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Cargo iQ Chair and Vice Chair speak in wake of COVID-19

Welcome to the second edition of inSight in 2020.

Chairing Cargo iQ, we have penned down a message for our membership and the air cargo community in the wake of this global pandemic.

Since our previous inSight, we have had an Annual General Meeting (AGM) with very good participation, but one which was already impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, since it was our first virtual edition.

Even with that in mind, however, at that moment we couldn’t yet foresee the extent of this crisis that was starting to unfold.

During the past few weeks, on the one hand, we have seen parts of aviation come to a complete standstill, while on the other hand, the world came to rely heavily on air cargo to meet its needs.

We recognise that our members, who come from across the air cargo supply chain, have been severely impacted by COVID-19, due to the reduction in the number of passenger flights, falling demand and the financial strain all of this has put on the industry – but it has also come with opportunity.

Our industry has responded with improvisation and creativity such as establishing new routes in unfamiliar city pairings, using passenger-freighters, loading cargo on passenger seats, increasing air-sea and sea-air offerings and maximising the available charters on offer; showing again the “can-do” mentality of air cargo. Certain issues still remain, such as non-standard emergency procedures, and airport congestions in certain places hampering timely access to the market.

Cargo iQ faces challenges as people are distracted with unforeseen infrastructure constraints because of new traffic flows, an exploding global need for PPE and medical equipment, as well as a wide range of government restrictions, leading to planning challenges and uncertainty in some areas. In such times, the pressures for short term solutions prevail.

However, as Cargo iQ is fundamental to the management of our product quality and remains important, we keep going in the “new normal” as best as possible. Our Working Group meetings in May will be conducted entirely online in virtual space over four days and several time-zones. However, with the success of the AGM in mind, we believe that the working group will be as enthusiastic and productive as usual.

Looking forward, we must prepare ourselves for a world where the industry as a whole might reset, possibly forcing us to deal with fundamental changes. Adequate and flexible standards will be key to allow us to adapt quickly. Quality will be as important as ever.

The industry and our members have shown great resilience, resolve, dedication and adaptability to meet this crisis head on. One thing is certain, that while the world of air travel/aviation may change, or at least take a while to recover, air cargo will continue to be a crucial provider of transport for products needed across the world.

In this edition of inSight, we have included some of our members’ stories that show how the community has adapted and responded to ensure that cargo keeps moving during the pandemic.

We look forward to meeting you all virtually at our next Working Group from 11 May to 14 May 2020. There will certainly be much to discuss.

Thank you and Stay Safe!

Henrik Ambak, Chair, Cargo iQ (Emirates SkyCargo)

Kerstin Strauss, Vice Chair, Cargo iQ (Kuehne + Nagel)

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