Air Cargo, the Economy, and the Environment

Posted June 6, 2011 on Centerlines Blog by Aneil Patel

The breakfast keynote speaker at the ACI-NA Air Cargo Conference was Hiran Perera, Senior Vice President Cargo Planning and Freighters of Emirates Airlines.Perera travelled all the way from Dubai and was in Washington D.C. for less than 24 hours to address the air cargo conference attendees.

He briefly highlighted the importance that air freight contributes to the airline industry and the wider global economy. Air freight currently accounts for over 40 percent of global merchandise trade by value and provides estimated annual revenue of almost $55 billion worldwide.

The cargo industry plays a critical role as it is involved from the procurement cycle to the delivery of the finished product. Liberal and open sky policies are great catalysts and can trigger unconstrained growth capability, which is important for any developing economy.

Fuel prices are the number one threat for any airline and are doing the greatest damage to the aviation industry. High fuel prices and increased currency volatility could threaten the longstanding relationship between GDP growth and the increase in air cargo volumes.

In 2009, Emirates took delivery of two Boeing 777’s. Perera explained this was the worst time to receive new aircraft; however, he described them as “recession friendly aircraft.”  This was because Emirates successfully managed to fully utilize both 777’s. With the help of passenger and freighter aircraft, cargo revenue currently contributes for 18 percent of Emirates total airline revenue.Emirates Airlines is proud to have accomplished their environmental commitments.  In their short history, they have managed to operate the world’s largest fleet of Boeing’s eco-efficient 777’s pioneered by Emirates through use of innovative navigational technology and journey management, and created new routes across the skies to save precious time, fuel and emissions.

In keeping with the environmental commitments, Perera referred to the need to push for e-freight “Vision to Reality.” This involves replacing the paper trail associated with the cargo supply chain with electronic messaging. E-freight can eliminate an estimated 7,800 tons of cargo weight allowing increased cargo capacity for the customer and give a massive saving of $4.9 billion dollars worldwide. Eliminating 7,800 tons of paper will allow the Air Cargo Industry to contribute to conserving the environment and reducing the carbon footprint.