate-pass, digital customs, and e-delivery orders. The stakeholders enjoyed benefits, such as improved customer satisfaction with beer shipment visibility, improved data accuracy by 90%, security and reduced cost.
One of the most relevant offerings from our CCS is Truck Slot Management; here all truck arrivals and departures are managed as per slots to avoid gate congestion. Truckers experience much lower wait times at the terminal gates, & all documentation is predone before the truck reaches the terminal. The handler is equipped with advanced shipment information to plan the resources, equipment, and warehouse. The airlines receive an IATA-compliant e-AWB. So, all the actors are well synchronized, which ensures the cargo flow is seamless and quick, along with significant cost savings.
We hear some airports in Europe, including Heathrow, are stretched to deal with both passenger and cargo operations, how do you think technology/digital can help in addressing this resource crunch?
Business continuity was a big challenge during the pandemic times, with legacy systems and manual operations, the air cargo operations were poorly affected. Remote working was a novelty and the airports were not geared up to handle staff shortages. Because of the uncertainty of the times and the likely realities of the “new normal,” more and more airports are now charting the course for their journeys toward cloud computing and digital transformation.
Cloud-based applications enabled workfrom-home. Cargo operations continued uninterrupted with robust cloud-enabled platforms which enhanced productivity and collaboration. There was no need for heavy investments on infrastructure or highly trained staff to work on CCS.
Another point of contention was the COVID-19 virus staying on paper for 72 hours as per WHO and the paper-intensive air cargo industry had to move to paperless operations. This was an opportunity in adversity for the industry to adopt automation and digitization for information exchange, thereby making the entire supply chain efficient and agile.
Could you give details of your global operations – in how many countries you are present, the size of your client base, and the markets you are focusing on?
We have more than 5,000 customers globally in 30+ countries. We have been successfully engaging with 100+ air cargo stations across the world. We are focusing on North America as this is a big market for air cargo, and the geography is very receptive to digitization. We are engaging with Atlanta, Vancouver, Boston and many more airports are talking to us at this point in the region.
What are the challenges for a digital company such as yours when it comes to the logistics sector?
Unlike other industries, the logistics industry has varying degrees of IT maturity amongst its stakeholders. Large players have sophisticated IT solutions to manage their end-to-end operations, but the SMEs would still be on Excel-based data or worse maintain physical files. Though they are disparate in operations, what links them is the common data and cargo they handle at various times during the shipment journey. With different contours of IT systems, what suffers is the movement of cargo across the supply chain. There is data discrepancy, time-consuming operations, and a lack of trade visibility and transparency. Therefore, making the entire supply chain inefficient
Making the logistics fraternity aware of the benefits of digitization is the most critical part. In several regions, they are still reluctant for various reasons. In the Middle East especially, stakeholders believe that digitization will bring extra costs, and they need to set up a separate infrastructure for the same. However, not many understand that the tech solutions do not require a separate infrastructure cost.
What is Kale’s roadmap, say for the next 5 years?
We strive hard not only to stay relevant but try to create a digital future for the industry. We are working on expanding the reach and depth of our community platform by providing value-added features to the community like complete enterprise applications for Customs brokering as well as freight forwarding rolled out through our CCS platforms.
We are also working on creating the world’s largest digital logistics cloud for the international supply chain by creating a global network of airports and ports connected digitally through our Digital Corridors. We believe that the future is multimodal, so we are working on creating Sea-Air corridors to facilitate intermodal cargo movement. Our large communities will get integrated with our Logistics eMarketplaces, which are under development.
We continue to expand our operations across the globe. We are also working on implementing the deep tech use cases of IoT, Blockchain, AI, and ML in our community platforms.
The findings of a new paper, ‘Aircraft Emissions, Their Plume-Scale Effects, and the Spatio-Temporal Sensitivity of the Atmospheric Response: A Review’, could provide impetus for the aviation industry to drastically reduce its climate impact with only minimal changes to aircraft equipment and infrastructure.
The University of Bristol paper, published in the journal Aerospace, suggests modification to air traffic control procedures and aircraft operations could reduce the climate impact of aviation by as much as 20 percent in the next five to 10 years.
“Aircraft non-CO2 emissions are responsible for over two-thirds of aviation’s net climate impact, yet
due to the focus on decarburization in policymaking – which is essential to meet net zero targets – mitigation of these emissions is often overlooked,” Lead author Kieran Tait, who completed the review of the latest aviation emissions science, said.
“Flight route modifications in the form of climate optimal routing, to avoid climate-sensitive regions, and formation flight, in which two aircrafts fly one behind the other (separated by ~2km) could hold the key to drastically reducing aviation’s climate impact,” Tait added
There are two main contributors to aviation’s non-CO2 climate impact – aircraft condensation trails (contrails) and emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx). The warming effect of non-CO2 emissions strongly depends on the chemical and meteorological state of the atmosphere at the instant they are released.
Contrails account for 51 percent of aviation’s total climate impact. Where the air is very cold and humid, the water vapor in the contrails condenses around particulates to form ice crystals which trap heat and have a net-warming effect. Similarly, emissions of NOx react with chemicals in the atmosphere to generate ozone and reduce methane. However, the generation of ozone tends to outweigh the methane reduction, leading to a net warming effect.
“While climate optimal routing may require a longer flight, and therefore an additional one to two percent fuel burn, avoiding climate-sensitive areas could actually reduce the overall climate impact of a flight by around 20 percent.”
“In formation flight, the follower aircraft flies in the wake of the leader aircraft, receiving an upwash which reduces the required lift and results in a five to eight per cent decrease in fuel burn. It also has the additional benefit of overlapping of aircraft exhaust plumes, and the accumulation of emissions contained within them.”
“The next step is to analyze global air traffic data to identify high-density airspace hotspots (such as along flight corridors), where implementation of the formation flight concept would be most appropriate,” Tait said.
This paper gathers the latest evidence of the aviation industry’s climate impact and concluded, “this is how we can make a real and significant difference, right now.”
