US based Safran Cabin Cargo create innovative solutions for capacity problems. ACW spoke to the company about how the pandemic has sparked innovation.
ACW: How has the last year been in terms of business for Safran?
Safran: During the last year we saw of course a slowdown of activities for Safran, reflecting the general trend in the industry, but despite that, we still had a positive year, with interesting customers projects and pursuing our development plans. The overall context is forcing each player of the market to be very cautious in their investments, whether you’re a supplier or a customer.
We decided to take it as an opportunity to bring even more focus in our strategy, and be more critical with our offering, always having in mind to provide the best possible offer to our customers.
What changed the most during the pandemic, is the way we can connect and interact with our customers, going fully digital. Finally, overall, the interest and focus on sustainability has grown in the aviation industry, and we see now more often questions on how that should reflect in the cargo industry.
ACW: How as demand for ULDs changed during the pandemic?
Safran: As you can imagine, the commercial airline flights significant “pause”, and more specifically the reduction of belly capacity coming from commercial wide body aircraft, reflected in a demand change, going more towards main deck containers. Very fast, the market moved to a higher share of freighters, which partially mitigates the reduction of belly capacity.
The demand for air cargo remaining close to pre-COVID numbers, we actually see the demand for ULDs adapting to the available capacity types, but not necessarily declining as much as the rest of the aviation industry activities. The pandemic effect on e-Commerce growth is definitely reinforcing this trend. So overall, the demand slowed a bit, as the entire industry, but the ULD market showed a lot of resilience over the last year.
ACW: How did the shortage in capacity caused by the pandemic spark innovation at Safran?
Safran: Being an interiors supplier and not limited to air freight offer, we used that as an opportunity to break the walls between our product lines, exploring ideas around the cabin much more. We also reinforced certain projects that were already running, such as our communication on pallets, that could also be installed on passenger aircraft cabin floors.
ACW: Has Safran any new developments in the pipeline for 2021?
Safran: We have planned to extend our offer on main deck containers in 2021, adding four new configurations to our portfolio as well as new design features, such as extension of our fire resistance offer. We also have planned to go from our three current sites and to a unique new facility this year, all that to upgrade our production means and further develop our internal capacity and capabilities to better serve our customers and support our growth.