CAG on setting the benchmark in air cargo connectivity

Payload Asia talks to Jaisey Yip, general manager, cargo & logistics development, as she shares the latest on one of Asia Pacific's leading gateway.

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Changi Airport has been busy in its efforts to safeguard and enhance air cargo connectivity to bolster global trade and support the fight against the ongoing pandemic as one of Asia Pacific’s leading air hubs. The airport’s tight-knit cargo community was in full display last week as SATS and its joint venture PT Jas teamed up with Cargolux Airlines, Singapore Airlines and CEVA Logistics to organise the shipment of donated oxygen concentrators from Los Angeles to Singapore and onward to Jakarta in Indonesia. CAG’s philanthropic arm Changi Foundation donated the devices, together with over 30 other airport partners from a range of sectors including retail, engineering and construction, as well as many individual airport staff.

In an interview, Payload Asia talks to Jaisey Yip, general manager, cargo & logistics development at Changi Airport, as she discusses the airport’s latest innovations and developments in its operations, industry trends, and how the air cargo community is stepping up to ensure connectivity as one of the leading cargo gateways into Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Changi has been often described as the benchmark when it comes to air hubs in Asia Pacific. What’s your take on this? What makes a great airport?

Changi Airport Group (CAG) believes in an ecosystem way of working and collaborating with our air cargo community. We recognise that connectivity is a key enabler in global air cargo trades. Over the past year, we have worked closely with our airline partners to maintain critical air cargo connectivity and have tripled the number of cargo services since January 2020.

Aside from connectivity, raising standards and capabilities is imperative. Over the years, CAG has collaborated with our air cargo community to be at the forefront of cold chain solutions by continuously enhancing Changi Airport’s cold chain handling standards, as well as cold chain capabilities and capacity. We formed the first and largest CEIV Pharma community in Asia Pacific through the [email protected] initiative, comprising CEIV Pharma certified companies representing each node along the air cargo supply chain. More recently, CAG established the first CEIV Fresh certified community in Southeast Asia. To date, the Changi air cargo hub boasts more than 9,000sqm of temperature-controlled facilities by the cargo handlers with capacity to handle more than 375,000 tonnes per annum, providing a sub-zero environment as low as -25°C and another 30,000sqm of temperature-controlled warehouses within our Airport Free Trade Zone. With these, we provide an end-to-end temperature-controlled environment within the airport.

In addition, we work with our cargo community to ensure that Changi Airport provides the operational efficiency that global shippers are looking for, through both digital initiatives and process optimisation.

The airport had six new scheduled freighter operators onboard towards the end of last year, underlining how vital and important air cargo is not only for the carriers but also for supply chains. What would be the demand outlook towards peak season?

Our air imports and exports have remained resilient during this period, especially in sectors such as e-commerce, capital equipment and electronics. Amid strong global e-commerce and semiconductor demand, the outlook for electronics, capital equipment and e-commerce till the end of the year is anticipated to be strong.

How do you see air hubs evolving in terms of cargo operations? Can you describe how the Changi Air Cargo Community System (ACCS) helps facilitate efficient and safe transport of cargo through Singapore? Do you see this tool as particularly useful for non-scheduled cargo charter flights?

The supply chain disruptions experienced by businesses in the last two years have underscored the importance of supply chain agility and resilience. To this end, greater supply chain visibility is more important than ever, and this can be achieved only through data-sharing among the stakeholders across the air cargo supply chain which support community collaboration.

In 2020, Changi Airport introduced a community data-sharing platform—Changi Air Cargo Community System (ACCS), which is an open ecosystem of collaborative and community-based applications underpinned by an information-sharing platform that aggregates data from all parties involved in the cargo handling process. ACCS users include airlines (scheduled and non-scheduled), cargo handlers, freight forwarders, integrators and trucking companies who can all benefit from this platform and its use cases.

Among the first few use cases is the truck dock slot booking application to even out cargo lodgement and collection at our cargo handler’s air freight terminals in a safe and secure manner, thereby reducing waiting time, optimising resources and providing greater insights to airport landside activities.

Reports of airport congestion, perhaps overseas, have been related to sudden spikes in Covid-19 cases. Has Changi experienced similar incidents? What’s your take on this? 

Changi places strong emphasis on uninterrupted air cargo operations. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have implemented a series of measures to safeguard the air cargo community such as more frequent and deep cleaning of high contact areas, enhanced SOPs, facilitation of contactless processes, zoning of airport workers and additional safe distancing measures.

The aviation industry, including Changi’s air cargo community, was also prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination, and to date, over 90% of the community has been vaccinated.

What role does Changi play in terms of cross-border e-commerce throughout Asia Pacific? What would be your outlook for the region given the rate of vaccination and travel resumption globally?

According to a Google-Temasek 2020 report, Singapore’s e-commerce market is expected to grow to US$8 billion in 2025, while on a regional level, Southeast Asia is projected to have a combined total e-commerce market size of more than US$170 billion. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, more people are staying and working from home. The growth trajectory of B2C e-commerce is likely to be accelerated due to the structural change in consumer purchasing behaviour, such as a higher reliance on online shopping.

Global express integrators, such as FedEx Express, DHL Express and UPS, have continued to increase their network and connectivity at Changi throughout the pandemic period. In particular, over the past twelve months, both DHL Express and FedEx have expanded their intercontinental air connectivity to cater to the growing online demands by businesses and consumers, as well as to facilitate quick and reliable express e-commerce cargo shipments in the region.

Looking ahead, we are hopeful that with the global and our national Covid-19 vaccination programmes and effective virus containment, borders would gradually open and international passenger services resume, supporting the recovery of air connectivity and cargo capacity.

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