Sustainability as a KPI in Air Freight

Sustainability is gaining importance in different transport modes. For the air freight, is it essential to have a sustainability KPI as well. The best way for transformation in the sector will always come from the customers’ side, rather than the market itself. Here shippers could become one of the driving forces.

While pushing for a sustainability KPI in air freight and encouraging parties in the supply chain to publish their carbon footprints, shippers could compare different air freight trade lanes and make better choices based on a total package: cost + effectiveness + sustainability. In this way, they will streamline sustainability efforts of the air freight sector, contribute to more competition between trade lanes, and bring improvements on the carbon footprint of aviation.

Analysts are predicting Air Freight to double in the next 40 years, with new consumers accessing the market and a rapid increase in e-commerce fueling the growth. For shippers, sustainability is as important as the progress in digitisation and the development of KPIs for improving processes and management of the air freight through the dedicated IATA’s Cargo iQ group.

Aviation has announced ICAO’S Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). CORSIA includes technical and operational improvements and advances in the production and the use of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation. This means investments in technology, but most of all a pay off by investing in all sorts of nature, forestry and development programs.

A carbon tax, which is often discussed on the passengers’ side of aviation, would only increase costs and hurt the level playing field in aviation. Seen as a tool in Europe, it would never gain global acceptance. With major growth in air freight coming from non-EU countries, there is a question how much a carbon tax would reduce the carbon footprint and whether it is worth the amount of damage it would give to the EU economy.

Thus, it shows again that shippers’ involvement would be important. Air freight could exchange ideas with the maritime sector. There exist different groups like Clean Shipping Index and Biceps that are working collectively with shippers to publish carbon footprints in their tendering procedures with container liners. If the liners do not comply, they do not have to participate in a tender for the shipper.