EXECUTIVE INTERVIEW: Mr. Marwan Niazi , Vice President Commercial, Saudia Cargo.
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How has the pandemic impacted the Cargo industry in the Middle East?
The pandemic hit the industry with all the passenger aircrafts being grounded overnight and the air cargo suppliers had to react swiftly to this major change. Saudia Cargo reacted within a very short time frame by revisiting our freighter network and inaugurated the passenger as a freighter concept. Being the national champion, we also had to serve the need of the country with food and PPE equipment and at later stages of the pandemic carrying the vaccines.
As restrictions were changing around the globe daily the air cargo organization had to impose much more agile processes and speed and innovation to accommodate these changes to support our customers need. The perception of air cargo has changed during the pandemic to being a more important part of the logistics supply chain where the speed and reliability have proven the value and the contribution to the airline has increased considerably.
Have industry players been quick to adapt technology to cater to the changing needs in the market?
The many stakeholders being part of an air cargo shipment has traditionally created issues in applying digitization for the industry. Digitization so far has primarily focused on digitizing existing processes and not use the opportunity to change fundamentally. IATA is now leading initiatives that may change the industry in a more drastic manner with respect to digitization which has been long waited for.
We have been investing heavily in increasing our business abilities and now we are investing in digitization with the focus of streamlining our customers processes and embrace some of the newer initiatives such as 3rd party portals.
In which areas and geographies do you see strongest potential for growth?
The consumer behavior during the pandemic has just enforced the already growing e-commerce segment. We are seeing a tremendous growth in e-commerce from China and this traffic is forecasted to grow 3 times normal market growth in the coming years. To support this kind of traffic we have entered partnerships with large customers like Alibaba.
What technologies do you predict will impact the Cargo industry most in the next five years?
The air cargo industry will have to increase digitization towards ease of doing business with us. The ‘consumerization’ in the industry with easy to book portals spanning several airlines and real time tracking and communication will be key to success. Saudia Cargo is part of SkyTeam cargo – the largest cargo alliance in the world – the seamless integration of network and products is giving us a very good platform.
What are your expectations from Dubai Airshow 2021 - which will be the first of its kind event since the coronavirus outbreak?
Although we have successfully been using the digital platforms for meetings and seminars we are looking forward to meeting our customers and colleagues in person. The personal interactions are always giving added value for inspirations and mutual ideas.
How can data collaboration build a more efficiency cargo industry?
As mentioned earlier the digitization in the industry today is copying the existing paper processes and not capturing the full potential of digitization. The data collaboration is a key area where the industry could gain both effectiveness and efficiencies. The initiatives lead by IATA is supporting this but proposing standards and incorporating technology that ensures the security of data.
How can the cargo industry reduce its C02 impact while keeping up with the next day delivery culture?
At Saudia Cargo we have a sustainability strategy aligned with the UN sustainable development goals. Everybody is looking forward to more sustainable fuel but at Saudia Cargo we are pursuing the immediate benefits i.e. by being mindful of reducing plastics waste, using digitization for reducing ULD scrap, and selecting suppliers that are actively showing consideration for the environment.
Lastly, what are Saudia Cargo plans ahead in the region?
We will continue to increase our footprint in the region and follow the 2030 vision laid out for our country. We will continue to work closely with our customers and together evolve our future plans.