LOS ANGELES, Cal.–Commenting on the theme of this year’s IATA World Cargo Symposium, held March 11-13 in Los Angeles, California, and called ‘Transformation through Innovation’ Air Canada Cargo said the timing couldn’t be better.
“The air cargo industry is going through many changes, and we have to adapt to a new reality,” says Vice-President Lise-Marie Turpin. “We have to focus on retaining relevance in this new context.”
Overcapacity, modal shift, changing trade flows, regulatory requirements and miniaturization are some of the challenges air carriers must face and adapt to in to remain successful, she said.
“Innovation is key to retaining market share and growth,” says Turpin. “When we think of innovation, we think of technology first. We think of investing in new systems, of developing technologies that can increase efficiencies and help us better serve our customers. This thinking should also apply to business processes. Outdated processes can hinder growth. It’s a good idea to question how we do things, why we do them, and to turn out fresh ideas.”
Turpin said Air Canada Cargo is focused on meeting the challenges of increased capacity.
“Air Canada Cargo is in a great position. The belly carrier model is the most cost effective one for moving air freight. We have the advantage of Air Canada’s global network, which we extend via our own interline and trucking network and key partnerships.”
“The last of our 5 new B777-300ER aircraft is now in place, and these offer excellent capacity for air cargo. They are currently deployed on some high demand routes, like Montreal -Paris, Toronto -Vancouver and Vancouver – Hong Kong,” said Turpin.
“The Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft are also being incorporated into the fleet this year, replacing 767 aircraft that will be shifted over to Air Canada rouge. Six of the 37 ordered will be delivered this year. One of these will be deployed on the Toronto- Tel Aviv route starting July 1. This is a great opportunity for cargo. These aircraft can accommodate more freight compared to the 767. The 787 also allows us to extend our network to destinations like Tokyo’s Haneda airport.”
While fleet growth and network expansion are front and center for Air Canada, Air Canada Cargo also continues to develop technologies to improve its services, she said.
“We have a solid foundation on moving shipments as booked and arriving on time, but we continue to look at what we can do to shorten the time that freight is in our custody. To best serve our customers, the freight has to be in and out fast. Meanwhile regulatory requirements keep increasing,” says Turpin.
Air Canada Cargo uses two IT solutions, iRamp and iLynx to keep freight moving quickly and efficiently through its key Canadian stations.
iRamp is a dispatching tool that manages how freight is run from the facility to the aircraft.
“With iRamp, runners get immediate notification, in their vehicles, when freight is ready to be picked up on the ramp, and we can monitor where each vehicle is at all times at multiple stations from a single point,” says Director of Operational Strategy Mike Morey. “This technology has had a significant positive impact on productivity and service levels.”
iLynx is a mobile scanning solution that is essentially a mobile version of Air Canada Cargo’s operating system. Employees can scan a ULD or an air waybill in the warehouse from their mobile devices.
“The advantage of these technologies for our customers is they can have access to real-time information about their shipments,” says Lise-Marie Turpin. “Our processes and service are improved, and customers get an immediate benefit.”
Turpin participated in a panel discussion at FACES (Future Air Cargo Executives Summit) during the 2014 IATA World Cargo Symposium. Entitled Today Meets Tomorrow: Conversations with Today’s Air Cargo Leaders, the discussion aimed to generate a greater exchange of views between young generation and current industry leaders.
“Our industry is interested in attracting, recruiting and training future leaders, and FACES is a great forum to encourage that,” says Turpin. “I think there is a talent gap. Our industry is becoming more complex, and we need to attract people with strong analytical skills who also know our business. Our industry is at a crossroads, and people with fresh ideas will be crucial if we are to continue being relevant.”