Aircargopedia Newsblast: December 2020!
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14th December 2020  

Dear Air Cargo Professional:

Learn more about the Information systems applications with this informative article written by Peter Canellis, PhD, PE, Professor of Management.

Read this article by Samrat Barari, CEO, Sunflower Technologies to find out how machine learning and AI software can benefit the Air Cargo Industry.

In more World Air Cargo news, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo has created the world’s first sustainable aviation fuel program for the air cargo industry. Liege Airport reaches 1 million tonnes transported.

Delta brings proven COVID-19 vaccine transport capabilities to shipments across the globe. dnata rolls out just-in-time freight handling platform in Dubai.
  DJ Ghosh

D.J. Ghosh
President & Publisher
”The Complete Encyclopedia for the Air Cargo Professional & Investor”


Using Machine Learning how AI can benefit the Air Cargo Industry

Let’s imagine an air cargo warehouse that runs on its own with minimal human monitoring. Stock inputs would be captured with drone-fitted cameras and machine learning algorithms.

Having this type of “smart-warehouse” isn’t that far off in the future. We are on the verge of using the next evolution of artificial intelligence for air cargo supply chain management. Machine learning will enable an intelligent value chain. Read on to learn more about machine learning and the implications it has for the air cargo industry.

Analytics and Machine Learning
Analytics has been on a high evolution curve over the past few years. There has been talk around the dawn of Analytics, marked by an era where data analytics can be applied not only to internal operations but to its portfolio of offerings. This is accomplished with new techniques and methods that gather insights from big data at faster speeds than ever before.

Using machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) software can learn and predict the locations and timing of airfreight shipping each day for various supply chain operators around the world. Not only is it pragmatic, but the user-friendly design aims to lower the barrier of entry for managing AI.

That being said, none of this is inherently “new” to the air cargo industry. Recently, automation, along with standardization and digitalization have been elements of the air cargo industry for years. But what we’re moving towards is being able to culminate the total knowledge across channels and produce powerful predictive models, thanks to machine learning and AI. This will allow us to further refine the already robust nature of automation in the industry and move forward with leaps and bounds.

Machine Learning Implications for Air Cargo

Air Cargo
Machine learning algorithms can be used to predict the on-time delivery rates of packages, taking into account factors like weather at all points in the supply chain. The algorithm analyzes the company’s data to create a predictive model. By predicting shifts in delivery dates, carriers could notify customers of changes in real-time.

Air Traffic Management
Predictive analytics can help airports and air cargo carriers improve the use of runway space. Airports can predict peak traffic times and anticipate the demand for their staff and resources. Benefits can also extend to last-minute modifications to shipping routes.

Algorithms could also be used to route specialized or high-value products in the most efficient way possible. Knowing the fastest routes could allow for higher rates, as carriers could now quantify the values of each route.

Apart from improving the efficiency of the supply chain, machine learning can also help protect the chain’s growing stores of data. Algorithms can learn payment relationships and patterns, and detect when something seems off. This learning of relationships can also be helpful for detecting anomalies and suspicious activity.
This level of learning can prove invaluable for air cargo carriers. Prevention against payment issues can improve relationships between stakeholders across the supply chain. Protection from security breaches can save carriers from costs for data recovery and security system overhauls.

Moving Forward with Machine Learning
Machine learning will only continue to transform industries like air cargo over the years to come, touching processes from inventory management to warehouse management to transportation. We are sure to see a significant improvement in the accuracy and efficiency of these processes. We will also see this being taken a step forward in 2021 – and perhaps a few more years to come – to automate processes.

Samrat Barari

Samrat Barari,
CEO, Sunflower Technologies, US & Canada

Airbridge banner

To Buy or To Build? That is the Question

Information systems applications are most effectively created and sourced when strategic intent is kept in mind

It has been said that “with infinite time and infinite resources, all things are possible”. I suppose that’s true; but it’s also true that it doesn’t apply to any of us! As we all soldier on in a highly competitive and global marketplace, we are acutely aware of our limitations and constraints. Accordingly, we need some guiding principles to help us choose and prioritize investment of our (unfortunately) limited resources.

