Air Canada Cargo talks quality, security and the future of air cargo
This month, Cargo Tracker had the chance to speak with Lise-Marie Turpin, Managing Director of Air Canada Cargo.
Turpin has been in the position for three and a half years, having previously overseen Air Canada operations for the Americas. In her former role she gained an appreciation for standard operating procedures, and the Cargo 2000 program, that she’s taken with her in her leadership position at AC Cargo.
With the increasing concerns over the security of the supply chain, she sees a direct link between a secure supply chain and a quality one. “We can’t look back,” says Turpin. “We all want to operate in a secure environment that doesn’t impede the flow of trade.
To conduct risk assessments, you need data. And to get the data, you need quality programs. What’s happening on the security side is helping to propel C2K further.” This year will see Cargo 2000 standards become available to the entire supply chain, not just to the industry, helping to align the supply chain to a common set of standards and a common language.
In every box, there’s a story
That will help to grow the pie for the entire industry. “Air cargo is about the speed of delivery,” adds Turpin. “To attract demand, we need to add value. Value means quality. It means our ability to maintain the integrity of the entire shipment – like time and temperature sensitive pharmaceutical shipments, for example.”
Air Canada has already begun a communications campaign on the value of air cargo, featuring articles how the supply chain facilitates global trade in its inflight magazine, enRoute. But Turpin notes there is much more to do. Work needs to begin with educating other airline colleagues on the value cargo brings to the carrier as a whole, and the necessity for cargo to make long-haul widebody routes profitable. “In every box, there’s a story,” says Turpin. That story needs to told to the global audience – from how the latest electronic goods ended up at their local store to the ability of pharmaceutical companies to supply critical vaccines.
She underlines the important role of IATA and GACAG in this area, stating that the supply chain’s role in the global economy needs to be told at all levels to make stakeholders more aware of the value the industry provides.
Canada-US cooperation on security
As a carrier that plies the world’s largest trading relationship, Air Canada watches the US-Canadian dialogue on security closely. “Transport Canada and the USA’s Transportation Security Administration have very good dialogue,” remarks Turpin. “The two are currently looking at establishing one perimeter security, which allows us to strike the balance of operating in a secure environment and maintaining economic competitiveness.” Air Canada anticipates that mutual recognition of both countries’ security programs will occur in the first quarter of this year, having a positive impact on traffic flows across the border.
The Canadian carrier is also looking to pilot the TSA’s Advanced Air Cargo Advanced Screening Program (ACAS). The program conducts risk-assessments of US inbound freight based on the provision of advance information, allowing for faster clearance of goods once they arrive on US soil.
Air Canada Cargo currently serves five Latin American markets – Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Santiago and Sao Paulo. The cargo uplift in those markets has been impressive, and is partially responsible for a seasonal upgauge from a Boeing 767 to a Boeing 777 on certain routes. “We’d like to of course operate with more capacity year round, but we’re limited by current fleet expansion plans,” says Turpin, acknowledging the 787 delays the industry is experiencing. Once the new aircraft arrive in two years time, their deployment will increase cargo capacity and at the same time reduce the carrier’s environmental footprint.
E-business: looking for someone to play with
Turpin acknowledges the challenge airlines have faced in implementing e-freight, stating that the benefits have not been evident to all involved, and that the industry continues to be challenged from a cost perspective. Nevertheless, Air Canada is looking to increase e-freight penetration on international trade lanes. By the end of 2012, the carrier is aiming for 12% penetration. “But we need to have someone to play with,” says Turpin.” We can’t dictate that a freight forwarder embraces e-freight.” Building awareness of the benefits by working with the freight forwarding community will be key, as will be working on an interface that allows smaller players to get onboard.
E-AWB, on the other hand, is a document that airlines own and control. At the end of 2011 Air Canada became e-AWB capable. By the end of 2012, the carrier expects to achieve 15% e-AWB penetration, in line with the target set by the IATA Cargo Committee and the Board of Governors.
For Turpin, it all comes down to where the discussion started – about quality. “E-business is all about the electronic exchange of information, which will generate quality and visibility in our business,” says the Managing Director of Air Canada Cargo. “We need to get into the electronic world – cargo’s been lagging behind the times.”