Feb -Mar 19

Weaker economic outlook clouds prospects for 2019

Stalling world trade growth in the final quarter of 2018 that contributed to a slight fall in air freight traffic figures during the final months of last year have led the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to reappraise – with a view to downgrading – its forecast for 2019.

The stagnation in world trade in the final quarter follows weakening economic growth rates in China and the European Union in the second half of last year that the IMF expects to continue into the first few quarters of 2019. Along with the US-China trade dispute, these are among a number of factors that have caused the IMF to downgrade its forecasts for world economic growth this year to 3.5% from the 3.7% forecast in its October report – and from the estimated growth rate of 3.7% in 2018. The IMF also reduced its 2020 global growth outlook from
3.7% to 3.6%.

It said the Eurozone, and Germany in particular, had seen weaker industrial production, and concerns in Italy about sovereign and financial risks had weighed on domestic demand, while the contraction in Turkey is now projected to be deeper than anticipated. Although the IMF’s growth forecast for the United States remains unchanged, with growth expected to decline from 2.9% in 2018 to 2.5% in 2019 and soften further to 1.8% in 2020, its forecast for growth in advanced economies overall is projected to slow from an estimated 2.3% in 2018 to 2.0% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020 – around 0.1 percentage point lower than in the IMF’s October forecast, mostly due to downward revisions for the euro area.
Brian Pearce, chief economist at IATA, told CAAS that the organisation will be releasing a revised air freight forecast at the World Cargo Symposium in March and that the association believes its 3.7% growth forecast for 2019 “now looks optimistic”. He explained that towards the end of last year, when the organisation had released its most-recent forecast for 2019, it had thought the weakening in air freight last year was a temporary impact from the ending of the business restocking cycle. However, in the fourth quarter, the new factor was that overall world trade stopped growing – a sign of the wider pressures from protectionism that also had a similar effect on air freight traffic.
Abrupt stop
Indeed, an analysis briefing by IATA in early February noted: “In the final quarter of 2018, air freight tonne kilometers flown abruptly stopped growing.”

IATA’s analysis broadly matches observations by WorldACD, which noted: “Air cargo showed two distinct faces in 2018 as a whole. Each month in the period January to August showed year-on-year (YoY) volume growth, albeit in ever-smaller percentages as the year progressed. Still, the 3.7% YoY overall growth in that period looked good, given the fact that 2017 had been a bumper year.

“In the period September to December, however, things started to look much less positive. Three out of the four months showed a YoY volume decrease, resulting in an overall decrease for this period of 0.6%. Volume for the whole year was 2.2% up on 2017.”

In a wider update analysis seen by CAAS, IATA made similar observations, noting: “Air cargo grew strongly from late 2016 and during 2017, as shippers turned to air freight to rapidly restock their inventories, having been caught out by the strength of the economic upturn. Air cargo volumes then slowed sharply last year, when the inventory restocking cycle reached its end as businesses once more had comfortable levels of inventory and switched to slower but cheaper modes of transport.

“As a result, having gained share of world trade in 2017, air cargo started to lose share in 2018. So far, that was a typical restocking cycle; nothing to worry about. We had expected underlying growth trends to then resume. However, that changed in the fourth quarter of 2018 when not only was air cargo depressed by the end of the restocking cycle, but overall world trade stopped growing.”

Border frictions
IATA noted that industrial production and GDP continued to expand in the fourth quarter, highlighting that “the stalling of world trade reflects not weaker demand, but border frictions”. It described Brexit as “one manifestation of wider populist political pressures that have damaged cross-border trade and supply chains. Another is the tariff war between the US and China.”
With the US threatening to more than double tariffs to 25% on another $200 billion of Chinese imports on 2 March, IATA said that “unless these wider world trade problems are resolved, our forecast for 3.7% FTK growth this year is now looking rather optimistic”.

In its observations in December on air freight pricing, IATA had forecast that average yields would increase by around 2% in 2019, following on from rises of around 10% in 2018, although these predictions may now also be subject to revision, with capacity growth having now outstripped demand growth for the last 10 months.

