Legal background is EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, i.e. to make the Baltic Sea Region an accessible and attractive place, and to improve internal and external transport links (p 49). Transport issues are especially important for BSR since the distances internally and to the rest of Europe are very long and the conditions for traffic are difficult. In the times of economic slowdown, the pace of change in the transport sector is increasing.
Project addresses to:
- Structural challenges: Regional airports act isolated without a clear picture of current situation on the international air cargo market and its future perspectives. In times, when regional industrial landscape is rapidly changing, conventional transport services are not able to fulfil new needs of logistics.
- ICT challenges: Absence of the common ICT infrastructure prevents growth of air cargo flights in the regional airports and causes a stagnant economic, airport and hinterland development.
- Political challenges: Air-cargo process' players act isolated. Each region (airport & hinterland) has its own strategies, recourses, infrastructure, state of knowledge, economic & boundary conditions.
Co-operation between regional authorities with airports lack behind possibilities. Project aims at enhancing operating environment in air cargo sector by:
- Providing airport regions complex measures that accommodate the demand for air transport in an optimal way that attains more sustainable air cargo development, whilst maximizing economic benefits.
- Increasing capacity of regional airports by improving usability, functionality and accessibility of the ICT network in the air-cargo sector.
- Increasing interoperability of political and content transport related networks, through exploring and integrating of the air cargo issues in agenda of common transport strategy of the BSR; enhancing political collaboration among regional airports and airfreight players.
Project partnership developed following working plan to solve identified challenges:
- WP3 – will provide a complex analysis of the current situation on airfreight transport market in the BSR, associated infrastructural and operational needs of the regional airports, their prospects for future development and their possible role in the global network of air cargo supply chain.
- WP4 – will develop and implement innovative air cargo transport information system in / between the participating project regions (airport, hinterland).
- WP5 - will explore the air cargo market through pilot business actions with a focus on regional development.
Air cargo issues had been neither properly investigated already in finished projects nor have been included in the running logistic projects. Therefore, Baltic.Aircargo.Net will secure relevance of the project activities with transport development strategies through cooperation with transport related initiatives on regional, Pan-Baltic and European level.
Air cargo plays an important role in the global economy. About 5 trillion USD in goods are transported annually worldwide. However, the airline industry, including also air cargo sector continue to suffer some downfalls. The past two years (2011 and 2012) have been hard on the carriers and partners as they have seen a two percent decrease in yields and air cargo demand. it is questionable how good a business an increasing air cargo amount will be for the regional airports, when looking at the investments required compared to the relatively small number of operations and tonnage. It might be stated that in order to improve performance of the air cargo sector, the entire supply chain must come together and increase the competition by modernizing, increasing air cargo supply chain security, ensuring compliance with dangerous goods regulations and environmental sustainability within the industry. It may be stated that today the most regional airports in the BSR are primarily served by low cost carriers that can not carry belly cargo due to short turnaround times, and the main carriers operating in these airports are using aircraft types with a very limited space for belly cargo. Therefore, the starting air cargo operation in regional airports may still be expected to be Road Feeder Services or so called “flying trucks” coming from/to the major hubs. Air cargo ICT platform embodied by Baltic.Air.Cargo.Net project aims at joining the global efforts in its role of facilitation and cost optimising of air cargo transport. It is well recognized that providing transparency, real-time advance of logistic operations and performance analysis feedback significantly contributes to air cargo and general demand growth benefiting Baltic Sea Region countries as well as the global economy. Air cargo market demand in the Baltic Sea Region has good prospects, suggested by BACN econometric modelling and confirmed by the headlines of 2013. The air cargo traffic in the BSR might be also improved if a concentrated, coordinated and collaborative effort in managing the commodity and passenger flows through the main cargo hubs is secured. It might be further recommended developing belly cargo in addition to regular passenger traffic as feeder traffic into the main hubs, which could then be subsidized through a PSO framework in initial stages of development. Targeted incentive programs e.g. focusing on airport landing charges might be useful as it is the case in Poland, which has growth and bonus schemes as part of the airport charges manuals.