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“We, as an industry, prefer to complain about the challenges, such as the fragmented supply chain, complexity and prices, over and over again and hide behind them,” says Sara Van Gelder, cargo and logistics development manager for Brussels Airport.

Air cargo – and in fact, many parts of the logistics industry – has been slow to embrace innovation. As Ms Van Gelder notes, there are plenty of excuses.

What innovation there has been has tended to be in small pockets, driven by a particular company or, often, a particular individual.

In the first of a series of LongReads on innovation, The Loadstar looks at a few examples of change in air cargo.

The TAC Index – and the possibilities that could emerge from it – could change air freight buying for ever. It introduces the element of index-linked contracts, mitigating some of the risk of price volatility for buyers, and offering more predictable freight rates.

Perhaps even more significantly, it could ultimately bring the world of financiers closer to the air cargo industry – which could also have big ramifications – in investment, commoditsation and future processes.

Technology is simply an ennabler of innovation, and it is technology that could plug the gap between the fragmented air cargo industry and the integrators. One company is looking to an Airbnb-style use of capacity; facilitating business, bringing an end to fragmentation and allowing air cargo to offer as seamless and as quality a product as the integrators.

This first innovation article also looks at data-sharing, quality processes and intuitive websites.

And, of course, it explores why air cargo has been slow to pick up the innovative mantle.

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