TIACA Executive Summit: Prepare for e-commerce or lose

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Ground handlers must change for the electronic commerce revolution and realise the power they have in negotiating with the airlines, The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) executive summit heard this week.

Cargo handlers have freight forwarders alleging long waiting times to push for customs clearence, airport layouts that cause truck congestion, IT systems that can’t speak to the airlines’ technology because the carriers’ is so old and the airports are landlords to the warehouses while having completely different financial goals.

To overcome these challenges more IT was viewed as the answer. But, there were also warnings of internet driven e-commerce bringing about a huge industry change, at the first workshop of the TIACA summit in Miami (US) on Wednesday 20 May. Strategic Aviation Solutions International’s senior executive director, Stan Wraight, tells the workshop audience that, business to customer was once the retailer to the customer through airlines, but the future is from the manufacturer to the buyer through integrators. “Why are you worried about a three hour freight forwarder delay, with the e-commerce threat,” he says.

Wraight also tells the audience, which has many handling companies, that their warehouse systems are designed to work with airlines, but the future is not how the airlines work, its how e-commerce works.

In Wraight’s view, the airlines have outsourced handling and that gives handling companies a negotiating advantage. Other workshop participants pointed to a lack of IT investment, electronic data interchange using different languages, a need for a common data platform using datacentre storage and corporate data security worries that deter companies.