Collaboration is Key to Successful Air Cargo Logistics
The Air Cargo Deep Dive session of TLME’s Future of Logistics conference moderated by Lars Jensen focused on insights from government, air cargo and logistics companies along with pharmaceutical manufacturers on how adaption and collaboration will keep air cargo flowing smoothly well into the future.
The participants of the session were:
Qutaiba Al Manaseer, Government Affairs Director Middle East & Africa, AstraZeneca
Joe Beydoun, TLME Chairman, speaking on-behalf of Fast Logistics
Fabio Weiss, VP - Head of Air Freight MEA at DHL Global Forwarding
Madhav Kurup, Regional CEO (MESA Region) – Hellmann Worldwide Logistics
Arne Roehrig, Head of Projects & Systems - DIMOS
Fabrice Panza - Manager Global Cool Chain Solutions - Etihad Cargo
Mr Jensen began the session by asking the panellists what advice they would give to players in the air freight industry particularly in terms of what is the one thing they should do and the one thing they should stop doing learning from the experience of the last 18 months?
AstraZeneca's Qutaiba Al Manaseer said that one of the key learnings from the pandemic was the need for greater collaboration in the supply chain.
Two years ago AstraZeneca was not even a vaccine manufacturer and thanks to their collaboration with Oxford University they have manufactured over 2 billion vaccine doses today, and counting.
"So with collaboration you can really accelerate innovation," said Qutaiba. Then speaking about what not to do, he said the industry should "not work in silos" and bring about a change in mindset that would turn challenges into opportunities.
Giving the example of his own company Qutaiba said that AstraZeneca decided to manufacture the vaccine on a not-for-profit basis as the company thought the biggest return from producing the vaccines was to end the pandemic itself and "contribute in the public health fight."
Responding to the questions, Fabrice Panza started with a famous quote by Winston Churchill: "Never let a good crisis go to waste".
This, Mr Panza said, really illustrated what happened over the last 18 months when the passenger side of operations completely tanked but a positive outcome was on the cargo side, which really took off thanks to the worldwide requirement of PPEs and pharmaceuticals.
Airlines thought out-of-the-box to come up with creative and innovative methods to meet the huge surge in demand.
The second key learning, said Mr Panza, was the importance of community and cooperation despite the competition that has existed between different players in the industry. The UAE provided the world with an outstanding model for domestic and global cooperation with the formation of the Hope Consortium that has seen remarkable outcomes by providing a coordinated response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Mr Panza concluded his reply by saying that in order to connect the global air cargo and logistics community there is a need for all the different stakeholders of the industry to speak a “common language” to manage expectations and achieve well-defined positive outcomes.
Fabio Weiss said that with the current surge in demand for global air freight with many shippers converting from ocean to air freight, “capacity is king” and Mr Weiss advised end users and customers to "plan their supply chains well with reliable partners” and “to be cost sensitive but at the right time."
Arne Roehrig felt it was the right time to use the pandemic to improve and innovate cargo systems. "The cargo industry, from the equipment point of view, has not changed much in the last 40 years," he said and it's time to upgrade cargo systems, processes and equipment to make them more flexible in order to better adapt to rapid changes in the supply chain.
“The industry is ready to jump quite a bit ahead and do much more than what have seen so far,” said Mr Roehrig.
Agreeing with Mr Roehrig, Joe Beydoun speaking on behalf of Fast Logistics said that the one thing that the air cargo industry indeed needs to do is become more flexible, in terms of pricing, capacity and innovation.
And as for what it should stop doing, Joe said they should stop taking business for granted as there is great competition out there today and the customer has many options including chartered aircrafts.
“I would love to see the flexibility shown during the pandemic to continue into the future as well,” said Mr Beydoun.
Madhav Kurup of Hellmann also agreed that that cooperation was critical but added that another thing that was required in today's air cargo supply chain was "competency enhancement" of the people involved in it.
Referring to the processes of the pharmaceutical cold chain Mr Kurup said that as of today "they are not very well designed" and across airports worldwide, people, from warehouse handlers to customs officials, are not trained enough to manage pharma cold chain products in the right manner and there is a huge scope for competency improvement and awareness training.
According to Madhav, another critical requirement that the pandemic has revealed is the lack of ownership at various stages of the supply chain. “To Ensure Smooth Flow of Cargo More Ownership is Required at Every Stage of the Supply Chain,” said Mr Kurup.