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How Unstandardized Air Cargo Traffic Might Create Unsustainable Industry

by ADHITYA RIMBA | 14 August 2021, 17:06 WIB | TASS | ICAO

How a fully air cargo aircraft would neglect passenger (source: https://russiabusinesstoday.com/infrastructure/more-than-379000-tonnes-of-cargo-and-mail-handled-at-sheremetyevo-in-2019/)

ICAO, August 14th, 2021. Editorial by Maria Khrenova/TASS/. During the ICAO conference, there have been many talks regarding the transition to Air Cargo to recover the aviation economy from the brink of crisis during the pandemic. However, the implementation of air cargo in every country might prove unsustainable and create a much bigger problem in the long run.

During the pandemic, many airline companies chose to shift from passenger-based air traffic to air cargo traffic due to an unreasonable decline of revenue coming from passengers. By removing passenger seats and creating spaces for carriages, airlines can receive much more incentives with fewer passengers.

On 14th August 2021, the ICAO held a conference with several countries present. During the conference, Brazil started the discussion of air cargo sustainability. It is stated to cover the economic and financial aspects of the aviation industry during the pandemic. Many countries supported the statement, such as Ukraine and the UK. They also added the use of a digitalized approach to improving the filing system on cargo.

Although it seems like a good idea, focusing air traffic on air cargo demonstrates unsustainability in the aviation industry, especially for post-pandemic situations.

To begin with, moving the aviation industry's focus to air cargo traffic would take an immense amount of time and process. Retracting logistics from air crafts that were specifically made for passengers into air cargo costs a lot of money.

It is also hypocritical for ICAO to implement this to member states since not all countries have high capability on air cargo. It is against the will of ICAO, which is “Not to leave any country behind”. In addition, the focus on air cargo traffic might only be beneficial during the pandemic. It won’t be sustainable for a post-pandemic situation, notably where people will travel more, yet there is less space for people in aircraft.

The Russian Federation has taken the right decision to put aside the need of prioritizing air cargo traffic and focus on how we can improve the health corridor of the people in aviation. Although Russia is not against the transition to air cargo, there has been no standard on air cargo practice in the industry, and it might put aside the people’s need to travel.

Alternatively, the Russian Federation proposed a combi-aircraft that consists of air cargo as well as passengers. By not fully transforming to air cargo airlines, it can create a maximum profit for the airlines by receiving cargo and passengers simultaneously. That way, airlines do not need to take as much process to shift their aircraft while maintaining the needs of their people. “We need to consider rural areas and poorer countries. It is hypocritical to talk about this without any consideration. We can make it sustainable by combining it and making it last past the pandemic”, stated by the Russian Federation.

Without putting the health aspect aside, improving the aviation healthcare sector while establishing a resilient system of cargo-passenger on air traffic might be the way of sustainable aviation. Considering people, economic, and environmental aspects together, ICAO should cater for the needs of all the member states to sustain the aviation industry during and post-pandemic.

Jakarta International MUN 2021