Are You Ready for eTailers Onslaught?

Can Air Cargo Supply Chain Members Come Together To Deal With The Pending eTailers Onslaught Before it is Too Late?

The air cargo business is changing as the demands of Screenagers who want items purchased on-line and delivered today / tomorrow grows.

The World is changing rather fast around us with Smartphones everywhere:

  • Driverless Cars / Trucks (Smart Cars / Trucks) are fast approaching;
  • Smart Homes are in the near future;
  • e-Tailers are growing around the world;
  • The Internet of Things – IoT is burgeoning
  • 3D / 4D Printing is here to stay
  • Cloud/Client Architecture has already arrived
  • Virtual & Augmented Reality in its infancy but growing fast and
  • Wearables & Drones are buzzing on our hands and the air.

Whilst some of these changes may not necessarily impact the air cargo industry to any significant extent yet, some and many of them will do significantly in the near future. The key question is, what are we doing to ensure that we have an air cargo industry that continues to thrive and survives the pending e-Tailers onslaught and impact. Some of this impact may be short term but most of them will have a longer term negative effect if we do not band together, start talking, trusting each other and move fast on programs to ensure survival.

Where do we start? Let’s start with the basics:

Removing paper from the way we do business – eAWB to start with, then move towards e-freight. Airlines and forwarders MUST come together and sincerely agree on a way forward. We cannot afford to bang heads against each other anymore.  The Master Air waybill – MAWB and House Air waybill - HAWB are one of the two key documents that are controlled by both partners and we have Cloud based services providing complete integration for global commerce & supply chain data in a very cost effective manner. We MUST start building the air cargo business in a connected world.


Can we do it? I believe that we can if we are transparent with each other and both agree on the fact that our existence is threatened. The need for airlines and forwarders to team up and devise defensive strategies to ensure mutual survival is now. Amazon was recently described as “A feel good company” in terms how they treat their customers and employees. Has this been said of any airline or freight forwarder? We all know what the answer is.


Amazon’s growth has been described as preposterous, given that their annual revenues in 2010 was $34 billion with about 33.000 employees, compared to $107 billion and 269,00 employees in June this year. It is now considered as the fifth-most valuable in the world with market capitalization at circa $366 billion, which is said to be about equal to the combined worth of Boeing, FedEx and Walmart.


If this is not a serious threat to the air cargo industry given these numbers from Amazon, what happens when the collective numbers of today’s eTailers are added up? Should this not be a wakeup call? I wonder what it will take to get us to start taking serious action?

EU Customs is preparing for air cargo paperless transactions in the near future. How ready are we for this without meeting the basics of eAWB and HAWB? Let’s start talking seriously, laying aside historical differences to address the future. IATA – CNS / FIATA – TIACA / GACAG / GSF are we ready?

Simple answer is – No, we are not and the airlines and freight forwarders MUST come together, again in a serious manner and jointly devise defensive strategies to ensure that the air cargo industry as we know it today, does not go the way of the do-do birds.

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