FEATURE ETIHAD CARGO | CARGO INSIGHT Air cargo operators have come into their own in recent weeks as they have had to react to a massive drop in capacity. Here, market experts from Etihad Cargo provide an insight into how one of the leading operators has adjusted to the changes and how the air freight sector is likely to evolve as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic reports Joe Peskett How has demand for your services been impacted since the pandemic started? east/west trade routes over the past few weeks. We have also experienced a significant demand for additional capacity and increased flights in and out of Beijing and Shanghai as key production hubs for medical equipment. As a result, we now operate eight weekly 777 freighter flights, supported by additional charters and passenger freighters to mainland China. During April, more than 4,421 tonnes were carried by 116 flights to China, with 70% of shipments from Beijing and 90 per cent from Shanghai being medical supplies. Abdulla Mohamed Shadid, managing director cargo and logistics at Etihad Aviation Group Naturally at Etihad Cargo we were not immune to the global capacity crunch and with the suspension of passenger flights in and out of the UAE on 24 March, we lost 65% of Etihad Cargo’s overall cargo capacity to more than 80 destinations worldwide. The limited capacity worldwide fuelled the demand with the need to transport perishables and medical supplies across the world as soon as possible and to ensure connectivity across key global trade lanes. Thankfully, we were prepared for the shifting demands with recent investments in our cool chain products, which were awarded IATA’s Centre of Excellence for pharmaceuticals and perishable logistics in 2019. As a result, we witnessed the demand from our customers for perishables and medical supplies increase by 25 per cent in the UAE and along key The air cargo market has traditionally lagged behind other sectors. How could the pandemic accelerate change within the sector? What changes do you expect to see? Andre Blech, head of operations and service delivery at Etihad Cargo The air cargo industry is traditionally known to be labour intensive. With Covid-19 forcing people around the globe to work from home, conventional carriers that rely on physi- 16 | LOGISTICS MIDDLE EAST JULY-AUGUST 2020 www.logisticsmiddleeast.com
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