“The aviation industry has a lot to gain from taking these findings on board and making the small but crucial changes to air traffic control and aircraft operations that will have such a significant impact,” Dr Steve Bullock, Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering, who supervised Mr Tait’s research, said.
Adrien Thominet, Executive Chairman
Robert Van De Weg, Chief Commercial Officer
Representing 156 companies and airlines, ECS Group transported 1,227,122 tons of cargo in 2021. It remains optimistic the positive volume trend will continue though yields are under pressure on some trade lanes like in the North Atlantic and amid the lingering Russia-led war against Ukraine.
By Gemma Q. Casas
ECS Group is known the world over as the largest integrated GSSA, and in recent years, it made its impact even greater with the introduction of its “All-In Solutions” in the air cargo industry that utilizes the power of digitalization and smart technologies.
In 2021, ECS transported an impressive 1.23 million tons of cargo across continents, representing 156 companies and airlines. And despite the numerous challenges confronting the industry, it remains confident the positive trend will prevail.
ECS Group Executive Chairman Adrien Thominet attributed the company’s success to its brave transition from doing the traditional role that General Sales & Service Agents (GSSA) are known for to leading the industry’s future.
“First of all, ECS Group follows its “Augmented GSA” strategy, which offers the industry a completely new GSA model. It is based on 4 pillars: commercial, abilities, technology and sustainability. The aim is simple, to fit our customers’ needs and optimize their revenues,” Thominet told Air Cargo Update in an email interview.
ECS Group’s All-In solutions covers the full scope of cargo processes—from sales to marketing, revenue optimizations to operations (network operations as well as Quality, Safety & Security), Interline Management, Handling of Claims, all the way through to chartering operations.
Robert Van De Weg, ECS Group Chief Commercial Officer, proudly shared the company transported 1,227,122 tons of cargo in 2021 representing 156 companies and airlines.
10 New Abilities
Foraying in the new normal, ECS has combined its sales expertise with a host of digital solutions to help their customers and industry partners navigate in the new normal of the tech age.
Primarily, it offers 10 New Abilities focused on providing solutions to complex issues related to shipping goods via air cargo.
Thominet explained ECS Group’s 10 New Abilities as “single modules that we have created beyond all standard GSA services, offering a variety of support options – a new set of ‘à-la-carte’ products. These are unique products that we have developed in-house to meet the new demands of our customers and the new realities of the market. At the same time, ECS Group places agility at the centre of its actions.”
“With our abilities, we offer a range of solutions to enable our partners to maximize their revenue while safely transporting various goods. With our All-In solution, we are covering the full scope of cargo processes: from Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization, Operations (Network Operations as well as Quality, Safety & Security), Interline Management, Handling of Claims, all the way through to chartering operations,” he said.
“We also have “Optimum” which is our Revenue Optimization Experts that offers tailor made processes covering the scope of budgeting & forecasting, strategic & tactical pricing, commercial steering and interline management. “Optimum” also delivers the necessary Performance Management processes, taking the Revenue Optimization to the next level. Also, for customers that use our TCE services we ensure best possible handling service and compliance to the highest standards. These are just a few examples to give an overview of our abilities and the strategic role they can play for airlines,” he added.
Van De Weg described ECS Group’s “All-In Solutions” as simply an improvement on their established Total, saying, “The “All-In” is an improvement on ECS Group’s established Total Cargo Management Solution, covering the full scope of cargo processes from sales, marketing, revenue optimization, operations, interline management, claims handling, all the way through to chartering operations. Yet, that is just one of the 10 New Abilities. Single services, such as “Quality Stars” offering back-office data administration, or “Optimum” assisting airlines in maximizing their cargo revenues, are also available alongside modules that have never before been offered by a GSA.”
Shaping the future
The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated our transition to digitalization and the use of technology in all facets of our lives. This is particularly evident in the development of Pfizer-BioNtech COVID vaccine in less than a year. A miracle of sort, combining science, technology and hope, this vaccine was produced without any live virus but rather a chemically produced modified genetic code developed through a process known as the messenger RNA vaccine.
Technology also changed our lives with the adoption of more remote work, online education, increasing demand for buying things or services online via e-commerce, among many other things.
Governments have also widened the adoption of technology in their systems to reach out, monitor and control people and disseminate information while the world attempts to control the further spread of the Coronavirus that had since mutated in many different forms.
For businesses and different industries, technology and digitalization offer unprecedented potentials in widening their markets globally while enhancing their operations.
And for the air cargo industry, which is carrying out the so-called the mission of the century, distributing billions of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, digitalization is a game-changer.
“Digitalization is a strategic lever that is increasingly becoming essential—reinforced by the pandemic. If the process of digitalization was already underway, we cannot deny that it is now an inevitable, even mandatory, turn. However, we don’t just want to embrace the change and follow the movement,” said Thominet.
“The pandemic was a real accelerator. Technology and data are very important and we need to push further the digitalization of the supply chain to streamline operations and increase productivity through efficiency gains and streamlined communication. ECS Group started its “e-focus” a while back: “e-distribution”, “e-booking” “e-procurement” and we are now seeing real growth in this type of product. We believe that more technology will increase transparency and this is a key factor: more transparency, visibility and enlarge sales channels also leads to more trust, which is a capital value. Technology also saves time and allows companies to reallocate their human capacity to other tasks that cannot be digitized,” noted.
Already a global leader on innovation, ECS Group continues to explore new ways to make things better in the industry while creating opportunities.
“ECS Group wants to become a leader in this area, to be at the avant-garde and offer new tools that can lead the transformation of our industry. We have our own incubator with the Cargo Digital Factory which already offers various tools such as Quantum which supports the ad-hoc pricing process, Apollo, a BI & reporting system with real-time full visibility on the results, combining market and performance information and Pathfinder our in-house shipment tracking system,” said Thominet.
