CF EMEA 2020: Carriers look to innovate

The first session at Cargo Facts EMEA 2020 consisted of speakers from Silk Way West Airlines, Lufthansa Cargo, Turkish Airlines and Boeing.

FRANKFURT – Carriers in the EMEA region continue to invest in innovating air cargo through new technologies, as evidenced when attendees gathered this week at the Westin Grand in Frankfurt, Germany, for the second edition of the Cargo Facts EMEA event.

Turhan Ozen, chief cargo officer for Turkish Airlines, said the carrier is close to trialing the use of augmented reality glasses and planning to implement them for the building up of pallets, and for loading and unloading freighters in the next twelve to eighteen months at its cargo hubs.

A second innovation that is closer to being widely deployed is robotic process automation.

“I believe this is a very effective technology that can eliminate lots of low-value processes, activities and tasks,” Ozen said of the automation. He added that Turkish also plans to carry out big data mining trials, saying, “this will change our cargo industry in relation to revenue and pricing in the next two to five years.”

The panelists at the event agreed the air cargo industry is in need of updating. Silke Niemann, vice president of global sales management of Lufthansa Cargo, who moved to cargo from Lufthansa’s passenger business, said that sales processes on that side of the industry are much more automated and digitalized.

“When we look at sales, I would say about 90% of them are handled by a human, either on the phone or by email,” Niemann said. “But we ask our customers for their expectations on a yearly basis. We just recently received the result of that study, and they said very clearly that while they still want human interaction, they also want more digital touch points for improved speed and transparency.”

Lufthansa began implementing automated pricing in December 2019, enabling customers to instantly receive an offer and make a booking. A wider global rollout is planned for 2020.

Wolfgang Meier, president and CEO of Silk Way West Airlines, said there must be the right balance between human and digital touch points. Silk Way West, for its part, is looking at the digital landscape for downstream processes and evaluating the adoption of online booking platforms. A decision is expected to be made later this year, with rollout taking place shortly afterward.

Stay tuned for more from Cargo Facts EMEA 2020.

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