Indeed, WorldACD noted that, alongside a 3.5% YoY fall in chargeable weight in December and a 5.8% month-over-month (MoM) decline, average worldwide air cargo yields moved slightly downwards to US$2.00 in December 2018, 2.2% lower than in December 2017 and 3.7% lower than in November 2018 – although measured in euros, December’s yields increased by 1.7%, YoY.

WorldACD commented: “Viewed against the market developments we witness since September, December can be justly characterised as weak: the ‘double whammy’ of negative volume growth with negative yield growth made for a YoY airline revenue drop of 5.6% in US dollars (-1.9% in euros).”

Technology bringing air freight closer to the integrators

Digitalisation of the ULD fleet can accelerate improvements in visibility and quality, believes Unilode’s Benoît Dumont

Air freight continued to grow in 2018, especially in the pharmaceutical and perishable goods sector, and with e-commerce heavily relying on air transport, the potential for further growth is significant. Airlines are increasing their cargo capacity, either by adding more belly space in their widebody passenger aircraft or investing in new freighters. At Unilode, we experience the fleet and cargo demand growth of the industry firsthand as we continuously need to buy new ULDs to provide the containers and pallets, which our customers need, either for their new aircraft or to meet their growing cargo requirements.

Customers expect greater reliability, transparency and visibility − both in B2B and B2C environments − and this is not only a challenge but also an opportunity for the air cargo business to innovate and add value in the air cargo supply chain. The ongoing digitalisation initiatives and projects of various stakeholders in our industry will greatly enhance end-to-end visibility and further reduce or eliminate some cumbersome and error-prone paper-based processes. At the same time, it will put the airline cargo offering much closer to the one of the express integrators.

Collaboration among industry stakeholders will become more crucial for the success of making air cargo able to meet customers’ expectations for more reliability, speed, operational and cost efficiencies. Unilode invests heavily in its digital transformation programme in collaboration with technology providers, ULD manufacturers, and ground handling operators and firmly believes that the digitalisation of the ULD fleet is the enabler for an accelerated improvement in air cargo. New and superior technologies such as the latest version of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) digital tags embedded into the structure of the ULDs, with sensors for temperature, humidity, light and shock and inflight reading capabilities, will make Unilode’s ULD fleet able to deliver the data that customers need to give them a competitive edge in the market and meet their own customers’ expectations.

Safety remains the top priority in air cargo, and ULDs are one of the areas that the industry has to continue to focus on to increase the safety of passengers, crew and aircraft. We have seen some improvements in the ground handling sector, but further changes in processes and work practices are necessary and collaboration among all stakeholders is an absolute necessity. On top of this, Unilode is working on the combination of sensors with inflight capabilities and fire-resistant containers to contribute to securing a safe environment for air cargo.
I believe that 2019 will be a positive year for air cargo, with some exciting digital transformation projects on the go. It will also be interesting to watch the dynamic of the airlines striving to get a bigger share of the air cargo business from the integrators by professionalising their offering and opening new trade lanes. Equally, the introduction of Amazon and Alibaba’s own air cargo capabilities will put pressure on the supply and force the industry to reinvent itself.

Benoît Dumont, CEO of Unilode Aviation Solutions

Europe’s shift to secondary cargo airports

Continuing trend will see RFS networks and air freight ecosystem developing in 2019 around the ‘challenger hubs’, believes Wallenborn’s Jason Breakwell

Specific to our business – air cargo road feeder services (RFS)
Migration of air-cargo growth to ‘secondary’, ‘freighter friendly’ airports has been a reality for two years now and is becoming a trend in Europe which I expect we’ll see more of this year. The legacy airports are increasingly congested by infrastructure and space and restricted by slots and curfews and they didn’t benefit from growing air cargo volumes in 2017 and 2018 to the same extent as challengers such as LEJ, LGG, LUX.

Air cargo ecosystems remain focused on the mega hubs such as AMS, FRA and LHR and this is driving growing demand for RFS between the legacy airports and their challengers. But it is also driving the development of RFS networks from and to the challenger hubs, and we’ll see ecosystems developing in 2019 around the challenger hubs.

Breakthrough year for verticals
2018 was the breakthrough year when we witnessed big growth in demand for niche products, which rewarded the investments made by airlines, airports, handlers and RFS providers. Success in verticals such as aerospace and life sciences requires sharp and determined focus on collaboration, quality and transparency. The fact that we are succeeding gives me optimism that the air-cargo industry has the ability and appetite to change and improve. Biotech in particular will grow significantly this year for Europe.

