E-commerce and sustainability will be two of the key factors driving the international air cargo industry in the coming years, senior executives agreed at this week’s Air Cargo Europe event in Munich.

On the commercial front, e-commerce is likely to be “the top growth driver” for the sector as consumers buy more and more goods online from international retailers or companies purchase from overseas suppliers, speakers stressed at a conference session. At the same time, sustainability will be “critical” at an operational level as the air cargo industry transforms itself to meet the challenges of global climate change, regulatory obligations and changing customer needs, a separate session heard.

Long-term growth

Kirsten de Bruijn, EVP Cargo at Canadian airline WestJet, stressed in a keynote presentation at the e-commerce session that e-commerce remains a long-term growth business despite its current ‘normalisation’ after the pandemic-driven boom of the last few years. On the topic of whether it was more important for the air cargo industry to offer speed or reliability, she made clear during the panel discussion that reliable on-time performance was essential for WestJet, given that Canadians were generally happy to receive goods as planned rather than as fast as possible.

Responding to a CEP-Research question about challenges to e-commerce growth, de Bruijn also pointed out that the airline would no longer be able to offer such fast loading and unloading times in future once Canada introduced US regulations on air cargo screening in the coming two years.

Source: CEP-Research