Summer 2022

issue 38

It’s been another challenging few months for air freight, as the sector navigates an uneven and unpredictable recovery from the pandemic around the world – amid rapidly rising fuel and other costs and an uncertain economic outlook. High on the lists of challenges currently is staff recruitment and retention, particularly at a ‘blue-collar’ level. What was already a competitive field has become a major headache in many markets. And the progressive exit from pandemic lockdowns and the corresponding recovery in air passenger demand and capacity has brought further complications – and in some cases staff shortfalls have limited growth opportunities and impacted operational quality.

Companies are having to be creative and intelligent in attracting and retaining employees whose employment expectations in many cases have changed, as several articles within this issue of the magazine highlight – such as the interview with Dnata CEO Steve Allen (page 28). That includes making companies forward-facing, good employers that are investing in innovation, technology, sustainability, people and infrastructure.

It’s a challenge for most air freight stakeholders, including suppliers and customers – as is access to and rising costs of materials throughout supply chains, including the ULDs that air freight relies on, highlights Unilode’s Ross Marino (page 14). Meanwhile, the digitalisation of ULDs continues, as does the development of the use cases for the data that this provides, and the resulting potential opportunities to further streamline air freight operations.
And as larger cargo drones get closer to commercial launch (page 46), so the potential use cases for those evolve – increasingly towards middle-mile logistics and the supply of remote or island communities.

Strong demand for freighter capacity continues (page 20), heightened by the continuing shortfall of passenger belly capacity and now also the loss of Russian-owned capacity from western markets triggered by Russia’s brutal military invasion of Ukraine. Although capacity is set to stay tight this year, some fear that bulging orderbooks for P2F conversions and production widebody models could lead to oversupply in the mid-term.

But in the meantime, cargo facility investments are surging at hub and second-tier airports in some markets such as North America (page 38) in response to congestion issues, rising freighter activities, and the need for modernisation. But it partly also reflects the strength and stability of air cargo’s performance compared to passenger air services in the last two years, which has made it a relatively safe bet for investors.

Two years of extreme volatility have been tough for everyone. But it has also left cargo-oriented airlines – and others – with a greater appreciation of strong, stable and professional cargo handling partners that are willing and able to invest in their facilities, systems, standards and people.

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Featured in this issue

  • Boom time continues for freighter markets

    Boeing and Airbus are seeing bulging order books for P2F conversions and production widebody models, as sky-high demand for all-cargo aircraft continues. But while capacity is set to remain tight this...

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  • Cargo drones get heavy

    Despite continuing regulatory and technical challenges, developers have continued to make good progress towards the launch of UAVs able to carry higher cargo payloads, as the interest from operators a...

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  • Collaborative progress is here to stay

    Megan Ramsay reports on how pharma air logistics operators and their customers are building on gains made during the Covid pandemic – including sustaining the increased cooperation achieved during t...

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  • Cutting Chicago’s cargo congestion

    Alliance Ground International claims it has reversed stifling cargo congestion at Chicago O’Hare with major investment in technology and a new 253,000 sq. ft off-airport import centre. The developme...

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  • Energised air logistics environment

    Andy Faes, regional manager healthcare vertical Europe at US-based Expeditors, says that during the pandemic, the logistics company invested further in temperature-controlled facilities, training and ...

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  • Handling Heathrow’s cargo challenge

    Although Heathrow airport’s notorious Shoreham Road ‘horseshoe’ cargo area remains a congestion hotspot, in April Dnata inaugurated the next phase of its ‘Dnata City East’ complex at LHR, w...

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  • Lasting value from new logistics lanes

    The equitable distribution of Covid vaccines made headlines during the pandemic, and the air freight community had a vital role to play. UPS Healthcare has worked with organisations such as Gavi and ...

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  • North America: Airport cargo investments surge

    In a hot development market, air freight facility construction or expansion projects are moving forward apace at hub and second-tier airports across the US and Canada in response to congestion issues,...

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  • Seeking standardised stable solutions

    Two years of extreme volatility in air freight markets have left airlines with a greater appreciation of strong, stable and professional cargo handling partners that can deliver reliable services in a...

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  • Small shipment drone developments continue

    Companies that have been testing or performing small drone deliveries for several years include Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) – distributing small shipments to and from remote areas in Canada – and ...

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  • Staying ahead of the curve

    Alongside continuing to develop Unilode’s leading position in ULD fleet digitalisation and tracking, the most urgent priority for the ULD pooling specialist is simply ‘to be ahead of the curve in ...

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  • Swissport expands facilities in Vienna and Amsterdam

    New 8,000 sqm centre more than doubles the group’s cargo handling capacity at VIE, while a new second-line terminal at AMS aims to relieve the handler’s on-airport warehouses, reports Will Waters ...

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