“Although the threat presented by
the virus and the potential near and long-term implications for air cargo
and airports are still largely undetermined, if the disease proceeds
along the course predicted by health experts, the aviation industry needs
to consider several potential impacts,” said Dan Muscatello, long
time air cargo airport executive.
For 40 years, Dan has been one of the industry’s
leading experts in air cargo, land use, and strategic planning. He’s
just about seen it all. Looking over the current airport situation around
the world, Dan spoke to FlyingTypers in an exclusive interview.
Dan The Man
Dan was one of the founding members of the
Air Cargo Committee (then Sub-Committee) in 1990-1991. He has remained
active and a leader with the Committee since then.
He is currently co-writing as well as editing
the Air Cargo Guide, the original version of which he helped create in
No Two Airports Alike
“Not every airport will be affected
the same way, but a great many airports will see some changes and should
be prepared to address them.
“Passenger load factors will drop
both domestically and internationally, opening up belly capacity that
airlines will look to fill with cargo whenever possible to help cover
“Some domestic flights with marginal
financial feasibility may be suspended. Internationally, we are already
seeing the cancellation of passenger flights to a number of virus-impacted
destinations, which shifts greater volumes to freighters.
“The changes to routing and volumes
on international flights may have an impact on staffing capability and
shift coverage for government agencies.”
Dan & Bran
“Recently Brandon Fried, Executive
Director of the Airforwarders Association and I discussed how forwarders
might be impacted and how they are responding to the growing crisis.
“Changes in routing will be inevitable
as the industry seeks creative solutions, but the emergence of these new
or expanded transshipment centers may create price increases based on
“It may also be the case that these
new centers change as the virus proliferates and/or the industry devises
more efficient and cost-effective logistics chains.
Airports & Changing Landscape
“Moving forward, retail buying patterns
will shift even further away from brick and mortar as consumers shy away
from malls and turn to e-commerce for a much broader array of products.
“For airports, this can create a number
of capacity issues over the near term.
“Facilities that have been sized and
developed based on traditional cargo forecasts, may prove to be challenged
with an unanticipated influx of volumes.
“E-commerce is about trucking as much
as it is about aircraft.
“Airports will need to ensure that
there is adequate roadway and queuing capacity, as well as bay access
to keep things flowing smoothly.
“The increase in freighter activity,
particularly at e-commerce focused and international airports will also
present challenges for aircraft ramp utilization.
“Many of the capacity issues can be
addressed through more effective management and communications, but for
some airports new infrastructure may be required.
Pressure on Airports After The
“Overall,” Dan Muscatello predicts,
“in many instances, during 2020 airport revenues will fall.
“Reduced revenues from landing fees,
PFC’s, fuel flowage fees, as well as parking and retail sales in
the terminals will more than likely decline.
“Depending on potential changes to
cargo routings, airport percentages on cargo handling fees may drop as
“The result will be additional pressure
on many airports to develop new sources of revenue to compensate for the
The New Reality
“One thing I learned in my years spent
in New York, is to respect what I call the ‘subway strike phenomenon.’
“In the event of a strike and the
resultant loss of a major transportation element, commuters adapted to
cars, buses, ferries, and any other mode that worked to ensure that business
“When the strike was settled, there
was always a percentage of people who determined that they would not go
back to the subway and stuck with their new transport mode.
“The longer the virus disrupts the
air cargo industry, the greater the propensity will be for at least some
permanent change that will be beneficial for some airports and regions,
and less so for others.
“In any event, it appears as though
2020 will be a year of challenges and change,” Dan Muscatello assures.
After heading cargo operations for the Port
Authority of NY and NJ, Dan Muscatello worked as a private developer of
air cargo facilities, overseeing the planning and coordination of multi-firm
consulting teams on large-scale domestic and international projects.
In total, he has planned more than 20 million
square feet of air cargo facilities at airports all over the world, including
large air logistics parks for major gateway airports.
Dan now heads his own company where he continues
his work in cargo and land use development, strategically integrating
on and off airport planning to help airports grow revenue and regional
jobs through new and dynamic business models.