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Pierre Van Der Stichele VP Global Cargo, Air Partner

Air cargo trends for 2024

Pierre Van Der Stichele, VP of Global Cargo at Air Partner, shares his expert insights on the outlook for the year ahead.

What 2-3 trends are you forecasting for the sector in 2024?

PVDS: I expect to see the general cargo industry grow in 2024, albeit marginally at around 4-5%. There are many factors we are observing that may impede the industry’s growth such as increased geopolitical tensions, as well as a slow recovery in the global economy. The overcapacity issues we saw emerge post-pandemic are expected to persist, forcing players in the industry to search for a harmonious balance between supply and demand while mitigating an imbalance of costs between the supplier and the customer. Finally, with the ongoing humanitarian crises, there is potential for increased demand for long-term humanitarian projects that require chartering aircraft to help deliver aid solutions.

Is there any new tech you’re seeing that could be a larger trend for the cargo industry?
PVDS: As with most industries, Artificial Intelligence is a growing tool that will certainly play a large role in the cargo sector. There are many uses for AI within the industry such as forecasting and predicting failed delivery issues. It will be interesting to see how we can utilise this technology to improve our operations as it becomes more sophisticated.

Which sectors will be a primary focus for Air Partner Global Cargo in 2024? 
PVDS: Our focus for 2024 very much remains on the Time Critical sector. Our line of work prioritises delivering cargo as swiftly as possible due to the extreme time sensitive nature of our clients’ requests. We are currently developing the rapid growth of our Time Critical team, as well as expanding our On-Board Carrier (OBC) team to deliver the best solutions for our clients’ most urgent cargo needs. In addition, it won’t come as a surprise that the humanitarian sector will also be a key focus for Air Partner Global Cargo this year. The impact of climate change, geopolitical tensions and conflict, and continued health crises have all driven demand for humanitarian aid that require best in class air cargo solutions. We are committed to working with our clients to deliver large-scale aid and relief transportation solutions and help those in need.

What percentage of cargo clients are new customers?
PVDS: 2023 was a positive year for our cargo vertical at Air Partner and we are excited to build on the success in 2024. We accelerated growth in the Time Critical sector with a fifth of clients in 2023 being new customers, compared to 2022. We welcomed new clients in the humanitarian services sector, accounting for 5% of overall clients in that segment. Our general cargo business also enjoyed steady growth as 8% of total customers partnered with the team for the first time in 2023.

What are the most critical areas of concern during this time for businesses requiring cargo solutions? And has there been a change in requests or requirements from existing customers?
PVDS: First and foremost, our clients are looking for superior air cargo solutions that provide accuracy when delivering a charter flight. They also want to feel valued and engage with an operator that has a human, personalised touch in its customer services, something Air Partner prides itself on. With cargo being such a competitive market, customers are constantly searching for organisations that will deliver value added service solutions, which Air Partner successfully provides for all customers. In general, the requests and requirements from client are expected to remain consistent with previous years. However, how these requests are delivered may vary. For example, in 2023 the number of air cargo requests reduced slightly but were instead delivered by an alternative mode of transport such as road or sea freight. We also noticed an increase in demand for personalised hand-carry services as offered through our On Board Carrier (OBC) service.

What are some of the challenges and areas of concerns for businesses in the cargo industry during this time and into 2024?
PVDS: While the air cargo industry is very resilient there are some areas of concerns that operators and companies will have to pay attention to over the next year or so. The first being increases in embargoes and trade sanctions. This is a challenge we are constantly aware of, however with heightened geopolitical tensions, this is more prominent than ever. Similarly, international conflicts such as what is happening in the Middle East at present and Ukraine, and the potential risk of those conflicts expanding into other areas will present a challenge for the industry.

Founded in 1961, Air Partner Group is an international aviation services group providing aircraft charter, aviation safety and security solutions, and managed services to industry, commerce, governments, and private individuals, as well as civil and military organisations. More information is available on the company's website here


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