“It is part of the technology pillar of our Augmented GSA concept. Moreover, we have recently given proof of this ambition since the Cargo Digital Factory is with Wiremind Cargo and CargoAi part of CargoTech; an independent entity which acts as an accelerator of tech companies and talents to transform and digitize the cargo industry.”
Transforming with time
The ECS Group Executive Chairman said the company will continue to evolve with time through innovative ideas and pursuit of creative solutions to better serve its customers and business partners.
“We are living in the new ‘normal’ and the challenge now is how to adapt to it. The basic observation is that the needs of our customers are ever increasing. And these needs are constantly changing. The Augmented GSA replies to their needs. Not only with the new abilities but also regarding the sustainability. Today, it is an important issue for a customer to pay attention to. The industry is aware of all this, so it responds very favourably to what we put in place and bring to the table. We are continually reviewing our positioning in relation to what might be described as traditional approaches, seeking that balance. The key in a constantly changing world is agility and that is exactly what we are offering the industry through this Augmented GSA strategy,” said Thominet.
“ECS Group will continue to be the leading GSA, leading the way on important issues such as digitalization but also sustainability with a new business model. ECS Group will offer a completely diversified range of services based on all the skills already in place for TCM with the development of new activities. And perhaps in a few years’ time ECS Group will be a one-stop shop for freight expertise and will no longer be considered a GSA, but will have another name,” he concluded.
ECS Group continues to embark on a global expansion
Under the leadership of the Paris-born, Adrien Thominet, ECS Group has remarkably grown from strength to strength.
The globe-trotting Thominet first joined ECS in 1995 as Commercial Manager of the company’s AeroCargo business unit, subsequently, becoming the Managing Director. In 2009, he accepted the challenge of leading the commercial development of the Group, and in 2011, he became the Chief Operating Officer.
In 2017, ECS Group nominated Thominet as Chief Executive Officer to fully align with the transformative needs of their partners and clients and support them to navigate the shift to compete in the digital economy.
With hard work, a unifying presence, innovation and astute business sense, Thominet delivered remarkably. By 2021, he’s been named as the Executive Chairman of ECS Group, the firm he has served for more than 27 years now.
Under the new normal, Thominet and his team are bent on pursuing further global expansion. Here’s their take on different continents and why ECS Group should be there.
EUROPE—The markets of Netherlands, France, Spain and Germany but also the Nordics and Eastern Europe are very active. The reduced Euro exchange rate will help competitiveness on exports, but will affect import potential into Western Europe. At the same time, capacities are increasing in particular on the North Atlantic.
The bottleneck-factor is increasingly affecting the availability of manpower to handle aircraft in the main European hubs. We see strings of cancellations at London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt for example and expect this to continue. We aim to further strengthen our customer portfolio in Europe, in particular in the domain of Total Cargo Management as we have a stronger flexibility when it comes to hiring staff in comparison to most of the airlines.
LATIN AMERICA –The region has an enormous potential, even more so with the growth of e-commerce. The number of marketplaces is increasing which is a good omen. We plan to strengthen our presence in the region in the short-term through new acquisitions allowing us to have almost full coverage in the Americas within 2022, first semester of 2023 the latest.
ASIA-PACIFIC—Asia is the “world’s factory” and will soon increase its market share. This is reflected in the order forecasts of Boeing and Airbus. The increase in e-commerce in the region is accompanied by a subsequent increase in perishable goods, automobiles, chemicals, etc. Our expansion plans consider the North-East, especially Japan, as having the greatest dynamic potential.
MIDDLE EAST—Dubai is our stronghold, which is developing very well. We are also looking at increasing our footprint in the Middle East further.
NORTH AMERICA—We have had a tremendous development in the USA in particular in our customer portfolio to and from South America from the USA. There is room for further growth in particular on the Transpacific trade lane where we see strong potential in particular with Asian carriers.
AFRICA—We are relying on partnerships in Africa to service our customer base in Europe. We are also looking at acquisitions, but we will do this step-by-step.
ECS Group has also its own airline, Niger Air Cargo. This is a real added value that strengthens the group’s African expertise and benefits directly from GSA’s know-how. Niger Air Cargo transports absolutely everything, especially military equipment.
ISTANBUL, Türkiye—Turkish Cargo’s worldwide airfreight market share rose to 4.8% pushing its rank to climb up to the 4th place among global air cargo carriers, according to market intelligence research firm World Air Cargo Data (WACD).
“This success achieved by Turkish Cargo demonstrates our commitment to make Türkiye the heart of the air cargo industry in the world. Turkish Cargo’s geopolitical position and infrastructure capabilities will also lead our country to become an even more important player in the air cargo industry. Thus, we will realize our goal of ensuring Turkish Cargo’s place as one of the top 3 air cargo brands in 2025 in accordance with our plans,” said Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bolat.
Rising to the first place in the Eastern European market and surpassing top brands in America, Europe and the Far East, Turkish Cargo managed to carry one cargo out of 5 in the world as well. It ranked 2nd in the United Arab Emirates market, where it grew by 18 percent on the basis of sale-tonnage on year-on-year basis and ranked 3rd in India.
Turkish Cargo, which entered a period of rapid growth after 2010 with the strategies implemented, continued its rise with a positive differentiation during the pandemic period when the global air cargo industry was going through a difficult period.
As recorded by IATA data in 2010, the carrier ranked 33rd in the world. Then, according to WorldACD data, Turkish Cargo ranked 10th with a market share of 3.2 percent in 2017, and 4th with a market share of 4.8 in June 2022.
Flying to more international destinations than any other airline in the world in terms of passenger and cargo flights, Turkish Cargo was servicing 73 direct destinations in 2017, and now tops 100, up by 36.98 percent.
Turkish Cargo aims to further widen the routes it serves to 120 by 2025. The cargo carrier transported 1.8 million tons of various goods in 2021, pushing its global revenue to $3.5 billion.
