Middle East Air Cargo & Logistics Conference

Published: Friday, February 15, 2019

Experts weigh in on air freight and logistics in the digital age

Beyond the confluence of cyclical financial and commercial trends, a range of other issues affect the global air cargo industry like varying government business and environmental regulations, market liberalization, volatile fuel prices, among others.

While the potential risks and challenges will always be there, experts are convinced the industry is still headed for growth with demand for air freight increasing as the global market opts for faster and better ways to get their goods delivered.

According to Boeing's World Air Cargo Forecast 2018-2037, air cargo traffic will more than double in the next 20 years and global freighter fleet will increase by over 70 percent to 3,260 planes from the current 1,870. The industry's revenue ton-kilometers (RTK) in 2018 jumped by 4 percent with cargo revenue estimated to have exceeded $100 billion.

At the two-day Middle East Air Cargo and Logistics Conference (MEACL) held on January 29-30 at Dubai South, industry leaders discussed at length pressing issues challenging the sector while expressing hope for better times.

The two-day conference opened up discussing the topic “The Big Picture on Air Cargo & the Global Supply Chain” with Thomas Crabtree, Regional Director Airline Market Analysis for Boeing, responsible for Europe, the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as moderator.

Nadia Abdul Aziz, President of the National Association of Freight & Logistics (NAFL-UAE), Henrik Ambak, Emirates' SVP Cargo Operations Worldwide and Vladimir Zubkov, Secretary General of TIACA, talked at length about the issue.

Zubkov said the industry needs unity, political will and a strong partnership to overcome its challenges and facilitate much needed changes to keep up with the times, particularly in technology.

Tom Erling Mikkelsen, Head of Airfreight at Marine Harvest, shared later in the day how Norway's salmon industry keeps the airlines busy with more than 6 million salmons flown all-year-round by air to different countries.

Norway's prospect for salmon export looks better this year with solid growth emanating from the Chinese market.

On Day 2, Turkish Cargo CCO Turhan Ozen, Oman Aviation Group Business Development Executive Logistics & Cargo Sultan Al Rawahi, Oman Air Cargo Customer Service Manager Gianluca Marcangelo and ALS Logistics Solutions Marketing Executive Alexandra Deeva shared their thoughts on investments in air cargo and logistics infrastructure. Liege Airport VP Commercial Steven Verhasselt acted as the moderator.

All agree disruptive technologies will be the main driving force in aviation, air freight and logistics, as well as the supply chain, with many companies already applying AI and high-tech systems into their operations to speed up the process.

Istanbul Airport, the world's newest and biggest international airport, unveiled on October 29, 2018, Turkey's 95th Republic Day, is laden with technology and boosts of modern facilities, including in cargo, and enjoys the advantage of being in the crossroad of Europe and the Middle East.

Ozen said Istanbul Airport will enable Turkish Cargo, a subsidiary of Turkish Airlines which has a fleet of 333 aircraft serving 124 countries, aims to haul as much as 3 million tons of cargo by 2023 and one of the top cargo brand carriers globally by then.

And that goal is attainable through the company's investment on technology and better facilities. Marcus Berg, Dubai South Director of Business Development-Logistics District, disclosed the pioneering effort of the company to provide the local and regional e-commerce sector with a competitive platform through the creation of EZDubai, a 920,000 sqm purpose-built e-commerce zone within Dubai South's Logistics District set to unlock vast potentials in online commerce.

Berg said EZDubai provides a range of logistics facilities and business solutions designed for startups, SMEs, innovation labs and incubation centers to support local, regional and trans-continental businesses serving both business-to-business and end consumers.

Fatima Ait Bendawad, Business Development Manager Aid & Relief Services, DHL Global Forwarding and Nick Harris, Cargo Sales Director-Middle East Air Charter Service, enlightened the delegates at the crucial role of air freight and logistics in bringing relief to people in conflict zones and those affected by natural disasters. Liana Coyne, Director Coyne Airways, an Oxford-educated lawyer engaged in various charity and philanthropic projects in poor communities across the world, acted as the panel moderator.

Other notable speakers at the event include—Sanjeev Gadhia, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya- based Astral Aviation; Gregory Gottlieb, Managing Director, Airships Arabia; Sunil Malhotra, Managing Partner, Bchain Consultants; Palaniappan N, DNATA Business Improvements Manager, and; Alan White, Vice President Operations at RSA National.

Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub and EZDubai open for business

Dubai South's Aviation District has formally been renamed in January as the Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub in honor of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who is widely credited for transforming Dubai into a global business and financial center.

“With the aviation industry as one of the key growth industries, it is only fitting to name this incredibly important hub in his honor. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Aerospace Hub remains committed to elevating Dubai as the region's aerospace capital by ensuring that we advance through excellence and deliver value that will benefit millions,” said Khalifa Al Zaffin, Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation (DACC) & Dubai South.

At the renaming ceremony, EZ Dubai was simultaneously launched as the new e-commerce zone within Dubai South's Logistics District.

Experts estimate e-commerce in the GCC region to grow to US$24 billion by 2022 and EZDubai's six dedicated areas—Last Mile Centers, E-Fulfillment Centers, Repair & Return Centers, Supply Centers, Business Blocks (shared buildings), and Business Blocks for Regional Headquarters—are tailored for the industry's growth.

The Mohammad bin Rashid Aerospace Hub, with AED 17 billion total government and private sector investments, is designed to create an effective value chain for the aerospace sector & increase the GDP contribution of advanced industries to the emirate's economic growth. Spread over 6.7-sqm of land, the hub comprises of the commercial strip, maintenance and technical support, business aviation, education and R&D.

The Aerospace Hub is home to a five-star VIP Terminal facility which hosts some of the world's leading Fixed Base Operators for private jets, including Falcon Aviation, JETEX, and Jet Aviation, providing major business entities bespoke aviation services and seamless connectivity, and proximity advantages to the world's largest airport in the making, the Al Maktoum International Airport.

It also serves as the E2 Event and Exhibition Centre, a dedicated exhibition zone and permanent home of the Dubai Airshow and the Emirates Flight Academy.

Dubai South is envisioned to become a smart and sustainable city, preferred as the place to live, work and invest for at least one million people. As an economic platform, it is home to leading world events such as Expo 2020 and the Dubai Airshow, expected to provide at least 500,000 jobs and become an important hub for global trade and commerce.