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   Vol. 23 No. 9

Thursday February 22, 2024


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Priya Anil Thomas

     This year the air cargo spectacle landed in Mumbai, which in ancient times just a few years ago was known as Bombay. Possibly no one thinks about Bombay all that much anymore, but why not? History, where we have all been and still are . . . in the making, always offers signposts to where we are going. Differences can be enriching, too. We shall take a look at this reunion from a different slant of light for once, if you allow us.
     As Air Cargo India wrapped last week, we were looking at the conclusion of a great show whilst thinking about India was what to do for a few days. There was the international set of air cargo together again in some numbers for the first time in 2024 and obviously everything was about Air Cargo, and how to improve services in India and abroad, but there was also another aspect that captured our attention.
     Air cargo needs all the good people it can get to survive in the future as a viable thoughtful, rich, varied and progressive industry. And nowhere in the world are there more top women involved in making big and small transportation companies in this industry successful than in India. So the many people we have covered during the past quarter century plus some others we missed come to mind whilst thinking of India air cargo. Little wonder that India females in thought and numbers set a great example for the rest of the world. No doubt the voices of women in air cargo right now are a vital influence and inspiration as the subcontinent steps off in its great leap forward in world trade.
     Air Cargo is facing challenges in its near future and all hands that are able to hold are welcome, not only in this part of the world. We look forward to more women in the air cargo business everywhere and pledge to do our part to continue the call for equality and empowerment, as a fundamental human right, also in this industry. Aside from anything else, air cargo must realize it is just stupid to overlook the value of women in 2024. We will continue telling the story, but it is up to you dear readers to get involved and say it aloud.
India is leading the way and women in large part are the reason and we hope to give you an exceptional example in the following few lines. Here is Priya Anil Thomas, a powerhouse lady who wears two hats: she is Co-founder and Managing Director of Thomas Global Logistics Private Limited and Convenor as well at Northern Region Chapter Association of Multimodal Transport Operators of India (AMTOI).
     Thomas is a veteran, with a demonstrated history of working in the logistics and supply chain industry in the country. A strong professional with a Post Graduate Diploma in Logistics Management focused on Logistics, Materials, and Supply Chain Management, she knows the business inside out. “The way forward in 2024 would comprise Data Analytics, Collaboration, Talent Development,” she said in her conversation with FlyingTypers. She believes that the volatility in the logistics sector is a never-ending phenomenon: “While pandemic nightmares are a recent experience, every now and then disruptions are being caused due to global issues,” she said and went on to list them out: the Ukraine-Russia War, the Israel-Gaza War, Red Sea Issues, global slowdown and . . . “we don’t know what next”.
     Priya Anil Thomas pointed out three priorities for 2024:
         Data Analytics for Decision-Making - Leveraging big data analytics will help in making informed decisions. Predictive analytics can be utilized to anticipate needs and improve overall reliability.
         Collaboration and Partnerships - Collaborative efforts among logistics providers, suppliers, and retailers can lead to more efficient and cost-effective supply chain solutions and partnerships with technology companies for innovative solutions and with governments for infrastructure development can be beneficial.
         Talent Development - Investing in the training and development of your team is crucial for adapting to new technologies and industry trends. Encouraging a culture of innovation and adaptability can enhance organizational resilience.
     So we learn that technology and the human side not only should walk hand in hand without fear, but this is the recipe to ensure progress. Thomas also mentioned the way business will be done: “Meeting the changing expectations of customers is crucial. Most customers,” she emphasized, “today expect miracles from the logistics service providers as some resist to accept the logistical challenges. To serve the customer we have always tried to keep ourselves up to date with the times. We have upgraded our software, enabling us to do more and more data analysis and thus predictive analysis to make informed decisions. We are already focused on regular training and development programs for our employees to ensure customer experience improvement.”
     As a woman, Thomas believes that diversity and inclusion play a huge role at the workplace: “Diversity and inclusion are increasingly recognized as critical factors for fostering a positive work environment. The logistics sector is also making efforts to promote gender diversity and inclusion. The focus of our organization is on creating a healthy multi-generational workplace. We have increased mutual learning, cross generational collaboration and created a culture which accepts both similarities and difference across age gaps.”
If you look at it from outside in, this is a good way to embed your business in the surrounding society, in harmony and respect, so typical of the Indian culture. In the logistics industry for quite some time, Priya Anil Thomas has been able to gauge the ability of the community to understand the breadth of change in world trade and commerce and the capability to quickly adapt the business model to sudden changes and the uncertain future. “The logistics Industry,” she said, “is quick in adapting to any changing situation. The industry has probably been one of the first ones to adopt technology with focus on implementing in their operations AI, Machine Learning, Block-chain, and Data Analytics, and it has focused on last mile innovation such as drones. We do not forget sustainability, putting effort and resources to reduce environmental impact with the usage of electrical vehicles, green packaging and alternative fuels. The industry is ever ready to be compliant with evolving global trade regulations and immediately adjust to changes in customs procedures and documentation requirements.”
     So this is indeed a solid programme completely entwined in robust, wise development. And, women in the cargo and logistics industry can take advantage of the opportunities created by digitization to advance their careers and make a meaningful impact in the industry, all the more if this is not in contrast with their roles in the society.
     Thomas also said: “Women can actively engage with digitization trends, develop relevant skills, and advocate for gender diversity. They should focus on skill development, networking and mentorship, choose data-driven decisions, stay informed about industry trends and foster collaboration.      Women in the logistics industry can position themselves to thrive in an increasingly digitalized environment and contribute significantly to the industry's advancement.”
     As for creating a better gender balance in the increasingly critical supply chain sector, Thomas acknowledged that it was “a difficult question to answer.
Gender balance is necessary in every workplace, not just the logistics industry. A diverse workforce can bring in the best of everyone,” she said. We all know that gender equality is not only right in point of principle: it makes complete business sense and it can be its greatest assets for future development.
     A great believer in publicly acknowledging appreciation, Thomas said that “achievements of women should be celebrated, no doubt. The men need to take a step forward and show they are ready for the inclusiveness of women in the workplace. The Air Cargo Industry can make sure that women leaders are recognized at industry events and conferences. More magazines should cover the stories of women, she added, networking opportunities for women should be created along with mentorship programs.”
     Priya Anil Thomas had a tip for air cargo honchos, too, in her conclusion: “The industry,” she said, “should conduct more programs in schools and universities about career opportunities in logistics industry and, last but not least, the government should also extend extra support to businesses run by women.”
     Talking to a woman like Priya, you feel that women in India are not worried about the imposter syndrome, which in many parts of the world is a valid discussion taking place, and rightfully so. These ladies in India do not seem to suffer from that. They are absolutely sure of what they are doing. Maybe this straightforwardness bears a connection with the many examples of matriarchal societies which for centuries existed in many parts of the Indian subcontinent?

