Airlines need to grow cargo in an agile way that allows for quick adjustments; pursuing such a play should be seen as part of a wider theme of establishing a more flexible production setup. High fixed costs combined with unpredictable demand levels outside an airline’s control increase the need for airlines to be able to scale down supply nimbly. In response to the high demand and low supply of air freight right now, carriers could investigate short- to medium-term opportunities to boost their cargo services. An example that we have already seen is the deployment of so-called preighters or passenger airplanes. All in all, the shape of the post-COVID-19 airline sector is becoming clearer and holds lessons for airlines today. Multiple longer-running trends have been accelerated, such as digitisation and the phasing out of less efficient aircraft. However, the forecast is not without bright spots. Taking steps now will help airlines thrive in this transformed sector, as so was for Air Canada which finally transitioned to full recovery from the pandemic during the third quarter, leaving behind its US peers, with the help of record cargo revenues. Matthieu Casey, Senior Director- Cargo Global Sales and Revenue Optimisation at the Canadian flag carrier speaks to Upamanyu Borah, on the imperatives and the need to devise mission-oriented strategies, in particular by co-ordinating with all stakeholders and ensuring the consistency while continuing to target the efficient use of resources.
STRIVING FOR CLARITY, KEEPING IT CONCISE, BUT BEING CONSISTENT
With so many changes to the regular way of doing business, including schedules, frequencies, product, service offerings and routes, I believe, all players in the logistics space need to keep clear and consistent communication flows and connect as often as possible with all stakeholders. Keeping people informed with the right messages in a timely fashion is paramount, now more than ever.
ACHIEVING IT – QUALITY, CONSISTENCY IN DELIVERY
The biggest challenge has been fulfiling the demand and ensuring consistency on the most critical and stable trade lanes that the industry has traditionally served.
Air Canada Cargo was relentless in its quest to keep capacity and support trade flows where it was most needed from our customers and logistics partners. Keeping the volumes was never a problem, but keeping the capacity and meeting the market demands has certainly been a true challenge, which we believe we have been able to effectively cater to in the past 20 months.
WELL-BALANCING THE ROADMAP
Our goal has always been to stay on course with our long-term strategy while catering to short-term needs in view of the pandemic challenges that the market has been experiencing. Part of our long-term strategies happened to line up with opportunities to better serve current demands, as well as line-up with post-crisis business resumption. In the short-term, we are extremely excited to be nearing completion of our 30,000 sq ft cold chain facility in our Toronto Pearson hub, as well as the arrival and launch of the first of our eight Boeing 767-300ER freighters later this month. These are two good examples of some strategies that lined up nicely between near-term benefits and long-term strategies.
COMBINING NEAR-TERM PRIORITIES WITH LONG-TERM GOALS
People, technology, and infrastructure are the main areas we have been focussed on. We are moving forward with improvements in our cargo hubs across Canada and globally. And we are also continuing with our technological advancements such as our APIs, which we’ve recently launched.
BIG-PICTURE GOALS TO EXTEND THE PRODUCT SUITE
We are indeed very rich in data and have been putting that to good use by investing in advanced analytics, business intelligence tools, combined with and AI and its applications. On the latter, we have been actively and successfully building upon to better predict capacity and loads to maximise space utilisation, as well as to streamline and improve efficiency in our cargo acceptance processes.
DATALOGGERS: TRY TO CRAM EVERYTHING INTO A SINGLE ARTIFACT
In the last two years alone, Air Canada Cargo has received countless requests to evaluate and approve new sophisticated data loggers, a trend that has moved to real-time ULD tracking. This technology trend provides an opportunity for carriers to improve their quality to meet and exceed GDP and CEIV guidelines for continuous improvement.
BE SOLID TO SERVE THE INTENDED PURPOSE
Cold chain logistics relies on quality metrics established from risk identification and mitigation. Air Canada Cargo began a programme to become CEIV Pharma certified in 2017, then capitalised on the opportunity to become the first airline in the world to certify for CEIV Live Animal, the following year. Today, Air Canada Cargo is the only air cargo logistics provider to hold both certifications in the Western Hemisphere, a testament to our approach to comply with regulations while improving quality and safety. Additionally, we have placed an emphasis on cold chain operations with the announcement and construction of our 30,000 sq ft cold chain facility in our Toronto Pearson hub set to open in Q1 of 2022.