General road freight issues
We had to make significant adjustments in the past two years to comply with various pieces of new legislation which restrict the employment and movement of truck drivers in many EU countries. Wallenborn fully complies with all national and European legislation laws, although it is onerous and we had hoped that the European Council would step in and harmonise legislation. They missed an opportunity to do that, and with MEP elections coming in May, we don’t expect any harmonisation this year.
Many transport companies have not adapted to the new legal environment, which already resulted in a tightening of capacity in every quarter since the second half of 2017, and the national laws on drivers weekly rests are being aggressively enforced. Higher labour costs and lower productivity are the main impacts of this legislation and after steady increases in 2017 and 2018, I expect transport rates will continue to rise this year.

There remains an urgent need for more of both basic and secure truck parking on many of Europe’s trunk routes and it’s good to see the EU and TAPA have committed to establish and grow a network of validated SSTPAs (Safe & Secure Truck Parking Areas).

Greener freight
On the subject of collaboration, we need a joined-up approach to drastically cut the environmental impact of freight transport. We are increasingly seeing bold and dynamic commitments by cities to become carbon neutral within just ten years, but most environmental initiatives in the freight arena are focused on incremental improvements and we need more ambition, vision and action.
We at Wallenborn dearly want to launch long-distance electric trucks and we have customers that are willing to pay a premium in return for a measurable benefit to their environmental impact. National governments or private partners need to invest in truck (electrical) charging facilities along trunk routes.
Wallenborn has a 100% Euro6 fleet and for many years, road tolls in Germany were significantly lower for Euro6. From 1 January 2019, the toll gap between Euro4 and Euro6 narrowed to just €0.0021 per km. For now, e-trucks pay zero ‘LKW Maut’.

Is this a gimmick, or will it motivate established truck manufacturers or start-ups to fast-track e-truck solutions?

Jason Breakwell is commercial director at Wallenborn Transports

A new era of development for US and Chinese airports

After extended losses beginning in Calendar Year 2000 and only meagre, infrequent spells of recovery through to about 2016, many US airports have now finally strung together consecutive years of localized gains – although about 60 of the top 100 are still below CY2000 cargo throughput levels. Long gone are several once-important all-cargo carriers such as Airborne Express, BAX Global, Emery Worldwide and Kitty Hawk, and the resultant vacancies at US cargo facilities are compounded by the effects of consolidation of US passenger airlines and third-party cargo handlers.

In many cases, available space at vintage US airport facilities may be unsuitable to contemporary needs, especially for a still-evolving e-commerce sector. But while still at cargo deficits to past peak years and with vacant facilities, many airports have struggled to justify new investments in the facilities and infrastructure to support cargo growth for the mid- to long-term.
Nevertheless, improvements stalled close to twenty years can no longer wait, and several major US cargo gateways already seem to be advancing plans for significant upgrades. A new coat of paint is inadequate to address the operational implications of dramatic market share shifts from domestic to international and from passenger aircraft bellies to freighters – and larger freighters than anticipated when aircraft parking ramp was designed at many of these gateways. To cite but one example, proposals for a monumental cargo property redevelopment at LAX are due in the first half of 2019.

Many domestic-focused cargo airports are also likely to require improvements, as well. Operational cuts made after the recession of 2008 by integrated carriers FedEx and UPS seemed to finally be reversing. Whether such developments would require additional facilities or simply layer another operating window over existing capacity will be determined case-by-case.

At least as interesting will be the still-evolving network impacts of Amazon and potentially other e-commerce businesses that could opt to more directly control their air networks. More like the traditional integrators than perhaps any side would concede, Amazon has the resources to establish its own gateways in alternative airports where non-integrated carriers might fear the erosion of handling, trucking and other common services. Consequently, less obvious options such as Stockton, California and Lehigh Valley (Allentown), Pennsylvania have been presented with air cargo growth opportunities unthinkable not long ago.

