Turkish cargo has risen to become a significant cargo mover worldwide. Now, with 5% of the market handled by Turkish Cargo and the introduction of new and exciting technology to its operations, the carrier is solidifying its position. Due to the slump in cargo capacity, the market shrank by 18% between January and May. However, Turkish Cargo did not see any loss of tonnage on a year-on-year basis, and acted as a global bridge, preventing the interruption of the international supply chain. Turhan Ozen, Chief Cargo Officer, Turkish Airlines speaks to Upamanyu Borah, on how they stepped in to fill the gap while hoping to maintain their share of the global air freight market.
What is the outlook for air cargo volumes worldwide for the rest of 2020 and 2021?
In parallel with the vaccine to be developed against the pandemic, the aviation industry will enter into the course of a further return to normal and recovery. However, belly capacity limitations may exist until 2021 based on the decline of passenger flights resulting due to restrictions.
Turkish Cargo has been adapting its activities to the new market dynamics, and our network and fleet is expected to continue to grow for an enhanced overall service and the wide network coverage we offer to our customers.
In September, we had added London (LHR), Bangkok (BKK), Singapore (SIN), Beirut (BEY) destinations to our flight network. Bucharest (OTP) and Lahore (LHE) destinations were added to the flight network within the scope of the winter schedule. Accordingly, Turkish Cargo’s total direct cargo network reached 95 destinations.
Turkish Cargo’s aim to become one of the top 5 global air cargo brands, which we were determined on achieving in the pre-COVID period, is still relevant, and we continue to carry out our activities towards this target at full steam despite the conditions that arise daily.
What was the average load factor seen in the first half of 2020? Do you already see the load factor improving in the months ahead?
During the first half of the year, cargo capacity experienced significant losses due to the uncertainty resulting from the pandemic as well as lockdown restrictions.
Despite challenges arising due to volatile market conditions, Turkish Cargo increased its global market share to 5 per cent and carried 1 of each 20 air shipments transported worldwide.
In addition to supporting global trade, we are maintaining the sense of responsibility we assumed by transporting healthcare and critical aid materials such as masks, pharmaceutical products, medical devices and equipment to the whole world in the course of the pandemic outbreak.
We operated more than 1100 flights in August alone, utilising our passenger airlines as well as freighters while having performed additional cargo operations to more than 50 destinations, in particular London, Moscow, Oslo, Shanghai, Bangkok, Doha, New York and Casablanca, using passenger airlines.
How is Turkish Airlines/Cargo setting the bar higher towards offering reliability and quality assurance in handling all types of cargo efficiently? Kindly elaborate on the global best practices that the carrier has adopted in overall air logistics operations.
We are building up a global air bridge by means of cargo operations being performed all around the world via Turkish Cargo’s facilities located at Istanbul and Ataturk airports as a dual-hub network.
Turkish Cargo is committed to raise service quality in a sustainable manner by acting in conjunction with its ‘Raise the Bar’ mission. We create value by maintaining a work method based on dialogue with due regard and ensuring mutual trust and open communication as we continue to raise the bar for achievement each passing day by building great work relationships.
We serve as a good business partner encouraging new ways of technology-driven developments along with the work processes we have been carrying out without damaging the ecosystem. We continue to perform sustainable innovative activities for the purpose of obtaining new and different results, and also to make substantial investments in those fields.
Turkish Cargo is closely monitoring technological developments and is prepared for moving to its new facility designed autonomously, where operations will commence in 2021. The SmartIST facility, located at Istanbul Airport with an area of 340,000 sq mts is set to be one of the global largest terminals under a single roof. It will be equipped with automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS or AS/RS) and pallet container handling system (PCHS), and will accommodate special cargo services– Perishable (PER), Live Animal (AVI), and Express (e-commerce).
What innovative strategies have you adopted in the procedures of shipment for special cargo like pharmaceuticals or perishables?
We achieved 67 per cent growth during the first half of 2020 by means of special cargo operations we have been maintaining by creating a global air bridge.
We resumed being a notable logistics solution partner by continuing our operations uninterruptedly, in particular from/to London, Dubai, Amsterdam and Maastricht, along with our wide flight network encompassing the globe.
Boasting 30 years of operational experience in transporting special cargo, Turkish Cargo exercises maximum care and diligence for special cargo shipments and carries out operations successfully, supported by trained and specialised teams.
Between February 01 and August 31, when healthcare shipments such as medical equipment, pharmaceutical products and masks were in strong demand due to the global pandemic, we transported 30 thousand tonnes of pharmaceutical products and approximately 10 thousand tonnes of medical equipment, and increased our global market share to 5.4 per cent from 3.9 per cent.
Turkish Cargo has become the first air cargo brand that possesses all of the three certificates issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – CEIV Pharma, CEIV Fresh and CEIV Live Animal, while continuing to carry out storage and operational processes for special cargo shipments in accordance with the Perishable Cargo Regulations (IATA PCR).
What specific initiatives Turkish Airlines/Cargo has planned for the year 2021 that would propel its aim to be one of the top-five brands of the air cargo industry?
Turkish Cargo aims to increase service quality oriented at customer satisfaction and environment while enhancing business processes, flight network, fleet, tonnage, and facility capacity.
For the time being, we are making our infrastructure autonomous with innovative technology and digitalising our business processes. We are providing our customers at any destination around the world with conveniences in storage and transportation by putting our virtual workforce in action backed by expert insights into artificial intelligence, and beyond.
Besides, we have an unrelenting drive for wanting to achieve something big, we are looking to attain annual cargo transportation capacity of 4 million tonnes at our SmartIST facility in Istanbul Airport, once we move our business processes there.