“Delta’s vision is zero-impact aviation”

Delta Cargo executive Rob Walpole for Delta Air Lines at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Ga., on Friday, August 23, 2019. (Chris Rank for Rank Studios)

As passenger flights slowly begin to increase again, the industry is preparing for a post-COVID world. TIACA called to action key challenges that face the industry, two being digitalisation and sustainability, which are key to adapting to world the other side of the pandemic.

Rob Walpole, vice president, Delta Cargo explained to ACW how Delta is responding to this call. “Digitisation is a key focus,” he said.

In 2017, Delta Cargo re-launched their website and re-designed it to be a one-stop shop for customers, a key part of the airline’s digitalisation strategy.

“Customers can book, check-in, manage and track their shipments exclusively online, on a laptop or mobile device, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – as well as submit eAWBs for free. The website continues to be our highest performing preferred digital channel across cargo’s distribution mix with over a third of global bookings made through the website,” Walpole explained.

Last year Delta Cargo also introduced PayCargo, for secure payments. “We also launched API connectivity,” said Walpole. “This provides our customers with the convenience of real-time connectivity to Delta systems from a customer’s own platform. Customers can now easily shop, book and track their shipments from their own platforms.”

Not only do digital investments future proof operations, and make them more sustainable for the workforce, but they are an important factor in sustainability strategies. From paperless operations to SAF programmes, advancement in this sector are imperative for long term viability.

“From being the first and only U.S. airline to voluntarily cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2012 levels to last year’s commitment to be the first carbon-neutral airline globally, Delta has a longstanding commitment to sustainable air travel,” explained Walpole.

“As a company with a vision toward net-zero aviation, we are working within our industry and beyond to help build a new future for aviation where travel and sustainability are not mutually exclusive.”

Delta’s vision is zero-impact aviation: air travel that does not damage the environment directly or indirectly via greenhouse gas emissions, noise, waste generation or other environmental impacts. Achieving this ambitious goal will require significant capital investment, support from government partners, research and development from manufacturers and evolution of some of the world’s largest industries.

“As Delta works to solve its largest impact on the environment—carbon dioxide emissions—it plans to invest in innovative solutions, like carbon capture and storage and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

“SAF and other advanced technologies are not available on a large enough scale to meet today’s industry demands. The market is so underdeveloped that all SAF produced in 2020 would only power Delta’s fleet for one day pre-COVID. This is why investments, guided by a strong long-term vision, are so critical.”