One of the only other national markets large enough (geographically and economically) to support a national and regional network comparable to the US, the continued maturation of the Chinese markets – both domestic and international – will remain a fixture of cargo industry interests for years to come. While growth at the macro level is certain – even in spite of occasional disruptions caused by trade skirmishes – competition between Chinese airports and their sponsoring provinces is at such a frenzy that it has no proximate equals anywhere. While US and European airports may have comparable enthusiasm, none have the almost unconstrained financial resources nor often the undeveloped land resources for such pursuits.

Network developments among Chinese all-cargo carriers and e-commerce firms should also be full of intrigue. Largely content to depend upon foreign partners for transcontinental lift thus far, these commercial interests are certain to eventually leverage uncommon economies of scale gained from their domestic operations to build proprietary global networks. Will potential economic development opportunities, otherwise depending upon growing international trade, instead languish due to trade wars? And if so, who will benefit politically, if not economically? I guess we’ll find out in the next twelve months.

Michael Webber is associate vice president at global aviation planning and development consultancy Landrum & Brown

TIACA: achievements, reflections, and plans for 2019

The air cargo industry looks set to continue on a path of growth and expansion in 2019, although this may be somewhat tame when compared to the previous 12 months. Many of us in the air freight business were caught off guard by 2017’s demand for air cargo, which led to both new opportunities for business and unexpected challenges. Generally, as a result of being unprepared, there were higher-than-usual waiting times, congestion, and a capacity shortage.

In 2018, everybody was much better prepared. This also looks set to be less of a problem in 2019, with many of the major industry forecast reports predicting a slight slowdown in growth. Everything comes in cycles, and air freight is no different.

There were many challenges we faced in the last year that may continue to pose as an issue in 2019, such as the threat of an escalating trade war, protectionism, and rising political instability in certain parts of the globe. We have also been met by a labour shortage which needs addressing, as well as the need for industry to better adopt new technologies in order to become more efficient, transparent, and productive.

For TIACA, it has also been a year beset by much change. We became more global than ever before, forming strategic partnerships and alliances with associations and organisations on nearly every continent in the world. The year saw us redefine the TIACA strategy as a whole, as well as take positive steps towards improving our financial situation. We have formed a basis on which we will continue to grow and stay relevant in a changing air cargo universe, something that we will resume in 2019. We signed a new partnership with Germany-based global trade organiser Messe Munchen, who are now looking after our signature Air Cargo Forum, which I believe will lead to even more positive change for our association.

TIACA can also stand proud for having enacted its new Cargo Service Quality (CSQ) initiative, which is being adopted by airports and forwarders across the globe in order to drive up standards and quality. We definitely want to expand and grow this initiative further globally; we have to keep up the momentum. So far the feedback has been very positive. Our ambition is to double the number of participating air cargo terminals in 2019.
Training is another concept that we have embraced significantly over the past year, with new initiatives with TSA Group and Brussels Airport Community, in addition to our other usual training initiatives. We also carried out a successful Air Cargo Supply Chain Internship, along with our partners Air Canada Cargo, which involved young people from a number of different supply chain companies learning from each other’s businesses and networking. This is a perfect initiative to attract and retain talents in our industry. Our ambition is to roll this initiative out to other communities globally.

TIACA will continue to advocate for air cargo’s best interests, putting our industry on the map, and preaching about our pivotal role in world trade.

Sebastiaan Scholte is chairman of The International Air Cargo Association and CEO of Jan de Rijk Logistics

Capitalising on new technologies

As always, it’s very difficult to predict how the air cargo industry will perform in 2019 given the ever-changing geopolitical and economic landscape. However, CHAMP believes that irrespective of these external drivers, the air cargo community will continue to search for better means in managing their business through the adoption of new technologies and IT SaaS (software as a service) applications. Modern technology platforms will enable the community to share critical information more seamlessly as well as using data to provide better insights and data-driven decision making. In order to remain competitive, the industry needs to be agile and able to adapt their offerings to suit specific market conditions; the right technology partners help achieve this.

As well as continuing to enrich existing products, CHAMP is broadening its portfolio in several areas, most notably in the areas of data analytics and services that provide better visibility on business performance − and, in 2019, APIs to facilitate the interaction with external applications and IoT devices. Furthermore, the CHAMP Innovation Team is exploring using natural language, IoT real-time monitoring, and augmented reality to build additional value for our customers’ customers.