Turkish Airlines Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Bolat
“Amerijet has been providing transportation services for almost half a century because of our customer-focused culture. Our emphasis is on adapting technology to our customer-focused culture with investments and better processes to reimagine the customer experience for the air cargo industry.” Eric Wilson, Amerijet CCO
For nearly half a century, Amerijet International Airlines has dedicated its services throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America and Europe, from its main hub at the Miami International Airport, supporting their economies, small businesses and people by safely transporting all kinds of goods on all occasions and seasons.
In recent years, the company has been widely recognized for its long-term and short-term ACMI and CMI charter services thanks to its seamless and transparent transportation solutions for customers shipping time-sensitive, valuable, hazardous material, temperature-controlled and other commodity types.
Indeed, Amerijet has successfully connected small businesses, particularly those located in the Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America to the world, providing seamless trade lanes and access to uninterrupted global supplies.
“The customer ACMI and CMI benefits depend on the customer’s type of business and their business needs for a dedicated aircraft operating a specific route. Or, in the case of CMI, their business need requires Amerijet to operate their aircraft for them,” Amerijet Chief Commercial Officer Eric Wilson explains.
With its own fleet of modern aircraft and highly skilled staff, Amerijet operates long and short-term charters for customers from all types of industries.
The Miami-based cargo carrier welcomed six B757 freighters to its fleet in March 2022, part of its comprehensive expansion and modernization strategy launched in 2020. Amerijet operates a total of 20 freighters consisting of 14 Boeing 767s and six Boeing 757s that offer its customers versatility, range, and payload capability, ideally suited for destinations throughout its Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South American and European network.
“This industry is difficult to predict, but we expect to see continued strong global demand for air cargo similar to 2021 and overall, continued pressure on the global supply chain across modes. We also anticipate fuel prices to remain high. We also expect to continue to grow across the business and offer our customers reliable capacity when and where it’s needed.”
When disaster strikes in Latin America, count on Amerijet to be the first to bring emergency relief aid. “Emergency response is different; our charter division handles that. We always strive to be the first carrier providing medical and emergency aid in our service region (Caribbean, Mexico, Central/South America),” said Wilson.
Pulling all resources
This pandemic, Amerijet triumphantly rose to the challenges of the time, pulling together all its resources to deliver vital medical supplies, including COVID-19 vaccines, and other necessities to communities and businesses relying on its services to survive tough times.
“The pandemic enabled Amerijet to showcase what we do best, and have done, for nearly 50 years- transport critical shipments across our network for our customers, partners and friends, including life-saving Covid-19 vaccines. Our entire company has pulled together in unimaginable ways throughout the pandemic to deliver for our customers,” shared Wilson, a prolific and globe-trotting aviation expert who joined the company in February 2021.
Amerijet continues to innovate and introduce cost-effective solutions as the global economic recovery efforts roll on.
“We have learned to expect the unexpected during the past three years. Our customers are telling us they expect the industry will continue to be pressured, with continued strong demand for air cargo capacity. We expect fuel prices to continue to remain high in the near term and we are watching this very closely. Geopolitical events around the world will impact our business,” said Wilson.
“We are still living under a global pandemic. How will sub-variants impact our lives and how will countries respond? While these questions get addressed, we are going to stay flexible, continue to invest in our businesses including enhancing our scheduled and non-scheduled services, stay focused on our customers and learn to live with and grow under uncertainty,” he added.
1st US carrier recertified with IATA CEIV program
Amerijet’s cold chain pharma standards and processes have been certified by IATA since 2017 and in August 2020, it became the first U.S. airline to be recertified with the IATA CEIV program, enabling it to safely transport COVID-19 vaccines where they were needed when they rolled out later that year.
“It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment to see photos and videos of the first shipments reaching airports and the happiness and relief seen on the faces of those citizens who would be able to get their first shots thanks to the work of literally hundreds of logistics professionals around the world who simply did what they do best every day. I am incredibly proud of what we did and will cherish those memories the rest of my career,” shared Wilson.
Equally important to the delicate mission of transporting the temperature-sensitive COVID-19 vaccines is Amerijet’s 360,000 square-foot import/export facility in Miami, Florida. This includes 40,000 square feet of temperature-controlled receiving and cooler space. The temperature in the cooler is monitored 24/7. Alerts and alarms are sent via email and SMS notification to staff members to intercede as needed to mitigate any risk to the temperature integrity.
Known for its exceptional handling service expertise to all types of pharmaceutical cargo such as vaccines, clinical trials, plasma, raw materials for testing, biomedical products and laboratory reagents, among many other pharma and life-sciences products, Amerijet takes pride in providing world-class standards when it comes to these things.
“We are very proud about our CEIV recertification completed two years ago. Recertification can often be more difficult to achieve than the initial approval and we are so proud of what our operations colleagues did to make this happen. Our team across the board understands what is involved in the correct handling of temperature-controlled products. Our team is aided by a wonderful, purpose-built facility here at our home base in Miami with a state-of-the-art industrial ammonia-powered cooler that is the largest on the U.S. East Coast and located literally steps away from where we load the aircraft,” said Wilson.
“The timing of recertification enabled us to be ready to assist in the transport of the first covid vaccines and we worked with a number of parties, both governmental and non-governmental in early 2021 to ship these vaccines produced in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere across our network into the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America,” he added.
SmartKargo and Amerijet
Apart from investing in aircraft, infrastructure and people, Amerijet has partnered with SmartKargo to provide scalability and greater efficiency as well as a streamlined user experience.
“SmartKargo was selected as our cargo management system in 2020 to replace a legacy system that was first built in 1979s. In many ways, the Amerijet Cargo Management System (ACMS) was ahead of its time and supported the growth of our airline for over 40 years. Like all technology, we had simply come to a place where its sustainability was no longer viable and a replacement system was needed,” said Wilson.
“We looked around the marketplace and the SmartKargo cloud-based system offered the flexibility, scalability and importantly the simplicity we needed. We are incredibly proud of our partnership with SmartKargo. Their team has been incredibly supportive and have proven to be adept listeners and observers as we walked them through our business and how we do things. Overall, we are very happy with how the system is performing since we implemented on March 1 of this year,” he added.
