Age of the dinosaurs? SASI explains how air cargo can future-proof business

From left to right, Stan Wraight, Lilian Tran Keller and Charles Edwards of SASI.

PARIS – While the collapse of Thomas Cook this week is more in the realm of passenger rather than cargo news, the immediate wake of the event serves as a critical warning to the cargo industry. How can we future-proof our business, especially in the face of burgeoning e-commerce demand and consumer expectations?

At the Air Cargo Handling and Logistics Conference in Paris (CDG) today, Strategic Aviation Solutions International (SASI) hosted a workshop led by SASI President Stan Wraight, VP Lilian Tan Keller and Associate Charles Edwards. For the workshop, the three speakers referred to their company’s Air Cargo Professional Advancement program to explain how stakeholders in aviation cargo can determine how to future-proof their business in an evolving market environment.

Currently, air cargo demands innovation, quality service, seamless and responsive process flows, robust financial performance, transparency of real-time services and attracting and equipping talent. To meet these needs, the speakers broke down the key points to crafting a future-proofing strategy for business, which include:

  • What are the changes in worldwide supply chains?
  • How are we creating value by responding to demand?
  • Forming partnerships, not vendor-ships
  • Skill sets for the new era

Further discussion on these facets saw the identification of data-sharing, stakeholder communication and talent as the main tools necessary to achieving sustainable strategies. However, successfully leveraging these tools requires a change of mindset on behalf of the broader air cargo industry.

“It’s not so much information, but how you use information” to support these needs, said SASI Associate Charles Edwards.

The marine cargo industry, like air cargo, has identified these needs. However, it is ahead of air cargo because it has already moved to bring together stakeholders at the table, share data and discuss how to meet customer needs effectively, which stakeholders then execute.

One of the main issues holding back air cargo is a lack of trust, said SASI VP Lillian Tan. Stakeholders do not want to bear the cost while potentially losing business by sharing data. However, it is critical to understand that the potential risk can bring greater benefits in the long-term. Failure to evolve may also result in companies becoming obsolete in comparison to other players, like Amazon, JD.com and Alibaba, that are already working with all stakeholders in their supply chain to share information in order to effectively and successfully meet consumer demand.

The second challenge to air cargo moving forward is the broader industry mindset of doing things the same way, which must change. This relies largely on leadership implementing changes to strategy, as well as leading by example to create a culture of quality service.

The new reality of air cargo demands this, explained SASI VP Lilian Tan. “If we continue in the old-fashioned way, we will be like the dinosaurs and die out,” she said.

Ultimately, the air cargo industry is well-aware of these shortcomings. What it needs to do now is make the leap in order to prepare for future needs in a changing world of air cargo.

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Chelsea Toczauer

Chelsea Toczauer is the Associate Editor of the company’s daily news and monthly magazine Air Cargo World. She holds two BAs in International Relations and Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as a double accredited US-Chinese MA in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University joint degree program. Chelsea speaks Mandarin and Russian.