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The air cargo industry is in a state of transition as the old gives way to the new.
Processes are becoming modernised through digital technology, consumer trends are changing as e-commerce grows, and sustainability is gaining in importance.
Change, of course, is inevitable, and amid such changes there have been discussions about the future direction of airfreight, prompting industry leaders to ask, who will be the next generation of air cargo professionals?
A few months ago, we looked at the next generation from the viewpoint of two young men starting out in their careers, which highlighted the need for modernisation and attracting more people to the profession.
But in an industry that is traditionally male dominated, what is the female perspective on the future of air cargo?
Fleur Gase, Network Manager at Reibel Air and Ocean Freight, is 31-years-old and joined the family freight forwarding business after briefly working in the media industry.
Gase is passionate about embracing digital technology, and predicts that the future of air cargo lies in innovation.
“As the next generation of air cargo professionals, we have grown up with constantly advancing technology,” said Gase.
“We are capable of using or inventing new tools to uplift the airfreight industry into a new dimension and an innovative future.”
Gase believes that the air cargo industry can move forward by replacing the “old boys’ network” with more accessible career paths that are open to diversity, and therefore, innovation.
“One reason that air cargo does not attract many young professionals is that our industry is not sexy, but if we offer young professionals the skills and opportunities that they need to advance and work towards a bright future, then I believe that we will be able to retain more talent,” she said.
Evelyne Muls, Junior Project Leader at dnata, is 25-years-old and calling for more collaboration between established leaders in air cargo and the next generation.
Muls believes that by embracing intelligent technology, the industry can move forward together and optimise processes for the benefit of everyone.
“Cooperation will boost the improvement of operations and efficiency in air cargo, and the use of intelligent technologies will create a more efficient and productive industry,” said Muls.
“So, please, embrace the next generation with open arms so that we can learn from each other.”
Muls also believes that being open to change and innovation will ensure that air cargo remains competitive against other modes of transport, particularly in an era of rising e-commerce, growth in the pharmaceutical market, and changing attitudes towards sustainability.
“Air cargo is benefitting from e-commerce due to high customer expectations of delivery times, and, with pharmaceuticals, I expect that air transport will remain the best solution for forwarders because it is time-specific cargo,” she said.
“To remain competitive though, the air cargo industry should increase its efforts on data sharing, data mining, and data security.
“We should also embrace sustainable practices by incorporating the sustainability goals of the United Nations in industry policies.”
Sustainable policies often go hand-in-hand with progressive attitudes, and a progressive approach to air cargo is something that The Netherlands is taking seriously.
Gase is particularly impressed with the innovative approach to technology and collaboration, highlighting examples such as Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN) and the Paperless Goods Transport Schiphol (PGTS) initiative as forward-thinking developments.
“ACN represents forwarders, ground handlers, airlines, and trucking companies, which means that the government can communicate with one organisation for the entire Dutch air cargo industry, ensuring that decisions are made faster,” said Gase.
“With PGTS, freight forwarders can quickly collect the shipments from the ground handler without the hassle of paperwork, and speed is our advantage over other modes of transport like sea freight.”
At the same time, Gase acknowledges there is more work to be done, and that the next generation can help to shape the future of air cargo, while attracting more young people to the profession.
“If we continue with these developments and attract more young professionals to air cargo, then I believe that Schiphol can become Europe’s most progressive airport,” she added.
It may not be possible to predict the future of air cargo, but the next generation believe that collaboration, sustainability, and the use of intelligent technology is the way forward.
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