In a world increasingly reliant on digitalization, the air cargo industry is at the forefront of a transformative journey. The role of digital service providers in streamlining and optimizing the global supply chain is paramount. No longer a collection of isolated endeavors, the airfreight sector is undergoing a fundamental shift towards a digitally empowered future.
Historically slow to embrace digital documentation, the air cargo sector has made significant strides towards innovation. Industry leaders are committed to establishing cutting-edge digital supply chains that promote operational excellence, setting them apart from competitors. Judah Levine, Head of Research at Freightos, notes that the shift to digital sales was already underway when the pandemic struck. By the end of 2019, carriers representing 10% of total industry capacity offered bookings on third-party online platforms like WebCargo by Freightos.
However, embracing this futuristic vision comes with its own set of challenges. The industry faces the daily task of maintaining data accuracy in a rapidly changing landscape. This necessitates robust data integration systems and quality checks. Market volatility, fueled by factors such as fuel prices and geopolitical events, demands dynamic pricing algorithms for real-time rate adjustments. Addressing carbon emissions and regulations is another industry-wide challenge, which has prompted the development of compliance tools like CO2 calculators.
Streamlining the supply chain is essential, especially given the strain imposed by unforeseen events like the Covid-19 pandemic and the rapid growth of international eCommerce. Digital service providers are instrumental in addressing these challenges. For example, IAG Cargo is leveraging technology through robotics and the adoption of electronic Airway Bills (e-AWB) to enhance efficiency, reduce human errors, and improve environmental impact.
The future of air cargo is undeniably digital, with significant investments in technology poised to drive growth. Technological advances promise more efficient, cost-effective operations, facilitated by enhanced connectivity, visibility, and the use of artificial intelligence. The digitization of underlying data is central to this transformation, aiming to make the air cargo industry even more reliable and responsive to the ever-evolving global supply chain.