CHAMP remains a leader in cargo software and forecasts double-digit growth for next year. It will continue to expand its community of customers and to heavily invest in its solutions to further support its clients to satisfy their customers’ needs and to evolve in the digital world. Some of CHAMP’s expansion plans include providing services to the shippers. This will be done by capitalising on CHAMP’s worldwide digital reach through current and new portals, APIs, and regulatory-based community services, and ‘Single Windows’ − services that enable and facilitate global trade opportunities.

We anticipate the key drivers for our industry to remain constant, which include increasing transparency and collaboration among the key stakeholders in our community and further adopting new technologies, which increase efficiencies both from a commercial and operational side. 2019 will continue to be a year of focus for how new technologies can be adopted by our industry and community in further digitising and facilitating trade.

Planning & Control

Because tracking and tracing isn’t enough, argues Cargo iQ’s Ariaen Zimmerman

In general, I’ve always enjoyed working in the air cargo industry. That is, except for those moments a customer would call and say: ‘where is my cargo?’ Every time a customer called to ask ‘where is my cargo?’, my company had failed. Not by having a disruption in a shipment’s movement, but by creating a situation where the customer eventually had to make that phone call. I would never know the answer without further research; and to make things worse, the real question always turned out to be: ‘so what is going to happen next?’

Our industry’s answer to this situation has mostly been the creation of better access to tracking and tracing solutions. Surely these systems have their merits, but they don’t address the real core of the failure. Tracking and tracing merely offer data on the whereabouts of a shipment, and that data is useless without the shipment’s planning. Only when planning is known, will the whereabouts of a shipment offer information on whether that shipment is still on track, or whether corrective action is needed.
A customer should never have the need for tracking and tracing; they should be comfortable to know that their provider will take care of things if an agreed service deviates from planning, and informs them accordingly.

This realization will make customers more demanding on information from their air cargo providers, and every provider, from ground handler to carrier to forwarder, will take more steps towards not just sharing information on where a shipment is, but on implementing proper workflow management to actively monitor shipments and keep their customers and business partners updated.

Control for profitable business
For profitability, air cargo needs optimal utilisation of the ever-fluctuating capacity on its flights, despite continuously changing demand. Cargo flows need to be managed, matched, mixed, bundled, dispersed and ultimately delivered in a reliable fashion. Some customers need direct services on specific flights and specific facilities, while some merely ask for reliable delivery. Some buying decisions are driven by extreme urgency, and some merely by price; most are driven by both. Our industry needs to be able to deal with all of them.
The ability to offer a varied portfolio of products that meet the requirements of high-yield traffic as well as offer low-cost solutions on one single infrastructure and flight network requires product differentiation. For that, relevant differentiators are needed that can reliably be demonstrated to the industry’s internal and external customers.

Beyond ‘track & trace’
Planning and control are key to delivering a diversified, profitable product as well as maximising capacity utilisation. Not all shipments can be ‘must ride’, but in the end all must ride.
Shipment control creates the trust that allows providers to be flexible in their execution and optimise flights and networks. Shipment control reduces costs of failure, increases customer value and, therefore, yield. In many ways, it is a necessity to cater for new traffic flows, such as e-business.

However, shipment control is not the same as offering tracking and tracing. It is taking the need for tracking and tracing away, by being reliable according to the product sold, continuously monitoring the shipments under one’s care and proactively sharing planning and any deviations from it, including a solution.

Piece-level visibility
This year will see the industry’s first concerted offerings for planning and control of the individual pieces of a shipment; full door-to-door transparency on a piece level will become available. While this service will initially be addressing shippers’ needs for transparency, it will be the first step on a road to further operational efficiency and improved capacity utilization.

Ariaen Zimmerman is executive director of Cargo iQ

Specialised products and transparency

The air freight sector is shifting away from just moving boxes, says Nabil Sultan, Emirates’ divisional senior VP of cargo

2018 was a year of steady growth for the air cargo industry globally. Although we did not witness the extremely high growth rates of the previous year, progress was still very positive. At Emirates SkyCargo, 2018 was an exciting year and we moved close to 2.6 million tonnes of cargo around the world.