“Change is never easy, especially when it comes at the expense of a system all of us knew so well, but with SmartKargo, we all proved we can learn something new that will be ready to support us as we grow.”
Innovative air cargo technology
Expounding further on SmartKargo’s many benefits to Amerijet’s strategic global growth plans, Wilson said it is an essential tool to provide their customers worldwide access to real-time price quotes, bookings and ability to track shipments across their network.
“Ultimately, air cargo is all about speed across the entire shipment lifecycle, and SmartKargo is the tool empowering that speed,” he said. “Digitization is infinitely scalable and as we grow, the right technology will be able to scale with us to support our employees and customers.”
The pandemic has accelerated digitalization across many industries. The air cargo industry, tasked to transport COVID-19 vaccines, was forced to quickly adapt and adjust to the tech world.
The once cost-prohibitive technology solutions became more accessible and affordable giving the air cargo industry more incentive to embrace digitalization.
“The air cargo industry does not lack for challenges and attracts professionals who are good at solving problems. I think in the past, where the industry lacked a strong tech solution, or a tech solution was available but cost prohibitive, the industry simply put people in place to solve a problem. We are now seeing an emergence of strong technology solutions that are more affordable than ever before available to the industry. This is driven by agile companies that see opportunities in the industry and have clever and innovative solutions to fix nagging problems,” said Wilson.
“Amerijet is a forwarding-leaning, pro-technology company and we believe we are just the right size to implement any number of solutions that will make it easier for our employees to do their jobs and enable our customers to have the products, tools and information they need to easily do business with us. Companies need to offer their employees the best, cutting-edge technology. When the best employees are matching with innovative, leading technology, sustainable growth follows,” he noted.
E-commerce continues to be the preferred shopping method of many consumers — and will continue to be popular. People have become accustomed to having supplies delivered to their doorstep, the air cargo industry must continue to provide innovative technological solutions that will facilitate safe and quick transportation of various goods.
“We are shopping as much as we ever did before the pandemic but doing it from the comfort of our living rooms. It’s imperative that customers have a positive experience and the companies that get it right are going to be successful and survive for the long run,” the Amerijet CCO stressed.
“Amerijet has been around for almost half a century because of our customer-focused culture. What we intend to do is adapt technology to our customer-focused culture with investments and better processes to reimagine the customer experience for the air cargo industry.”
BRUSSELS—From 1 March 2023, all freight forwarders, air carriers, express couriers, and postal operators transporting goods to or through the European Union (including Norway and Switzerland) will be required to submit advance cargo information in the form of a complete entry summary declaration (ENS), under the second phase of the EU’s new customs pre-arrival security and safety programme – Import Control System 2 (ICS2) Release 2, the European Commission announced.
Economic operators’ responsibility to comply with ICS2 Release 2 requirements
From 1 March 2023, economic operators involved in handling, sending, shipping and transporting cargo, express or postal consignments to or via the EU by air have to comply with new advance data reporting requirements for pre-loading and pre-arrival customs risk assessments.
By collecting data about all goods entering the EU prior to their loading and arrival, ICS2 supports effective risk-based customs controls while facilitating free flow of legitimate trade across the EU’s external borders. ICS2 will simplify the movement of goods between customs offices at the first point of entry and final destination in the EU. For economic operators, ICS2 will streamline requests for additional information and pre-departure risk screening by customs authorities.
In addition to air carriers’ ENS filing responsibilities under the multiple filing regime of Release 2, freight forwarders, express couriers, and postal operators will also be legally responsible for providing data. They either have to share it with the air carriers, who will then complete the ENS filing requirements, or submit the data directly to ICS2.
Postal operators and express couriers, who have previously been declaring partial information regarding inbound shipments (under ICS2 Phase 1), will now also be required to coordinate with their air carrier to submit all required data.
Those in the air transport sector who are currently filing advance cargo information into Import Control System (ICS) will have to gradually start filing this data into ICS2 during the operational roll-out of Release 2.
Preparing for ICS2 Release 2: Conformance Testing
Economic operators are strongly advised to prepare in advance for Release 2, in order to avoid the risk of delays and non-compliance.
To help prepare for the introduction of ICS2 Release 2, the European Commission will make available a conformance testing environment from July 2022 until February 2023, to be able to verify the economic operator’s ability to access and exchange messages with
customs authorities through the intended ICS2 trader interface. This conformance testing is mandatory for all economic operators concerned. Economic operators responsible for filing ENS data to ICS2 should determine whether they have an existing Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number. If not, they should contact the EU customs authority of their choice to get this number and to receive support in preparing for ICS2 Release 2.
They should also evaluate their trade operations for the handling of imports into the EU and contact their selected customs authority to connect and take part in the upcoming Release 2 conformance testing.
What is ICS2 Release 2?
The EU Import Control System 2 (ICS2) is a large-scale initiative to enhance customs oversight of the movement of goods prior to their arrival at the EU external borders (air, maritime, land and inland waterways). ICS2 enables customs authorities to identify high-risk consignments that necessitate early intervention, while facilitating legitimate trade into the customs territory of the EU, Norway, and Switzerland.
The system is being implemented in three releases. Having successfully completed Release 1 covering the pre-loading process for postal and express consignments by air on 15 March 2021, Release 2 is the next step in the system’s implementation, and it will go live on 1 March 2023. Release 3 will be implemented from 1 March 2024, requiring operators carrying goods on maritime and inland waterways, roads and railways to comply with the new regulations.
The European Commission is leading the operational delivery of ICS2 in close collaboration with customs authorities in Member States, Norway and Switzerland and industry stakeholders. For more information about ICS2 and Release 2, please see the European Commission’s webpage.
“I do not think I have stopped learning from this pandemic or indeed in life in general, but a major lesson learned for me recently, was how quickly people band together to find solutions and the speed at which creativity and relentless work ethic comes rushing forward in times of need.”
