Could a new app be a taste of the way our industry uses technology in the future?
Brussels airport has already had a great deal of success with its BRUcloud open community platform in recent years – and it seems that freight forwarders at the airport are now embracing the cutting edge data-sharing technology to develop new solutions to old problems.
The Customs Export Application was strongly supported by Air Cargo Belgium (ACB) – who represent the country’s air cargo community – and with the advantages it delivers it’s clear to see why the technology has been given the industry body’s backing. The app matches collected manifest data (both from the freight forwarders themselves and existing data that is available within the BRUcloud system) and then automatically reports complete and accurate information to customs. The new technology saves time on all sides – particularly in terms of the amount of time processing air waybills. Customs have also agreed to clear shipments handled via the app first, providing yet another opportunity to speed up processes for all stakeholders.
A shared approach
A real key to the success of the app has been the collaborative approach taken by all parties – both in terms of the development of the Customs Export Application and its subsequent roll out.
“This collaboratively created app results in a lower administrative burden for all the parties,” says Bart Vleugels, who is advisory general at the Federal Public Service of Finance, Customs and Excise Duties. “Digitization within BRUcargo will further lower the chances of errors and will help to drastically decrease lead times.”
Freight forwarders have certainly bought in to the new technology, with 90 per cent of the air freight passing through BRUcargo now using the app.
Industry best practice
Ignazio Coraci comments: “The industry can learn a huge amount from the great work done at BRUcargo, not just in terms of the technology itself and its application, but also in the collaborative approach taken to its development by everyone involved. This kind of open cooperation between stakeholders is a model for similar projects.”
It has been a truly impressive start to the year for Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), with growth in traffic right across the board. In terms of air cargo business, HKIA has handled an impressive 2.3 million tonnes of cargo already this year in the first six months to June – that’s up a remarkable 11.3% on the same period last year.
So what has been behind HKIA’s great start to the year – and more importantly, do the experts think it will be sustained? Well, in the latest figures from June, 410,000 tonnes of cargo passed through the airport, up 11.4% on 2016 – and there are indications that a 17% year-on-year increase in June exports from the airport led to the high growth in cargo tonnage for that period. That bump in export figures has certainly contributed then to the airport’s positive performance in the first half of 2017, but HKIA has also benefited from an improved global outlook. And with the Asian markets leading the way in air cargo growth, HKIA is in prime position to take advantage of a global economic performance that is looking positive in terms of consumer and business confidence.
Investing for the future
HKIA isn’t standing still, with work starting last August on a third runway to help accommodate future growth. The airport is also making further investments to ensure it meets the needs of customers.
“On the cargo front, HKIA continues to develop its ability to serve fast-growing segments of the high-value cargo business, such as fresh produce and temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals that require specialised handling,” says an airport spokesperson. “The airport authority and local industry stakeholders are working closely together to pursue the IATA Centre of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) accreditation on airport community basis and HKIA is expected to be recognised as an IATA CEIV Pharma Partner Airport by the third quarter in 2017.”
A sustainable future
Ignazio Coraci comments: “Clearly Hong Kong is an important site for both our ASC Cargo and SW Italia businesses, and so the news that air freight handling is continuing to grow there is great to hear. I’m also really encouraged by the investment in infrastructure that is being made at HKIA – it will go a long way towards making sure that the performance we’ve seen so far this year is sustained.”
Bogoslof Island might be small, but the impact it’s having on transpacific air freight operations has been significant in recent months.
A major impact
The volcano is located in Alaska and is a part of the Aleutian island chain that arcs between the Asian and American landmasses. It first erupted back in May, and has remained active ever since – with serious implications for the many transpacific routes whose flight paths cross the region. Eruptions in late June sent a huge amount of ash and steam into the atmosphere to a height of around 36,000ft – right into the path of many crucial air freight routes.
Experts say that the disruption could continue for a while yet.
“The volcano remains at a heightened state of unrest and in an unpredictable condition,” says the Alaska Volcano Observatory “Additional explosions producing high-altitude volcanic clouds could occur at any time.”
The volcanic activity at Bogoslof has led many air freight operators in the region to adjust their schedules, with a number of flights being cancelled as a result of the ash cloud. It’s a situation that puts increased pressure on a region already suffering as a result of poor weather in Shanghai and Hong Kong. It means that space is tight and that capacity is down for some companies.
Bad weather in China has also affected flights to the EU, once again seriously impacting the amount of space available. “Airlines are increasing rates to the EU, and bad weather meant about 20 flights in and out of Hong Kong have been cancelled,” one forwarder told The Loadstar, “So space to the EU is really affected.”
Hard to predict
Ignazio Coraci comments: “Natural events are hard – if not impossible – to see coming. However I believe that we can all try to build the capacity into our business models to ensure that the impact of these events is lessened in the future. Unfortunately the pressure that these situations put on our industry mean that it’s likely to have an impact not just on capacity, but prices as well.”