Those whom I like to call “Mega-Thinkers” (the McKinseys and Accentures of the world) tell us that the pandemic has set us on a course to catapult our use of technology to a level that would have taken about ten years to attain under the evolutionary conditions of a pre-COVID world. If so, it will be helpful to explore some common-sense ideas that may contribute to making these decisions more effectively.

Technical and Functional Adequacy

Information systems applications must be both technically and functionally adequate to support business processes.

Technical adequacy includes attributes such as:
• Acceptable response time
• User-friendliness
• Good support
• Technical viability (e.g., integration with other system elements, )

Functional adequacy includes attributes such as:
• Meeting business process requirements
• Providing essential information
• Supporting tactical and strategic objectives and goals

If we score existing applications as “Low” or “High” across both categories of “Adequacy”, we can develop a two-by-two matrix to guide action and prioritization.

Information System img1

Quadrant 1 - Low Functional / Low Technical: Applications in this quadrant are probably compromising operations and should be prioritized for replacement.

Quadrant 2 - Low Functional / High Technical: These applications should be scheduled for improvement because adequate functional adequacy may be attainable with relatively minor programming changes.

Quadrant 3 - High Functional / Low Technical: These applications should be improved or possibly replaced if replacement will bring about significant improvements in technical adequacy

Quadrant 4 - Hi Functional / Hi Technical: Applications in this quadrant should be kept and reviewed periodically to ensure that they continue to meet the required standards of functional and technical adequacy.

“Critical” Processes and “Core” Processes

“Critical” processes are those for which a high level of competence is needed. “Core” processes are those which are essential to the nature of your business or, to put it another way, those for which your clients and customers are paying you.

For example, logistics services providers’ core processes are those that contribute to moving their customers’ products safely and efficiently within specified time and cost parameters. Because they are “critical”, they must also be “core”. In contrast, processes that support Payables or Payroll are certainly critical but not core because the customers don’t view these processes as directly adding value to fulfillment of their needs.

This distinction is an important consideration in our present discussion because information systems support business processes. Accordingly, the most important applications for evaluation by the matrix in Figure 1 are those that support core processes.

Applications that support core processes are most effectively retained and developed with “in- house” investment. After all: this is your business!! In contrast, applications that are critical but not core can be outsourced to a trusted partner and monitored closely. The alternative is to develop them internally, but this will divert investment (remember those constraints!) from improvement in your core competencies.

Information System img2

When to Buy and When to Build

Once applications have been chosen for improvement, the final pair of criteria will be the extent of your resource commitment (again, those constraints!) compared to the flexibility and control that you want to exercise. To make this decision, we need one more (and last) matrix

Information System img3

If you don’t need much flexibility and control (typically for non-core / non-critical process support) and you don’t want to commit a lot of resources, an effective choice might be to buy software and adapt your processes to the application. If your control needs are low but you can expend some resource, then maybe buying and customizing an application would be more appropriate.

On the other hand, if your need for flexibility and control is high but spending must be minimized, a good route to take is purchase from an Application Services Provider (an “ASP” in the jargon). This can typically be done on a subscription or a transaction basis; and you can change ASP’s if your needs change. Lastly, if your control needs are high and funds are available, building from scratch for a custom fit to your core business processes may be the way to go

Peter Canellis

Peter Canellis, PhD, PE
Professor of Management
Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology


Air France KLM Martinair Cargo Creates Sustainable Aviation Fuel Program for Air Cargo Industry

Earlier this month, Air France KLM Martinair Cargo announced that it has created the world’s first sustainable aviation fuel (“SAF”) program for the air cargo industry, allowing freight forwarders and shippers to reduce their carbon emissions by participating in the program.

The air cargo SAF program allows shippers and forwarders to operate flights with a specified percentage of sustainable fuel. Cargo customers who participate in the program will receive a third-party audited report, showing the purchased amount of sustainable fuel in relation to total traffic and the reduction in carbon emissions thus achieved.

