Fall Magazine - Page 61

Michelle Williams and Jennifer L . Haigh discussed how the airlines adapted to the dramatic shifts in the airline sector and how lessons learned throughout the pandemic have changed the air cargo sector for the better .
Williams , from Southwest Cargo , talked about the changes in air cargo . “ What we were shipping in 2019 doesn ’ t look like 2020 . It doesn ’ t look like 2021 and doesn ’ t look like today ... it ’ s been a challenge , but in a good way . On the opposite side of challenge is opportunity . We looked at the challenges of the pandemic as opportunities ,” she said . She talked about how their products changed . “ There were new needs on the market especially as we saw the flight schedules go down drastically ,” she said . “ One of the immediate needs was moving US mail . We did not carry US mail [ before the pandemic ] but there was a really unique opportunity for us to help here ... Another really important product ( they began to transport ) was radiopharmaceuticals . These are … very important time-sensitive products that , if they don ’ t get to their destinations within a certain amount of time , aren ’ t viable . We were able to compliantly stand up our program because our team made it a priority .” She talked about the importance of focus that was shared by the whole team to make that happen .
Southwest Cargo also used the challenges of the last few years to upgrade their ability to “ digitally connect with our customers .” They updated their abilities to offer online booking and more advanced tracking . “ In your business you need to know when product arrives . You pay for air cargo because you need it to be there quickly and when that flight lands you need to know that ,” she said .
She concluded her remarks this way : “ We have to be prepared to constantly evolve … What we ’ re doing hasn ’ t changed . We ’ re carrying really important stuff , but how we do that has changed and will continue to change .”
Haigh , from United Cargo echoed Williams ’ sentiment about the long-term impact that adapting to the pandemic had on their airline . “ Pre-COVID we were looking at anywhere from 4200 to 5000 flights a day on United Cargo . We were super excited . We had our bellies full . We were ready to fly . All the Light Bodies even a lot of our domestic rate was flying and then the world shut down on March 13 , 2020 . On the fifteenth of March we had four flights . Our head of cargo said , ’ We ’ re going to take this as an opportunity , and we ’ re going to see what we can do .’ And within two weeks , we were able to work with the FAA and TSA to actually get what we call freight-only flights back up and running .”


Southwest also added products in response to the need . “ We were able to work with our regulator friends and be the very first airline to carry vaccines into the US ,” she said . That led to their development of two products to support life sciences transport , QuickPak and LifeGuard .
She concluded her remarks by reaching out to the audience . “ We want to start working with you guys . Tell us how we can give you guys the services you need .”
The moderator , CLDA Board Member Ralph Perrothers , concluded the session by urging attendees to update their profiles on the CLDA website to make sure they accurately reflect their airport coverages .
For more about the role of canines in air cargo security , see the story on page 32 .
FALL 2022 customized logistics & delivery Magazine 61