chuckles for February 22,2024

Oman Air

     Right now central to a plan to develop itself into the here and now of the future, Oman Air Cargo has launched flights from its capitol Muscat to several new destinations across India via a newly added B737-8 freighter.
Jaffar Al Lawati     The connections and can-do of the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman are increasingly coming to the attention of smart logisticians everywhere.
     The airline, let alone its cargo division, may look like a long shot to pick up much impact, especially against the list of big time Gulf carriers in the air almost everywhere across the Middle East, but guess what?
     In 2022 Oman Air added several new destinations and introduced its innovative ‘Cargo-in-Cabin’ service to Europe, the Far East and the Indian Subcontinent. In 2023 Oman saw major increases in volumes versus 2022.
     The growth in line with more capacity of the fleet prompted the carrier to march for a freighter.
     Now Oman operates its first dedicated cargo aircraft which prompted Oman Air Vice President - Commercial Cargo, Jaffar Al Lawati to predict:
     “We are operating to the Indian Subcontinent, Africa and the Middle East and will later expand as demand increases.”
     Oman Air Cargo also took its story to the trade show circuit at last year's Air Cargo Europe 2023, held in Munich.
     “Oman’s logistics industry is an integral part of Oman’s 2040 Vision for economic development.
     “With its strategic location at the crossroads of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, state-of-the-art infrastructure at its hub, Muscat International Airport, as well as global certifications for handling and storage, including the IATA CEIV Pharma and CEIV Fresh certifications in 2021, Oman Air Cargo continues to position itself itself as a notable air cargo carrier alternative in the region and beyond.
     “Leveraging Oman’s geographical position and the state-of-the-art hub at Muscat International Airport, the carrier will help enhance the development of the Sultanate’s air cargo logistics sector. And, now with the freighter, Oman Air Cargo is able to connect destinations in the east and the West from its vantage position in Oman.”
     The Cargo chief pointed out that Oman long-term ambition is to be a key logistics hub and gateway.
     “The government has significantly invested in upgrading the infrastructure to support this mission.
     “Oman’s air cargo terminals and sea ports at Muscat, Salalah, Duqm and Sohar, all state-of-the-art, are complemented by road links which facilitate multimodal transportation.
     “Oman, rich in landmass offers extensive room for expansion.”
     Oman Air Cargo may seem like an overnight sensation but a reality check underscores, that the carrier established in 2009 has during the past 15 years acquired a reputation as a leading and growing resource in the Middle East and everywhere else.
Oman Air Freighter Launch

     Oman Air launched its maiden freighter services in early December from GMR Hyderabad International Airport, operating its first Boeing B737-800BCF connecting Hyderabad and Muscat. The freighter service operates two weekly flights. With a one-way capacity of 22 metric tons, the freighter will add an additional weekly capacity of 88 metric tons from Hyderabad Airport. This service is poised to boost the export of pharmaceuticals and hatching eggs shipments from the city.
     Oman serves as a large importer of hatching eggs from India. With this new connection, Oman Air expects a substantial surge in exports of hatching eggs from Hyderabad, leveraging the large hatchery infrastructure in the city. This new connectivity will also boost pharma exports to Oman and further to the U.S. and Europe with Muscat serving as a transshipment base. Middle East is also a major importer of fruits and vegetables. This new freighter will enhance exports of fruits and vegetables from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to the Middle East.
     With India on almost everyone's mind last week as air cargo India took place in Mumbai, brings to the fore something Jaffar Al Lawati said recently:
     “India has been an important strategic ally of Oman’s for centuries and our trade relations with the country remain strong. Oman Air has a deep routed network within India both in terms of passenger and cargo. The new freighter will reach out to some key destinations in India as we recognize the huge potential of the Indian market.”
     Muscat may not be as well as known as Dubai or Doha, but they are ready when you are.

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Vol. 23 No. 6
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