ever there is a perfect storm, this is it! The Covid-19 pandemic makes
every other crisis that we called a perfect storm during that time (e.g.
2008/09 market crash etc.), look like a walk in the park.
Having gone thru our own share of wars,
market crashes, epidemics and pandemics, even though this time around
the air cargo industry came into its own to support the world, I am quite
happy to sit this one out and watch it all playing out from a gallery
Life Without A Plan
I am sure every business/company always
has a contingency/business continuity plan. But none of those plans would
have made provision for a situation where the entire world comes to a
So with the best will in the world, no country
or business would have had a plan for the 2020 global pandemic.
Everybody Is Caught Short
It is very evident that world governments
seem to have been caught short on anything and everything!
We all know and lived through the globalization
process and have seen manufacturing and supply chain operations being
One Country Sourcing Big Disaster
However, this pandemic has exposed how the
aforementioned optimization has ended up in reliance on one single country
(China) and while this was happening, how this country has also managed
to get in within the various economies and were yielding firm control
on world trade.
It has virtually pulled off the blanket
and exposed how naked the world economy was underneath.
The Shape We Are In
We were already reeling from the effects
of the various trade wars and geo-political activities that were putting
undue stress on world trade.
The global village right now is also seeing
the best and worst in leadership in dealing with and containing the pandemic;
in some cases, self-inflicted addition to the woes that the world is already
going thru and putting more pressure on already strained front liners
who are helping to contain this pandemic.
Aviation Got Clobbered
Face it, the aviation industry, by far,
is one of the worst impacted by COVID-19. Though a lot of the governments
have come out supporting it, the uncertainty of the borders opening up
to regular travel and trade, has created fresh agony as cash reserves/funding
are drying out.
The airlines who had a strong cargo product
have fared much better than others who had not invested in cargo.
The fact remains that, outside of an economic
downturn, cargo has to fly to support any kind of crisis anywhere in the
Can You Hear Us Now?
It is a very loud message we send to all
in the commercial airlines that a strong cargo operation is a very strong
pillar of any airline business.
The passenger side of the business is likely
to take 2-4 years for a full recovery.
Cargo revenue, therefore will be very critical
to the sustainability of any airline.
Hope of New Technologies
In situations like this when the world is
in a lock down mode, the evolving technologies play a very important role.
We are very fortunate that this has happened
at a time that the world is already quite well into digitization that
has allowed remote working keeping the wheels of large numbers of businesses
Physical contacts have been replaced with
virtual online contacts/meetings.
The air cargo industry has been very slow
to embrace digitization and is now playing catch up.
Time To Reset & Reboot
Situations like this should be looked at
as an opportunity to reset and reboot the business. It allows one to discard
old inefficient ways of working and embrace the new paradigm where the
old rules don’t apply and the new rules are not written. Embracing
the change has got to be the top priority.
What We Did In 2008
My team at EK SkyCargo embraced big change
during the global financial crises of 2008-10 period and had excellent
outcome that allowed us to completely digitize, resulting in increased
productivity and optimized efficiencies bringing our unit costs down.
WFH (working from home) has become an operative
Remote working facilities have been available
for quite some time, but it has taken a pandemic to establish the value
of working remotely and actually putting it into practice.
Companies are also realizing that it adds
value to their business in terms of lowering cost of real estate by allowing
employees to work from home and also improved employee productivity.
Employees are also finding that they tend
to get a lot done with flexi timings, while improving their life on the
Less traffic on the roads also benefits
The Human Connections
Remote communications/working are great,
however, this should not take the warmth away from human interaction,
which is critical to building relationship.
So, we will all need to create a new hybrid
norm which will have a balance between human and remote interaction.
Less Retiring Than Expected
As a retiree I have found that this pandemic
has allowed me to create SFH (socializing from home) as a norm. The advantageous
part of it is, that with the lockdown, most people were home and had plenty
of time for interaction. So virtual get together with friends around the
world has become quite a norm enhancing social connectivity. To sit at
home with a glass of adult beverage and talk to friends and family in
various parts of the world at the same time also brings people closer
to each other, especially in a world where people tend to be too busy
and scheduling a physical meeting/come together is very challenging.
I have now been able to establish connection
and rekindle friendship with folks that I have not had any contact with
for several decades.
Look For The Silver Lining
I have caught up with folks going back to
my school/college days.
So, this situation has given us so many
possibilities to enhance the quality of our work-life environment as well
as business efficiencies.
Most businesses and households are now burdened
with higher costs/loss of income, piling up debts, so it is very imperative
that we look to reducing our costs through the use of available technology
of today and tomorrow.
There has been a lot of human loss and pain
and there will be a lot of pain in the short term, but there is also a
bright future we can all look to ahead.
Like it or not, there has been a reset and
reboot situation in all aspects of our lives. Going forward, we must unload
the baggage of yesterday so that the new norm
can be embraced and fully developed, as has always been our tradition
in air cargo.