Q&A with Matthieu Casey Air Canada Managing Director Commercial – Cargo
Air Canada has shown incredible resilience and innovation during the pandemic, serving Canadaʼs people across its vast terrain that occupies much of North Americaʼs continent, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and the Arctic Ocean in the north.
The airline reaches out even to the farthest corners of the country helping people and businesses survive the freezing cold months with temperatures as low as -5°C and -15 °C or sometimes below -30°C in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Beyond the Canadian borders, Air Canada also transports different types of cargo. Its good business standing in the industry has resulted to a 42% increase on its revenue in Q1 2022 to $398 million.
The Quebec-based Matthieu Casey, Air Canada’s Managing Director for Commercial Cargo, shares his insights in this Q&A about the company’s journey amid the air cargo industry’s growing influence and role in facilitating global economic and healthcare recovery efforts following the pandemic.
Casey, a communications graduate at University of Ottawa, who also studied at The Wharton School, has spent over 25 years in the aviation industry, the last 12 at Air Canada Cargo.
Prior to his promotion, he was Air Canada Cargo’s Senior Director, Cargo Global Sales & Revenue Optimization. In his new role, he oversees global sales, revenue management, and cargo analytics with responsibility for the airline’s digital and direct
How is business doing so far for Air Canada Cargo since the pandemic struck in March of 2020? Please elaborate and share some figures if possible?
The entire team at Air Canada Cargo and indeed Air Canada as a whole was tremendously quick to pivot and ensure capacity was put back into the market on key trade lanes, with a particular focus on sustained and regular scheduled capacity to ensure market stability for the air cargo community. This approach provided much needed stability in an otherwise very unstable time and was testament to our dedication to serving our customers and long-standing partnerships.
Our growth, both on volumes and revenue, has been very positive, and is in fact outpacing many of our market peers. The growth was also sustained and sure-footed, with a steady upward trend and our 2021 revenue numbers being more than double our 2019 numbers.
What are your plans for 2022 to keep up with the growing demand for air cargo services?
As announced last year, we are tremendously excited to be commencing our freighter operations, with the first of our eight converted Boeing 767-300ER freighters having entered service late last year. Our second will enter service this month and a subsequent six more will enter into service by 2023 at a cadence of about one every four months. This growth, coupled with the resumption of our passenger network, will
provide an increase in cargo capacity in 2022 above pre-pandemic levels.
How many employees do you currently have? How many more will you likely hire as you widen your services?
Our team has always been a lean yet effective one, but with the growth we have seen and are continuing to plan for, we have been actively recruiting more talent to support our strategy and continue to deliver on our promise on customer service excellence.
What would you say are your biggest challenges in serving your markets globally?
We are much more focused on looking at challenges as opportunities and one such example is what we have witnessed around the world with warehouse congestion. As a result, we are accelerating our infrastructure improvement programs with targeted investments into many of our
strategically positioned self-handled global cargo hubs in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Frankfurt, London, and Chicago.
We have recently increased our warehouse space in Frankfurt and just last month, inaugurated the first phase of our 30,000 sq ft temperature-controlled facility in Toronto.
Do you think automation in cargo handling is the way to move forward? Does the investment justify the benefits or returns?
Automation is certainly a key component of our infrastructure improvements and only increases the productivity of our teams, which leads to improved service to our customers. The added benefit of this is an AirCargo Update improved work environment for our colleagues.
What sort of tech investments have you made to enhance your operations or services?
We are continuing to invest in many digitalization projects tied to improving the customer journey and enhancing the user experience. We have developed and released multiple API s providing streamlined connectivity with our customers and partners, and we have invested in modernizing our contact centres to improve service levels and support our teams and customers.
Our ongoing artificial intelligence labs are improving efficiencies and supporting initiatives aimed at improving decision making, and providing better and more robust capacity outlooks. Another goal is to simplify acceptance processes in our warehouses, which will reduce potential service deviations.
Please update us with the services and products that you currently offer worldwide.
We are CEIV certified both for Live Animals and Pharmaceutical, and provide services across most commodities. Please share a brief
background about yourself and some lessons we could all learn from this pandemic.
I have over 25 years in the airline industry, the last 12 at Air Canada Cargo and have held various roles ranging from Commercial positions in Canada and Global Sales as well as heading up Revenue Management, Interline partnerships, Marketing and Business Intelligence.
What have I learned from the pandemic? I do not think I have stopped learning from this pandemic or indeed in life in general, but a major lesson learned for me recently, was how quickly people band together to find solutions and the speed at which creativity and relentless work ethic comes rushing forward in times of need.
DOHA, Qatar – With India’s pharmaceuticals sector considered as the world’s third largest producer in terms of volume and supplies about 60% of the global vaccine demand, the air cargo industry plays a central role in safely delivering these products worldwide.
When Qatar Airways Cargo launched its pharma product in January 2014, India was one of the first markets to offer it. The airline has since grown to become one of the ISC’s leading cargo carriers, and today, with a pharmaceuticals market share of almost 18% in India, practically every fifth pharma shipment leaves the country on board a Qatar Airways Cargo plane.
“The Indian pharma market is very important for Qatar Airways Cargo,” Ehab Matta, Senior Manager Regional Cargo Indian subcontinent, Middle East & Pakistan – Qatar Airways, explains. “We work closely with major vaccine manufacturers in India through our global partnerships with international as well as leading local freight forwarders.”
It is this close collaboration with customers that led to Hyderabad (HYD) becoming the first station in the Qatar Airways Cargo network, to deploy Envirotainer’s new Releye® RLP containers as soon as they had been approved for carriage on Qatar Airways aircraft. Hyderabad also holds the national record for the most active pharma containers on one flight, having once moved 11 ULDs in one flight.
The city is home to over 2,500 of the country’s 3,000 pharma companies and 10,500 manufacturing units, and is India’s main pharma export station, though Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Bengaluru, and Chennai also play important roles given the widespread pharma production facilities across India.
