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Three female air cargo executives discussed the various trends in a sector that has new-found prominence following the pandemic. The discussion ranged from sustainability to digitalization taking in the opportunities and challenges along the way.


It was agreed that air cargo still has some way to go with its digital transformation. Although digitizing paper processes and automation will be central to environmental efforts, such a fragmented sector means the impact of new technologies can be limited. The panel noted that there are close to 100 touchpoints on the paper trail in air cargo, meaning almost 100 chances for mistakes to occur. It was hoped that IATA’s One Record initiative, due to come into effect in 2026, will be a game changer.

E-commerce was naturally a focus, which has become a boom sector for air cargo, especially out of Asia. But this is part of the problem too. Every shipment is effectively a one-way ticket making it difficult to find the right balance for a network. Return journeys should also pay their way. E-commerce also leads to very short booking windows, which means predictability is difficult to achieve. This is also a problem with perishables. In effect, air cargo carriers can’t rely on two extremely important components in their revenue stream.

This led to the conclusion that agility is the new stability in air cargo. Situational awareness was vital and air cargo carriers have to stay nimble in a volatile market.

Diversity was naturally a key topic, and it was agreed that there needs to be more diverse talent in the pipeline.

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