We continued with our focus on specialised products: Emirates Pharma, our specialised suite of solutions for moving pharmaceutical shipments, has continued to meet with a lot of successes. For example, last year we flew over 73,000 tonnes of pharma cargo. In the last 12 months, we also moved over 400,000 tonnes of fresh vegetables, fruits, and other produce, meat and seafood under the Emirates Fresh product across six continents.

Emirates SkyCargo also introduced new specialised solutions for specific goods − for example, Emirates AOG for the rapid transport of aircraft components, and Emirates Pets. We will continue to focus on specialised products for 2019. Customers want specialised handling and transport solutions for their cargo, and the industry is shifting away from moving boxes. We will ensure that all our products and solutions are closely matched to customer requirements.

Another focus area for the industry has been transparency. Customers want increasing visibility on the shipment process. Helping know exactly when their cargo will be delivered helps customers in planning their activities better, which ultimately adds value to both businesses. ‘Delivered as Promised’ forms part of the core ethos of Emirates SkyCargo and in March 2018 we received Cargo iQ certification − which has transformed the way we proactively interact with our customers on shipment status. Using our 24-7 operational Cargo Operations Control Centre (COCC), we track live shipment progress data against pre-determined milestones and take corrective action in case of deviation or delay.

In 2018, we started freighter services to Maastricht in the Netherlands and also began offering belly hold cargo capacity to Santiago (Chile), Stansted (UK) and Edinburgh (UK). We’ll closely monitor our network and ensure that capacity is deployed where there is demand.

Emirates SkyCargo’s ‘customer first’ approach combined with our continuous investment in infrastructure and resources will help us in retaining our position as one of the leaders of the global air cargo industry in 2019.

Astral prepares for ‘an interesting year for Africa’

We expect 2019 to be a positive year for Africa despite some of the challenges in the global air cargo sector.

With projected growth of 10% in perishables traffic from east Africa to Europe in 2019, Astral will continue to operate four weekly scheduled flights on the B747-400F, wet-leased from Air Atlanta, for perishables bound for the UK and European markets.

The intra-African sector looks promising, with an increase in volume expected in 2019 as more African countries sign up for the biggest economic block in the world, the African Continental Free Trade Area, and the Single African Air Transport Market, which will result in an increase in air connectivity between African member states.
In 2019, Astral will increase its footprint in African by offering new air freight solutions to DR Congo, Zambia and Burundi from its Nairobi hub.

However the impact of the strong US dollar, global fuel prices, and elections in South Africa and Nigeria will make 2019 an interesting year for Africa.

Meanwhile, we are awaiting regulatory approval from Kenya’s CAA for the pilot project for the FlyOx Cargo Drone, with its 2 tonnes of cargo payload. We expect to commence the trials in March 2019 and remain confident that Astral will be the first airline in the world to offer a commercial service with cargo drones

Sanjeev Gadhia, CEO of Astral Aviation

E-commerce will continue transforming logistics in 2019

One key challenge will be an increased need for online security within the supply chain as the use of digital technology grows, says Tigers CEO Andrew Jillings

In 2018, the big issues impacting the international supply chain industry were technological developments and the rise of e-commerce, with companies waking up to the potential of integrating digital technology to assist transparency and introduce tracking processes. We believe this will continue throughout 2019, particularly as e-commerce booms in countries such as China and Malaysia, and the retail sector continues to transform.

At Tigers, we are focused on technology and e-commerce, which is why last November we launched SmartHub:Connect, a cloud-based platform combining freight, e-commerce and logistics, offering global visibility for both B2B and B2C fulfilment. We have invested in this technology to offer our customers a global e-commerce solution and ensure we are leading the way for digitisation in the supply chain.

Last year, we also expanded our global network by opening new facilities in the US, Germany, China, and Malaysia to serve the growing e-commerce market and to meet our increasing customer demand.

Our prediction for 2019 is that supply chain companies will need to embrace new technologies to improve productivity and stay competitive. However, an associated challenge of this development will be an increased need for online security within the supply chain as the use of digital technology grows.

Attracting and retaining new talent to the industry will also be a challenge to keep up with the evolving business landscape and ensure the industry progresses in line with technological advancements and consumer habits.