“India produces and exports both conventional vaccines as well as COVID-19 vaccines,” Matta continues. “Ten COVID-19 vaccines are approved for use in India, whilst Indian manufactured vaccines are approved in over 138 countries globally. We have moved close to 30 million COVID-19 vaccines to date to several destinations across our network including Africa, Middle East, Americas, Europe and Asia. We expect to move more since the COVID-19 vaccine export restriction was lifted by the Indian Government late last year. Our participation in the UNHCR vaccine programme, through Kuehne and Nagel, is a good testimony to our commitment.”
The increasing involvement of both India and Qatar Airways Cargo in supporting healthcare by means of charters and transporting not just pharmaceuticals, but all kinds of aid and relief material, and vaccines, has led to the airline sourcing a suitable candidate to act as Regional Cargo Sales Manager – Products.
Sunita Sanghvi, who joined the airline in Mumbai on 14 March 2022, is responsible for its pharma product development across India and the rest of the ISC region; and will work closely with the regional sales teams, customers, and partners, to provide dedicated focus, enhanced and tailor-made solutions in the face of increasing pharma demand across India and rest of ISC. “Having said that, most of our teams across all Indian stations are trained in our pharma product and are well versed with commercial and operational requirements as well as specific customer needs. It could be said that our largest pool of pharma experts is based in India,” Matta emphasises, pointing out, too, that the Indian teams are supported by the Central product management team based at the Doha head office.
“If you are interested in learning more about what we do, you can meet up with members of our pharma team in person at this year’s air cargo India event from 31 May 2022 to 02 June 2022. We will be at booth C101. We look forward to seeing you there,” Ehab Matta concludes.
Manufacturing pharmaceutical products and transporting them have always been a noble and big business but it became even bigger when the pandemic struck.
Countless tons of vital medical supplies like masks, gloves, sanitizers, personal protective equipment, among others, are needed on a daily basis for healthcare and frontline workers and the public. There’s also the need to distribute billions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines to nearly 8 billion people across the planet in need of protection against the virus.
The vaccine distribution is a monumental task for the air cargo industry which described it as the “mission of the century.” But more than two years on since the pandemic began, only a small fraction of the world got access to COVID-19 vaccines, mostly affluent countries that can afford to buy and ship them immediately.
COVAX, the global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by the GAVI vaccine alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization, alongside key delivery partner UNICEF, said over 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines have been shipped to 144 countries.
But global leaders have called for urgent additional funding of at least $5.2 billion to establish a Pandemic Vaccine Pool of at least 600 million additional doses to address uncertainties and risks in the virus’ evolution.
They are convinced that the best way to protect and build on the progress made so far is to help as many people as possible around the world receive their primary vaccination while ensuring an ability to act quickly in response to any future developments of the pandemic. This would be critical not only to protect the health and economies of lower income countries, but also to protect the entire world against continuing waves of virus variants.
The global vaccines market size in 2019 was estimated to be valued at $46.88 billion. By 2027, it would reach $104.87 billion at 10.7% growth during the forecast period.
The global pharmaceuticals market size, meanwhile, is expected to gain momentum by reaching $2,151.1 billion by 2027 while exhibiting a CAGR of 7.0% between 2020 and 2027. This was largely attributed to growth on chronic diseases worldwide and the lingering pandemic that requires continued distribution of medicines and vaccines, according to Fortune Business Insights.
Etihad Cargo, the national airfreight carrier of the United Arab Emirates, is among those on the frontline to help address the world’s increasing need for the safe distribution of COVID-19 vaccines as well as pharmaceuticals and other life-science products.
A proud member of Hope Consortium, the Abu Dhabi-led public and private initiative on a mission to safely deliver large quantities of COVID-19 vaccines globally, Etihad Cargo takes pride on its bespoke solution in handling pharmaceutical products, which include vaccines.
The company said PharmaLife uses specially designed, temperature-controlled equipment and specific processes to ship pharmaceuticals around the world in the quickest and safest way possible.
It is hallmarked by Active and Hybrid full-portfolio containers with PharmaLife Active solutions in the case of premium and highly sensitive products. PharmaLife Passive Solutions, with three specific temperature ranges, namely +2° to + 8°, +15° to + 25°, and +2° to +25°, ensuring the right process and storage conditions.
Martin Drew, Senior Vice President Sales & Cargo, Etihad Aviation Group, explains to Air Cargo Update how Pharmalife transports sensitive temperature-controlled pharmaceuticals in quickest way possible.
“Pharmaceutical shipment handling and loading are always prioritized, with an average of just 60 minutes between aircraft and cooling facility. All shipments pass through the Etihad Cargo hub in Abu Dhabi and connect to more than 70 global destinations,” Drew said in an email interview.
“Each shipment journey is also managed and monitored by a dedicated team of experts. From the Cargo Control Center in Abu Dhabi to the on-ground specialists, by using real-time data from temperature-controlled storage and cargo hold temperature devices located in the aircraft, the team is entrusted and able to deliver end-to-end product integrity,” he added.
Etihad Cargo adheres to the highest compliance guidelines and was the first carrier in the Middle East to gain IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certification for pharmaceutical logistics.
Currently operating across more than 1,100 IATA CEIV Pharma/GDP certified trade lanes, the carrier’s expertise in this sector – augmented courtesy of PharmaLife – has resulted in a 45 percent year-on-year rise in volume and an 85 percent increase in revenue of pharma shipments in 2021, according to Drew.
Through PharmaLife, Etihad Cargo handles all temperature-control requirements from -80°C through to +25°C.
Vaccines are typically transported at between +2°C to +8°C, however, to respond to customer requirements, Etihad Cargo said it expanded its Boeing Dreamliner and Boeing 777 fleet dry ice carrying capabilities as the Pfizer, Moderna and Sputnik COVID-19 vaccines all need to be maintained between -70°C and -18°C.
