A new normal? The next phase

posted on 15th September 2020
A new normal? The next phase

The air freight sector has undergone massive upheaval this year. CAAS examines whether the business has permanently changed.

The air freight sector has obviously undergone massive upheaval this year, including enormous disruption to capacity supply and demand patterns, tremendous pricing volatility, as well as huge operational challenges such as demand spikes and staffing supply and safety issues – not to mention a
catastrophic financial impact on many companies.

Although some of these factors appear to have begun to stabilise in parts of the world following the initial wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns imposed to help limit its spread, adjusting to the vast numbers of rapidly moving short-term changes has required extraordinary flexibility, creativity and hard work by organisations and their leadership and staff, in many cases involving evolving responsibilities, new ways of working and even different business models. And in many cases, it has required significant financial restructuring programmes.

The scale of the disruption caused by the pandemic worldwide, alongside other recent geopolitical trends, leaves major questions about short- and mid-term economic growth, as well as mid- and long-term questions about the future of globalisation and global outsourcing. Some of this will be examined later in this issue.

In the previous issue of this magazine, we published more than 25 interviews with airlines, cargo handlers and airports, plus various industry associations and representatives, outlining the initial impact and their initial responses to the early phases of the coronavirus pandemic. Building upon that, in this autumn issue, we are examining the next phase, including asking selected industry specialists in this report whether a ‘new normal’ or ‘pre-new normal’ is emerging for the air freight sector and its constituent organisations; what that may look like, and how it may evolve – or whether we need to think in terms of several new normals.

The following report highlights some of their views and analyses, shedding light on different aspects and areas of air freight operations and businesses…