Singapore Airlines (SIA) Cargo is urging the industry to catch up with digitalization, as it also embarks on its own transformation.

Speaking at the IATA World Cargo Symposium 2019 in Singapore, SIA SVP-cargo, Chin Yau Seng said the air cargo industry is very siloed and must “shift many gears up” to digitize itself, or risk falling behind the new generation work force, consumers and shippers.

“Our processes would be too alien to the new generation who are so exposed to digital processes, and it will be shooting ourselves on the foot,” he said. “We have to invest in new capabilities and cannot afford to flat out, as the consumers and shippers will not wait for us.”

Since fully integrating back into the SIA Group on April 1, 2018, the cargo arm has greater influence in acquiring IT systems, and benefiting from a single API layer, thus enhancing synergy. Some of its digitalization initiatives include tapping on the e-commence sector and facilitating data flow. Its priority for 2019 is to revamp its e-backbone system, which will be carried out in stages over a few years.

SIA Cargo is promoting its ThruCool pharmaceutical shipment service, with guarantees unbroken cold chain service from Zurich to Sydney. The service will be expanded to selected European and Australian airports, and other airports in the network with reliable cold chain services.

He said the Pharma.Aero alliance is now pioneering a blockchain technology among the members and SIA is one of the participants to ensure smooth data flow across all stakeholders in the supply chain.

Other than active cooling containers, SIA is offering passive containers with insulated thermal blankets for other cargo that need certain degree of insulation.

The airline also certified data loggers for its fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, enabling shippers to receive data for underbelly cargo, a first in the region. 

Chin said its fleet of seven Boeing 747-400 freighters are still operating efficiency as long as the fuel prices remain low.

“When we downsized the freighter fleet to seven 747Fs in 2017, we could have phased them all out, but we didn’t,” Chin said. “We recognized its importance to our business along with the synergy with our underbelly network. Our volumes have since grown and optimally we might need more than seven aircraft, and when the time comes to renew the fleet we will have to look at how many we need again.”

Chen Chuanren,