In 2021, cargo airlines will continue to face challenges, however, the automotive, technology, pharmaceutical in general, consumer, perishables and electronic commerce industries will be the ones that contribute to their growth, which will also have to be reconfigured after the limitation of capacity in the commercial airlines due to flight restrictions due to COVID-19, according to actors and specialists in this sector gathered in the Logistics Business Dialogues program, which was entitled Air cargo; 2021, the year of recovery?
“The air cargo industry will continue to benefit because we are going to have limited capacity in passenger bellies (´planes´). But we are going to have to start to see how we grow that capacity and go with new operations and supply a volume of cargo that is exceeded by the infrastructure we currently have ”, said José Medina Blanc, CEO of MEB Advisors.
In this sense, he commented that for the sector the next 2 years will continue to be uncertain, but it will be immersed under certain holdings; commodities and new forms of consumption, such as e-commerce, which in recent months has registered an increase of up to 1000% and technology, which will lead to 70% of the trade that will be transported by air.
Luis Sierra, general director of MasAir, agreed that the aforementioned sectors will be the pillars, although he considered the automotive and consumer industries the ones that will continue to be affected and will not recover for another 16 or 24 months.
Contrary to the technology that was driven by work at home and that has affected the sale of automobiles, pharmaceutical not only because of COVID-19 but opportunities in phase 3 and when the open commercialization of the vaccine takes place; perishable goods where Africa and Latin America have an “incredible” role in their production and transportation.
"One of the great pillars is e-commerce, where patterns have changed and they will not return to what we knew, it had been growing at 2 digits and in a range of consumers and that age range opened. It's going to grow in a very specialized way, "he said.
Fernando Dragonné de la Parra, country manager of Cathay Pacific Airways, said that for the airline it is vital to recover its capacity in passenger flights to make the company viable, although it could be complicated if the sanitary restrictions are not lifted, which is the main obstacle .
However, he pointed out that in cargo the airline did not cancel its operations, but it was left to the size of the demand, operating with an itinerary called "skeleton" so as not to lose rights and slots (takeoff and landing times).
He mentioned that at some point only 350 passengers were transported in the entire system. There were cuts in personnel and temporary layoffs, suspension of destinations, but cargo flights with passenger equipment for cargo handling also began, they generated operating standards, extra capacity or charter flights.
“The focus of the airline is the recovery of the passenger business, that is vital to give the airline viability in the following years. Our main concern is to restore the passenger bridges, ”he said.
Regarding cargo, he mentioned that in Mexico the movement was positive and in line with the reduction in demand, but also, at a general level, he said that there is a concern in the automotive industry about technical stoppages and the lack of semiconductors, as well as in Asia has stopped consuming certain foods such as fresh berries or unfrozen salmon.
“However, we believe that China and Asia will continue to need perishables. Avocado is still in great demand. The medical issue for the import part and the consumption of electronics and infrastructure will continue to be in demand. When the bellies enter, we will have to see what the role of our freighters will be ”, he explained.
Meanwhile, Virginia del Carmen Gallardo, director of the Amacarga Aerial Work Group, commented that in 2020 where a significant drop was recorded due to the pandemic, this 2021 will be a year of reconfiguration, coupling to new trends, as well as a restructuring of the companies themselves.
"Cargo will continue to be very strong, and now with all the modifications that the passenger airlines had to convert them to cargo and the great demand that it has had, it will continue to be present in various things," she said.
José Medina Blanc also commented that airports should make investments in new infrastructure such as the cold chain and to have safe areas for electronic commerce.
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