Andrew Jillings is CEO of Tigers, a specialist in e-commerce fulfilment and supply chain solutions

Evolving requirements for handling temperature-controlled goods

This year will see a continuation of the strong growth we have seen in temperature-controlled goods transported via air freight. Global demand is increasing thanks to a rising population and people living longer, meaning more perishables and pharmaceuticals are needed for transport every year.

The requirements for handling temperature-controlled goods are evolving as we strive as an industry to make improvements to the cool chain and ensure that the cargo arrives safely and securely to its destination.

However, with growth comes challenges, and temperature-controlled logistics is no exception. Despite our best efforts, millions of tonnes of food are wasted or lost every year, and thousands of children are dying due to infrastructure shortage, resulting in medicine not reaching the people in need.

In the perishables market, it is estimated up to a third of all food transported is wasted, which is an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes a year. More visibility is needed in order to reduce the amount of waste and loss, so that products such as fresh produce can be tracked along the entire chain, from harvesting all the way to its final destination.

It is important that we develop standards in the transport of perishables like fresh food similar to those the cool chain already employs in pharmaceuticals, such as the MAWB temp range and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) label.

Likewise, in the pharma industry, cool chain partners must come out of their data silos to ensure the best service in a rapidly evolving pharma landscape, where patients expect tailored products to be delivered to their door, or even administered by a nurse.

I believe every player in the cool chain has a responsibility to help address these issues and an opportunity to increase our service excellence. The Cool Chain Association is eager to play its part in bringing industry stakeholders together to discuss solutions, support research, and facilitate better collaboration. We must work hand-in-hand with the pharmaceuticals and perishables industries in order to improve product integrity and patient health and safety and that means sharing information and learning to collaborate.

At our Pharma conference in Paris in September, we will be focusing on that last mile and looking at solutions from drones to how to support the organisations tackling that challenge, such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Later in the year, our Perishables conference will be looking to further our campaign to reduce food loss.

Stavros Evangelakakis, chairman of the Cool Chain Association

Great expectations from the UAV market in 2019

In today’s e-commerce world, everything is just one click away. Now more than ever, customers will expect faster, free-of-charge delivery of their goods worldwide.

Trade tensions internationally will continue to mount. As a result, air freight growth will slow. Overall, however, 2019 will see more cargo flown than 2018.

More countries or governments worldwide will be open to trialling and potentially adopting UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology. UAVs represent a promising path for reducing costs, increasing infrastructure utilization, and improving economies in remote or rural locations.

The collaboration between UAV developers and manufacturers, regulators, airlines, and logistic companies will strengthen.

The upcoming UAV regulation in the EU will formalize the shift from a weight-based approach to a risk- and performance-based one with a focus on reliability.

We anticipate a lot of progress being made on the regulatory front in 2019, and this is the part we are looking forward to the most. With the EU and others formalizing their rules and serving as guides to the rest of the world, we anticipate 2019 will greatly accelerate the UAV industry in clarifying both technical requirements and paths to adoption and integration into the airspace. We couldn’t be more excited about that.
Svilen Rangelov, co-founder and CEO of cargo drone developer Dronamics

Maximum Capacity

Antonov marks 30 years operating outsize freighters commercially

Last year exceeded our expectations both in terms of revenue and efficiency of the fleet’s utilisation. This forthcoming year is going to be special for us: it was in 1989 that our aircraft became the first to operate commercially in what was a new segment of the air cargo market. Thirty years of continuous service is a milestone we are proud to reach.

Whilst the number of aircraft in our fleet remains static, a key target will be further improving the utilisation of the fleet across all of our commitments and further reducing the amount of ‘empty’ flying. This will release further charter capacity to our clients.

Towards the end of last year, we gathered some vital input from many of our customers, to gather their feedback on how we could further enhance our services to meet the shifting demands of the marketplace.

As with every year, new or extended regulations, in particular with congested airspace, mean we have to work hard to stay ahead of the game with the fleets’ compliance. We expect airports and regions in the EU and Middle East to tighten their procedures during 2019 and we will be ready.

In March, we look forward to the return to service of the AN-225 and plan to exceed 2018’s record year of commercial flying for our customers.

We will be participating in a number of events across the globe this year, to ensure we are in touch with all the market verticals, as we see great potential in each.

Graham Witton is managing director of Antonov Airlines