To remain profitable and create value for customers, the air freight supply chain has to effectively build on criteria such as quality, innovation, efficiency, speed, reliability with the vision to be open to all sectors and offer innovative products, services and operations that can help the industry flourish. The explosive growth of on-line shopping alone will keep the air cargo sector very healthy in 2022 and beyond, and carriers like Turkish Cargo are starting to use big data research in creative ways to increase cargo yields and introduce more velocity into shipper’s supply chains. While economies of scope are characterised by efficiencies formed by variety, economies of scale are instead characterised by volume. Economies of scale, for instance, helped Turkish Cargo maintain sustainable success within its air cargo operations conducted to all over the world. According to Fatih Ciğal, the airline’s Senior Vice President of Cargo Marketing, they continue to script success with more effective solutions by developing and using new technologies and innovative approaches. One of the significant examples of these approaches, he says will be the SmartIST, one of the biggest and most modern air cargo facilities in the world. Excerpts from an insider with Upamanyu Borah.
CARGO AVIATION IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD
Air cargo capacity has become even more valuable, since half of the world’s capacity was supplied by passenger aircraft. From the data point of view, difference between the growth rates of demand and supply kept the rates higher. In 2020, this difference was roughly 10 percentage points, but now it increased to 15 percentage points. We expect this situation to continue until mid-2022.
The past years have resulted in a modal shift from sea to air, and the entire aviation industry stakeholders are taking advantage of the conveniences air mobility offers to customers. In this context, Turkish Cargo had come up with new strategies and took necessary actions during the pandemic. Our operations worldwide have provided a global air bridge via our cargo facilities at Istanbul Airport. We have been carrying time- and temperature-sensitive products such as medical supplies and other essentials to meet the needs of the market and customers with offering faster and reliable shipping across a worldwide network.
Today, we boast a huge cargo fleet comprising 24 freighters further supported by belly and PaxFre flights in order to meet the increasing demand with efficiency in network management.
CRISIS OFTEN SPAWNS THE BEST INTERVENTIONS THROUGH DISTORTIONS
The issues, experienced currently by the air cargo industry can be listed under a few main topics. These are digitalisation, capacity, security and safety, liberalisation, sustainability and intra-industry cooperation.
I consider one of the most important challenges to be digitalisation. In the last five years, the industry has been involved with virtual integrations due to digital developments. Within this framework, even Turkish Cargo has been adapting activities to the new market dynamics in terms of network and fleet. We have been enhancing the overall service and network coverage offered to customers.
MAKING TECHNOLOGY WORK HARDER FOR OWNSELF
The future of air cargo is based on technological developments and digital transformation, and Turkish Cargo has been attaching great importance to digitalisation which has enabled the company to overcome challenges during the pandemic and adapt operations and services. Within this framework, Turkish Cargo took good steps towards digitalisation with a WhatsApp Chatbot called ‘Cargy’ which is offering customers opportunity to learn about their AWB status and tariff inquiries based on O&D via WhatsApp with 24×7 access from their phones. One of the processes that we have been conducting and investing into is RPA technology, and therefore integrating software robots which we call metal collars into our business processes.
Turkish Cargo has also enhanced services in partnership with WebCargo in order to provide a brand-new channel to customers for smoother, easier and faster reservation. Customers can book from anytime and anywhere and get fast responses to their inquiries. In this context, we have been receiving very positive feedbacks from our customers and sector partners.
SEAMLESS MOVEMENT OF GOODS AND INFORMATION
Being highly competitive, the air cargo industry requires innovative and digital solutions to meet the needs of customers for an enhanced speed and efficiency. Within this framework, digitalisation strategy is one of the key points to ensure digital transformation. Providing end-to-end digitalisation to cover all processes is both critical and essential. Significantly, Turkish Cargo’s most recent investment in this development path is the new cargo terminal project at Istanbul Airport ‘SmartIST’ which will be offering smart warehouse systems, work orders integrated with the use of augmented reality and voice directed warehousing, unmanned ground vehicles, RPA robots, IoT and other technological advancements to propel Turkish Cargo to the future.
A SHARP, RATIONAL AND CONSISTENT APPROACH TO REFORMS TO HELP THE INDUSTRY CRUISE
What is significantly observable is that airlines have started to make use of their freighter fleet more actively and the orders for freighters have also increased worldwide. We are of the opinion that such solutions will provide significant contributions to the offerings around current needed capacity to the industry.
Along with global warming, quest for clean energy prompts the search for alternative resources with respect to environmentally-hazardous fuels to curb carbon emissions. Investment in this field by companies will place significant burden into financials coupled with the Air Cargo Carbon Footprint (ACCF) programme implemented by IATA for the purpose of accomplishment of its projects under the sustainability heading. Revenue-decreasing factors may be encountered in the field, such as reduction of the tonnages being carried (due to fuel consumption) and modernisation of fleet due to the risks of sanctions by the regulatory and supervisory supranational organisations. Looking into such issues, companies have managed to reduce fuel costs further, in particular with the increase at the factory-fresh and younger freighter fleet during recent years. Two per cent of global carbon emissions are generated purely by aviation, given the fact that the share of aviation is lower as compared to that of maritime transportation which constitutes 4 per cent of global carbon emissions. However, air cargo is the only mode of transport within which carbon emission per shipment is the highest. All stakeholders of the air cargo industry have therefore set the foot forward to play a key role in the accomplishment of carbon emission targets they have set for themselves and subsequently for the aviation industry.
ENOUGH SCOPE FOR OFFERINGS AND CAPACITY TO BLOOM AND GROW
Turkish Cargo has been operating one of the world’s largest airfreight networks and stands as the fastest growing air cargo brand in the world. We are proud to say that we transport 1 each 20 shipments transported worldwide and we further aim to adapt rapidly to the new market dynamics by acting proactively in order to take the right position in the industry. Turkish Cargo increased global market share to 5.4 per cent according to September 2021 data and reached 97 international destinations with cargo freighters. This means the world’s largest network of cargo freighters.
As we target to become one of the top three air bridges of the world, we continue to expand our network and fleet along with services offered to meet the needs of customers.