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in Air Transport / Features

Geo-commerce, technology and the future of cargo aviation

Posted 1 November 2018 · Add Comment

In a thought-provoking personal opinion article, Wolfgang Meier, president, Silkway West Airlines, says the outlook for global cargo aviation demand remains strong. However, there are other factors at play.

Our industry is watching several key variables, which may have major implications for the near future.
These include an escalating tariff battle between the US and China affecting shipping patterns or, indeed, disruptive technologies integrating into daily practice, such as artificial intelligence (AI) predictive maintenance, which is being embraced and deployed in the Middle East.
The forecast for the industry has never seen such constant shift and yet perpetual growth.
Cargo aviation is directly intertwined with geo-commerce and the ebbs and flows that go along with that. For example, while Arabian Aerospace readers may recognise the escalating trade battle between the US and China from afar, I, similarly, can discuss Africa moving towards a single air market, more commonly referred to as an open skies framework. This is understood as the continent’s liberalisation from antiquated commercial aviation regulation to create a free-market environment.
Partnerships reshaping globalisation within the Middle East are also taking place, despite rising protectionisms. Elsewhere, and perhaps conversely, an Indian express industry body has favoured a re-evaluation of policy so as to allow domestic cargo airlines to offer operations in foreign countries.
These variables shift minutely or seismically. However, intrepid businessmen and women foresee these trends ahead of squall or splendour and plan accordingly.
Globalisation can and should mean greater liberalisation and competition within an interconnected marketplace. Silkway predicts terrific and continued growth in this environment, with carried on benefits to our clients and colleagues around the world.
However, such predications would not be possible to speak of with confidence unless we, ourselves, also continue to adhere to the tenets of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and embrace technology within our corporate DNA, celebrating its role in enhancing cargo aviation service to meet rising demand.
Last year was noted as being one of the safest, most efficient years in the history of both cargo and commercial air transit on a global scale. While demand increases, technology allows us to match it with efficacy and continue this steady ascendance in development and security.
As recently noted in Forbes Magazine, we’ve introduced next-generation CHAMP cargo management technology and logistics support within our day-to-day operations, helping our global team optimise and reduce costs and time, which is of particular assistance during multi-leg operations.
CHAMP’s ‘cargospot handling’ as an example, is a comprehensive operations and terminal management system solution we deploy; one that’s efficient for ground-handlers and terminal operators alike to utilise.
We must always keep a close eye on the boons in technological achievement to ensure our service to clients is not merely one of continuance, but one dedicated to perpetual enhancement and return on investment.
Technology also plays a great role in our humanitarian efforts, such as those we carry out alongside the US military. Over the course of this year, the Global Humanitarian Overview predicts that more than 135 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection and, in the face of any crisis, our response efforts must be effective.
We have proudly held long-standing contractor status with the US military, due to our deep understanding, willingness and preparedness to advance in perhaps challenging regions.
We look forward to continuing to excel in the all-encompassing aspects of the cargo aviation supply chain and maintaining a professionalism in service not so unlike our partners within the United States military.
Now, geopolitics and technology will, no doubt, each play a factor within both developing and would-be ‘developed’ economies, and the opportunities and challenges therein will always require focus and often diplomacy to ensure lasting growth. This said, it is our dedication, alongside our partners’ trust in our service, that has allowed us to work side-by-side with our clients around the world.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecast a rise in cargo carried to 62.5 million tonnes in 2018 (up by 4.5% from the 59.9 million tonnes in 2017). We, accordingly, foresee expanded service (proudly re-launching transit operations, most recently to Budapest) and continued development of our partnership network globally, to the benefit of our clients.
We believe it is in our hands to create lasting change.

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