By participating in the cargo SAF program, Air France KLM Martinair customers will not only help pioneer the use of sustainable fuels in the air cargo industry, but will also scale up the SAF market, contributing to a cleaner, sustainable future for the entire aviation industry. Because sustainable fuels are not yet widely available, the company has created the program in the hopes that it will stimulate and enlarge the global market for sustainable fuels, leading to an overall reduction in their prices over time.

In a statement to the press, Adriaan den Heijer, the Executive Vice President Air France-KLM Cargo and the Managing Director of Martinair, stated, “Our commitment to reducing CO₂ emissions is one of the cornerstones of our cargo strategy. The launch of a SAF programme for airfreight is an important step in our ambitious sustainability roadmap for the coming years. I invite all our customers to join us in creating a more sustainable cargo future.”

The company also noted that Air France and KLM have been leaders in the industry with regard to fuel efficiency and the quest for alternative fuel solutions. For example, KLM operated the world’s first commercial flight using SAF on June 29, 2011, with a flight from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Paris Charles de Gaulle. Moreover, in the same year Air France operated its first flight powered by SAF from Toulouse to Paris as part of the Paris Air Show - Le Bourget.

Peter Canellis
Kevin Pflug,
Lawyer and Journalist

Air Canada Cargo

Liege Airport reaches 1 million tonnes transported!

Liege Airport, 2 December 2020

Historic and symbolic day for Liege Airport : the milestone of 1 million tonnes transported was reached with the landing of a plane from the Russian company Airbridge Cargo chartered by the Chinese company HongYuan and handled by the French company WFS and the Belgian company Belgium Airport Services (BAS). This international logistics chain is a fine example of the development of Liege Airport.

Liege Airport

Since 1996, with the arrival of the first carrier Cargo Airlines (CAL), the airport has focussed its strategy on “full cargo”, which involves working with airlines that carry only cargo on their planes. The arrival of TNT in 1998 was at the roots of this development and, since then, many companies have joined Liege Airport, as Luc Partoune, CEO, explains: “In 1996, we transported just under 8,000 tonnes. The figure of 1 million tonnes shows how far we have come since then with an almost equal distribution between import and export. This is the result of the work of our entire cargo community and I would like to thank and congratulate our staff and all our partners once again”.

A world-scale village
In addition to the European network TNT, which has been gradually consolidated, its intercontinental connections now make Liege Airport an essential hub for many operators: “We connect more than 250 airports around the world with Fedex, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian, AirBridge Cargo, CAL, Astral, Air China Cargo, SF Express, Icelandair and others. Liège has become a world-scale village for all high-value goods that must travel quickly and far. The development of the airport is carried out entirely in compliance with the regulatory framework (PDLT), which is determined by the Region”, adds Luc Partoune.

Increase in tonnage at Liege Airport between 1996 and 2020

Liege Airport

South African Airways
Delta brings proven COVID-19 vaccine transport capabilities to shipments across the globe

ATLANTA, Dec. 3, 2020

Delta has proven capabilities for transporting COVID-19 vaccines after successful shipments earlier this year. With large warehouses and cooler facilities in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York-JFK and Seattle, and a network of 49 certified Pharma airports across the globe, Delta has capabilities in place to support vaccine shipments at home and around the world.

In addition to robust domestic shipment capabilities to support rapid distribution within the U.S., Delta has a broad and nimble global distribution function in coordination with Air France KLM Martinair Cargo and Virgin Atlantic Cargo that enables end-to-end compliance and assurance for customers across our broad network.

“Effective and rapid distribution of the vaccines as they reach final approvals is one of the most critical elements in containing the virus,” said Rob Walpole, Vice President, Delta Cargo. “That’s why we created a vaccine task force months ago charged with understanding requirements and working with healthcare and pharmaceutical experts, building scalable solutions to support the industry. After successfully shipping test vaccines throughout the summer and fall we are confident in our capability and stand ready to help ensure approved vaccines are broadly distributed.”


