This airfr(e)ight business

09 / 09 / 2013

  • Air Cargo News editor Nigel Tomkins

    Air Cargo News editor Nigel Tomkins

CARGO used to be a dirty word in the airline industry.

Not so long ago, well before today’s belated introduction of paperless transactions, and the recognition by planemakers that belly capacity is actually an important contributor to the economics of flying expensive aircraft around the world, airfreight departments were the unheralded, grubby little parts of the business that were often played out in dark offices consisting of a noisy telex machine, some low-budget, second-hand furnishings, manned by some even lower-budget staff, in murky corners of airports.

I remember seeing one such door opening into a windowless cargo office, with the word ‘airfreight’ printed on it, but with the ‘e’ missing, and a handwritten note advising: ‘Gone down the pub’.

Oh, how times have changed. Smarter offices, better equipment, slick technology and new people – are promising to collectively turn this business into an attractive and worthwhile profession.

A school or college leaver today would not be ridiculed for enquiring about a job in air cargo, which is becoming a sophisticated contributor to the delivery of global supply chains. Young, well-educated people will bring new skills and expectations, particularly with regard to electronic communications and marketing.

The revolution is happening now and it is taking place surprisingly rapidly.

The problem is, where will these new professionals come from? What is the air cargo industry doing to attract them?

How about a few of the big players getting together and setting up a global ‘neutral’ apprenticeship scheme for managers of the future?

That would be a start.