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Towards a brighter future for air cargo

Speaking to Freight Industry Times ahead of its Executive Summit in November, TIACA Director General Glyn Hughes explores the significant trends, challenges, and initiatives shaping the air cargo industry.

FIT: Glyn Hughes, you’ve been leading TIACA since February 2021, bringing a wealth of experience from your role as the Head of Cargo at IATA Global. Can you tell us about your journey so far and your aspirations for the air cargo industry?

GH: Absolutely, it’s been an incredible journey so far. My time at IATA Global gave me invaluable insights into the intricate workings of the air cargo sector, and I’ve carried those lessons with me to TIACA. My vision for the industry is one of unity, innovation, and sustainability. I believe in fostering an environment where modern technologies and practices can thrive, serving both trade and social development worldwide. Our goal at TIACA is to ensure that the air cargo industry remains safe, profitable, and forward-looking.

FIT: As you look ahead, what major trends or developments do you see shaping the air cargo industry in the next five years, and how is TIACA preparing to address them?

GH: The air cargo industry is in a state of dynamic transformation, and at TIACA, we’re acutely aware of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. One of the most pressing challenges is the uncertain nature of future obstacles. The global business landscape is ever-evolving, and any changes in consumer behaviour or economic trends have a profound impact on air cargo.

In terms of developments, digitalisation is a key driver. The integration of AI tools and digital innovations is poised to revolutionise customer services, enhance compliance, and drive overall efficiency. Additionally, the expansion of drone technology presents exciting possibilities, opening new market segments and redefining the way we deliver goods.

Sustainability is another pivotal trend. With a continued focus on environmental and social responsibility, the industry must evolve to meet these expectations. At TIACA, we’re dedicated to fostering innovation and showcasing new ideas. Our commitment to sustainability, demonstrated through our BlueSky program, is unwavering. We’re also excited to introduce new services that align with our sustainability portfolio later this year.

FIT: Collaboration seems to be a central theme for TIACA. How are you collaborating with airlines, regulators, and other stakeholders to enhance operational efficiency and sustainability within the industry?

GH: Collaboration is indeed the cornerstone of our efforts at TIACA. As the global association dedicated solely to air cargo, we play a unique role in bringing diverse stakeholders together. We’ve been actively engaging with influential organisations such as ICAO, ACI, ASA, GEA, FIATA, and IATA to foster a united front in addressing global challenges.

Our regional events have been instrumental in forging stronger relationships with regional bodies and gaining deeper insights into localised issues. Our BlueSky program assesses companies against key criteria, driving responsible practices and enhancing credibility. Through these collaborative efforts, we’re creating a more efficient and sustainable industry.

FIT: With the rise of e-commerce and last-mile delivery, how is TIACA facilitating the integration of new technologies and innovative solutions in the logistics chain?

GH: While TIACA isn’t a standard-setting body, our role is to spotlight innovation, guide industry expectations, and connect stakeholders. The e-commerce sector demands advanced collaboration and integration, and we’re keenly aware of its significance. Many of our members are pioneering innovative solutions, and we’re committed to sharing their successes, contributing to the industry’s growth and evolution.

FIT: What are the primary challenges faced by air cargo carriers today, and what strategies is TIACA employing to overcome these obstacles?

GH: Balancing supply and demand remains a significant challenge for air cargo carriers. The resurgence of passenger networks has led to the reallocation of cargo capacity, resulting in declining yields. During these uncertain times, data and intelligence are essential for informed decision-making.
Through quarterly economic webinars and partnerships with market analytics experts like Xeneta, World ACD, Seabury, and Rotate, TIACA provides carriers with valuable insights to steer their strategies effectively. Our goal is to empower carriers to navigate these challenges and make informed decisions that drive success.

FIT: In the face of global disruptions like pandemics or natural disasters, how is TIACA working to enhance resilience and ensure the continuous flow of goods through airfreight services?

GH: The unprecedented challenges of recent times have underscored the need for resilience and adaptability. Lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis have informed our strategies. TIACA is working closely with stakeholders to ensure that the role of air cargo is fully recognised, both in regulatory changes and in humanitarian relief efforts. Our collaboration with ICAO and other interested groups aims to promote a flexible economic regime that supports air cargo services. Additionally, our events serve as platforms to highlight the industry’s crucial role in humanitarian relief, further demonstrating our commitment to making a positive impact on a global scale.

As I reflect on my journey with TIACA and the dynamic landscape of the air cargo industry, I’m filled with a sense of purpose and optimism. Together with TIACA and our dedicated network of stakeholders, we’re actively shaping the future of air cargo. We’re building an industry that embraces innovation, fosters collaboration, and leads the way in sustainability. The challenges are significant, but the opportunities are even greater. The path ahead is exciting, and I’m honoured to be part of the journey to a brighter and more interconnected future for air cargo.

TIACA is an international not-for-profit association representing and uniting all parts of the air cargo industry including shippers, forwarders, ground handlers, airports, airlines, manufacturers and IT providers. For more information, please visit: www.tiaca.org

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