As the air cargo industry moves towards the new normal and resumes operations, it aims to meet the pre-COVID figures. However, as air freight remains downbeat in the country despite the easing of restrictions, the flight to recovery seems to be full of turbulence for the sector that has been fighting tooth and nail to combat the virus.
As the nation awaits the arrival of the COVID vaccine, it relies on the air cargo sector for a seamless distribution, whose preparedness has been highly appreciated and equally criticised. To throw some light on this, we reached out to Yashpal Sharma, Managing Director, Skyways Group who provided us with crisp and insightful responses on the most-asked questions such as the industry’s preparedness for the vaccine, its restoration, the role of data and technology, and much more. Edited excerpts:
The world is expecting a COVID-19 vaccine any time now and once out, air cargo will play a huge role in its distribution across geographies. What will be the role played by freight forwarders like Skyways in this unprecedented one-of-a-kind project?
The world is eagerly awaiting the Vaccine of COVID 19. Once the same is ready and approved the key will be to get it across geographies and distribution to the 7+ billion people of the globe. Air cargo will play a pivotal role in this as only this medium can bring the speed needed to reach every corner. A freight forwarder is a true facilitator of movement of goods. From pickup, custom clearance, regulatory compliance for EXIM and air cargo capacity creation, they need to ensure the entire chain works smoothly. Movement of Vaccine needs precision with temperature control through all the touch points. Thus a forwarder will need to ensure they have all the requisite tools and equipment to move goods from the vaccine manufacturer to different parts of the globe keeping the efficacy of the vaccine intact.
Skyways being the largest air cargo freight forwarder of India has set up a control tower to manage and monitor end to end movement of the vaccine. We have also created enough air cargo capacity to handle large volumes of vaccine as it is ready for exports from India.
As per IATA predictions, the cargo arm of the aviation sector is showing healthier recovery than passenger front, though at a slower pace than expected. What further steps should be taken by the airports, government and other agencies in order to restore the air cargo stakeholders’ confidence in the business?
The past few months have been most eventful for any Logistics company in terms of speed and collaboration extended by various Government bodies like the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Customs and Terminal operators. The Air Cargo capacity is currently at 60% of its pre-covid period. I strongly feel that the single most important step that the government must take is to step in and bring in more air cargo capacity to Indian skies which will mean more rational pricing for air freight and which in turn will mean that more and more products can move by air.
The demand-supply mismatch is currently unhealthy for EXIM thus pushing various products to use other means of transportation making Indian exports be less competitive for buyers due delayed lead times.
How has Skyways Group adapted to new innovations and trends and put their best foot forward in these unprecedented and trying times to meet the demand of the market? What is the best thing that has come out of this lockdown?
Skyways Group has always been a product mix company where you will find the best of talent and equipment. This balance has stood us, as a company, to meet the needs of our business commitments.
There were various process innovations done to suit the new standards of work during the Covid period. Each of our product teams re-engineered our processes. This was also done in real quick time and we were ‘business-ready’ within a few days of the lockdown. Skyians are now confident of meeting any Logistics need of our customers without being in office. The confidence to strive through tough times that we have gained is unparalleled to any other gain.
This is an abridged version of the original story that appeared in the September issue of the Logistics Insider magazine. Click here to read the complete and unedited story.