|Key to Air Cargo Resilience Post Pandemic: Industry Cooperation, Safety, Sustainability and Modernization|
|The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the air cargo industry to continue working together at the same pace, with the same levels of cooperation as during the COVID-19 pandemic to overcome future challenges and build industry resilience. Sustainability, modernization, and safety were highlighted as key priorities for the industry post pandemic. The call was made at the 14th World Cargo Symposium (WCS), which opened in Dublin today.
“Air cargo is a critically important industry. This pandemic reminded us of that. During the crisis, it has been a lifeline for society, delivering critical medical supplies and vaccines across the globe and keeping international supply chains open. And for many airlines, cargo became a vital source of revenue when passenger flights were grounded. In 2020, the air cargo industry generated $129 billion, which represented approximately a third of airlines’ overall revenues, an increase of 10–15% compared to pre-crisis levels. Looking towards the future, the outlook is strong. We need to maintain the momentum established during the crisis and continue building resilience post pandemic,” said Brendan Sullivan, IATA’s Global Head of Cargo.
Outlook for Air Cargo
This year cargo demand is expected to exceed pre-crisis (2019) levels by 8% and revenues are expected to rise to a record $175 billion, with yields expected to grow by 15%. In 2022 demand is expected to exceed pre-crisis (2019) levels by 13% with revenues expected to rise to $169 billion although there will be an 8% decline in yields.
“The surge in demand for air cargo and attractive yields are not without complications. Pandemic restrictions have led to severe global supply-chain congestion and created hardships for aircrew crossing international borders. Resourcing and capacity, handling and facility space and logistics will be an issue. This will create further operational challenges for our industry that must be planned for now. But we have demonstrated resilience throughout the crisis and with that same focus we will overcome these challenges,” said Sullivan.
At IATA’s Annual General Meeting last week, airlines committed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This commitment will align with the Paris Agreement goal for global warming not to exceed 1.5°C. The strategy is to abate as much CO2 as possible from in-sector solutions such as sustainable aviation fuels, new aircraft technology, more efficient operations and infrastructure, and the development of new zero-emissions energy sources such as electric and hydrogen power. Any emissions that cannot be eliminated at source will be eliminated through out-of-sector options such as carbon capture and storage and credible offsetting schemes.
IATA highlighted three major projects moving the industry towards digitalization and the progress being made in each:
“E-air waybill, ONE Record and Cargo XML are big industry projects. And they are moving us in the right direction. So that is good. But we need to continue working at the same pace as we did during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Sullivan.
“Demand for lithium batteries continues to rise as does the risk from lithium battery related fires. Our main concern has been around accidents from rogue shippers who – miss-declare shipments. But the incident on the ramp at Hong Kong International Airport earlier this year reminded us just how big the challenge is. The investigation indicated that loading and handling was as per regulation and the consignment was declared correctly,” said Sullivan.
IATA called for:
As of today, 154 countries have ratified the agreement – 94% of WTO membership. Governments yet to ratify the TFA are urged to do so, and signatory countries should implement it as soon as possible. The cost of inaction is high. Full implementation could boost global trade by $1 trillion per year, reducing global trade costs by an average of 14%.