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The importance of cargo in Europe

‘Air Cargo: Europe’s Bridge to the Global Economy’ took place on 4 December in Brussels with the purpose to demonstrate the contribution of the air cargo business to the European prosperity. 

The event started with the opening remarks stating that air cargo facilitates fast, reliable and secure movement of goods across borders and contributes to the development of economic networks which no other form of transport can provide. After an update on air cargo security given by a policy expert from the European Commission (focussing on ACC3 and PLACI regimes), in the first panel session the audience was reminded that the cargo industry not only connects Europe with every single part of the world, but also makes the passenger flights profitable. 

Air freight is defined by value (instead of volume) and in 2018, the value of goods carried by air globally is expected to exceed US$6tn. Although the current trade disputes make air cargo a challenging segment to operate in, some Euroepan airlines are preparing for the future by renewing and strengthening the business, developing new customer segments whilst also planning for digital transformation. 

In terms of sustainability, many air cargo operators are investing into newest generation aircraft, optimising flight plans, upgrading warehouse and terminal space, eliminating plastic usage and also start to offer their customers the possibility to offset emissions. 

During the second session, focussing on innovation and digitalisation, it was highlighted that more and more investment is coming to this industry segment but there are many challenges to overcome: sharing data within the supply chain, bringing the production of SAFs to a global level and also develop international standards for their usage. Panellists agreed that the air cargo message has to be more effective on the vital importance this segment of the aviation industry represents internationally: providing often life-saving medical supplies or humanitarian aid in emergency situations.