At the beginning of this year, Etihad Cargo moved more than 2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Cambodia on behalf of UNICEF, the world’s largest vaccine supplier. It also made a record shipment of 109 tons of fashion and electronics from Vietnam and shipped 39 horses from Chicago to Riyadh. Its product verticals are diverse: from pharma to fresh food, flowers and everything in between.
“Naturally, shipping pharmaceuticals is complex and subject to myriad technical factors. Each manufacturer issues specific temperature-control requirements that must be applied to individual pharmaceutical products and adhered to throughout the journey to maintain product integrity. For example, some vaccines require -80°C, so last year Etihad Cargo secured UAE GCAA approval to expand its dry ice carrying capabilities across its Boeing Dreamliner and Boeing 777 fleet. The carrier can now carry up to five times more dry ice per flight, enabling it to provide customers with enhanced frozen and deep-frozen conditions, a necessity for some types of vaccine,” said Drew.
“In addition to its certification, Etihad Cargo actively participates in associations such as Pharma.aero, the Cool Chain Association, and IATA. Through that involvement, the carrier is working closely with all stakeholders to share experience and explore innovations as a collective, further elevating the whole industry’s capabilities.”
Etihad Cargo provides tailored solutions to handle all temperature-control requirements from -80°C through to +25°C. It has also worked with a number of ULD and specialized pharma container manufacturers to develop options that maintain temperature parameters.
Envirotainer, Csafe Global, Dokaschand, Skycell and Va-Q-Tecto all offer premium leasing options for pharmaceutical and life science shipments. The carrier’s active and hybrid solutions mean shipments are always stored and transported safely and securely at the correct and steady temperature, while providing both the carrier and the customer real-time monitoring and tracking.
“To ensure passive cargo maintains the correct temperature, a pre-cooled thermal blanket is applied before loading and offloading. This blanket stabilizes the environment of the shipment shielding it from extreme weather conditions and protecting the product integrity,” Drew explained.
“Etihad Cargo has partnered directly with the architects of the ULDs who came up with an innovative deep-frozen solution to house drugs at -70°C and it advises on the types of coolant used in the containers of each aircraft type. This enables the carrier to better anticipate and prepare to implement the specific types of packaging within their supply chain, thus minimizing risk.
“Through the partnership with Envirotainer, for instance, Etihad Cargo can closely monitor pharma shipments and provide its customers real-time data, including temperature and locations. It also operates a state-of-the-art, dedicated Cargo Control Center 24/7. This center is the digital heartbeat of the carrier’s cargo operation, tracking, monitoring, and controlling all shipments to minimize any potential delays, while simultaneously addressing and resolving issues in real-time to reduce any cold-chain disruption and ensure product integrity.”
Etihad’s Cargo Control Center uses digital technology and data-driven insights to effectively monitor all these things as well as controlling all shipments from start to finish.
The cargo airline said it has always been committed to the transportation of pharmaceuticals, but the pandemic has emphasized the need for its ability to effectively and securely ship vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies that have enabled the roll-out of vaccine programs across the globe.
In March 2020, Etihad Cargo launched its passenger freighter operations to provide additional capacity to transport essential medical cargo. It has also set-up a COVID-19 workforce that worked with partners on prioritizing key shipments and embarked on an aggressive program with the UAE government for food security and aid distribution. November 2020 witnessed the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Hope Consortium which was committed to the distribution of the COVID 19 vaccines around the world.
In addition, in February 2021, the carrier joined the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to support its Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative, distributing humanitarian supplies to children in underdeveloped countries.
“For shipments transported through the Hope Consortium, Etihad Cargo partner Maqta Gateway – Abu Dhabi Ports’ digital technologies subsidiary – has developed mUnity, which is a proprietary custom-built digital system that employs blockchain technology to track and trace COVID-19 vaccine sourcing, storage, shipment, and all related data in real-time. The system features robust end-to-end visibility of every vaccine, starting from the manufacturing facility right up to when it arrives at vaccination centers both in the UAE and abroad. Based on the availability of data, the system has the capability to track individual vaccine doses up until the time of the administration of the actual dose,” Drew shared.
“Etihad Cargo also uses a combination of smart ULDs for passive shipments, including Envirotainer RLP track and trace, which provides temperature-controlled air cargo containers with up to 170 hours of autonomy maintaining the temperature and protecting the cargo, as well as CSafe Global, which offers live monitoring and shipment visibility insights.
“Lastly, Etihad Cargo customers are able to monitor their shipments on the carrier’s CIQ system; a monitoring tool that enables them to track the journey in real time, providing full transparency and an enhanced experience.”
Etihad Cargo has also played a critical role in the global humanitarian aid program, transporting more than 400 tons of aid to more than 40 countries around the world.
“The carrier took a proactive approach to the anticipated challenges that came with COVID-19. From the outset of the pandemic, demand for premium pharmaceutical solutions increased, Etihad Cargo focused on its partners and enhanced its product specifications. It also established a COVID-19 Workforce and Steering Committee to drive the pandemic response and to continue to support the shipment of vaccines around the world,” said Drew.
Geneva, Switzerland—The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released March 2022 data for global air cargo markets showing a drop in demand. The effects of Omicron in Asia, the Russia – Ukraine war and a challenging operating backdrop contributed to the decline.
Global demand, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs*), fell 5.2% compared to March 2021 (-5.4% for international operations).
“Air cargo markets mirror global economic developments. In March, the trading environment took a turn for the worse. The combination of war in Ukraine and the spread of the Omicron variant in Asia have led to rising energy costs, exacerbated supply chain disruptions, and fed inflationary pressure. As a result, compared to a year ago, there are fewer goods being shipped—including by air. Peace in Ukraine and a shift in China’s COVID-19 policy would do much to ease the industry’s headwinds. As neither appears likely in the short-term, we can expect growing challenges for air cargo just as passenger markets are accelerating their recovery,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
March Regional Performance