Delta has introduced enhancements to our existing pharmaceutical delivery protocols to support safe, swift distribution, including:
• The highest level of access and boarding priority
• A Vaccine Control Tower with 24/7 centralized monitoring and customer reporting
• Pharma-ready Cargo-only charter options for operations within and outside our existing network

Delta has extensive experience in shipping vaccines and was the first U.S. passenger airline to receive IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Pharma Logistics Certification at our headquarters and Atlanta warehouse. We already offer four tailored pharmaceutical shipping options which meet specific temperature requirements for vaccines ensuring integrity through the entire journey.

Turkish Cargo

dnata rolls out just-in-time freight handling platform in Dubai

Dubai, UAE, 30 November 2020

dnata, one of the world’s leading air services providers, has further enhanced operational efficiency by launching a smart, just-in-time freight handling platform across its Dubai operations. A cloud-based platform, Appointment and Dock Management (ADM) ensures improved planning, efficient processing and end-to-end transparency of the entire cargo journey, delivering significant benefits for all freight forwarders. The innovative solution is provided by Siemens Logistics and its wholly owned subsidiary Siemens Digital Logistics.

ADM enables freight forwarders to book an appointment with the cargo terminal to deliver and pick up consignments. The system considers multiple parameters – such as shipment characteristics, flight details, vehicle types, and other business-relevant factors to determine the optimal slot for delivery or acceptance of goods. A unique feature of the digital platform is its capability to intelligently predict the duration and suggest an appropriate slot based on the historical behaviour of the forwarders and the flight schedule.


ADM has reduced the average freight handling time at dnata’s cargo terminals by more than 60 percent to an average of 30 minutes, meeting the industry’s needs for planning and transparency to avoid costly idle time for carriers, freight forwarders and terminal operators. Furthermore, the platform allows terminal operators to see demand in real-time, enabling them to plan the required resources and serve customers just in time. The solution coordinates with Dubai Customs to schedule inspection activities, too. Further associated business processes within the cargo terminal are also integrated as part of automated process connectivity.

Bernd Struck, Senior Vice President, UAE Cargo and DWC Airline Services, dnata, said: "We are delighted to offer our partners more value by implementing another innovative solution across our Dubai operations.

"ADM is a crucial element in our digital transformation programme. It seamlessly integrates into Calogi, our existing trading platform for the air cargo community, which connects over 800 supply chain partners with 2000 users. We continue to invest in leading technologies to provide best-in-class services to our customers.

" Michael Reichle, CEO of Siemens Logistics, said: "We offer powerful applications for increasing efficiency in freight and cargo process management. We are proud of how the platform in Dubai has improved our customer's business processes."


As one of the world's leading cargo service providers, dnata handles 700,000 metric tons of cargo per year at the two Dubai airport airports, Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC). The ADM integrates around 800 freight handling agents and manages already more than 600 appointments per day, whereby the system is capable of even more.

Over the past few years, dnata has significantly invested in state-of-the-art technologies to deliver the highest possible value for customers. As part of its digital transformation, the company has revisited all of its processes and support functions to ensure that customers get simplified services and timely solutions. In addition to ADM, dnata has also launched One Cargo, an innovative cargo management system that steers all processes and manages all air cargo operations on a single technology platform. One Cargo has eliminated all redundancies and manual check sheets and simplified dnata‘s operations, significantly improving operational efficiency at both Dubai airports.

Most recently, dnata has been focussed on enhancing its pharma handling capabilities. The company has been using the latest technologies and global best practices to ensure that every pharma and vaccine shipment is handled in compliance with the highest international standards. dnata‘s certified warehouses are capable of handling large volumes and can be further expanded to handle the COVID-19 vaccine when demand arises.

Siemens Digital Logistics is a provider of software and consulting solutions for the digital supply chain. ADM is based on the Logistics Platform AX4 which is among the leading IT platforms for managing cross-enterprise supply chain processes and enables digital integration of various players and system environments.

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