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Blockchain technology could save the air cargo industry $400 million per year

Businesses around the world are trying to manage the disruption caused by COVID-19. All types of business have been affected, from companies listed on stock markets that have seen their market valuation drop (Royal Caribbean's share price has dropped from $111 to $30 in the past month) to local restaurants and cafes that have been ordered to close down temporarily or restrict their services to deliveries.

Businesses are having to consider their financial standing and how they operate in the short term. Many businesses have closed their physical offices or premises and have asked their employees to work from home or take upaid leave as they attempt to streamline their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Virgin Atlantic have cut their flight schedule by 80% and asked their staff to take 8 weeks unpaid leave

The aerospace industry is one of the industries suffering the most from the COVID-19 outbreak as countries such as the USA, Italy and Spain begin to lock down their borders and movement of persons within their country. This may have long-term effects on the industry and it is already being reported that the industry is seeking a $50billion bailout in the form of direct aid and loan guarantees.

At the same time it is not a surprise to see stakeholders in the aerospace industry exploring the implementation of new technologies as they strive to make their business operations more efficient in terms of time and costs. Boeing are already trialling the use of blockchain to sell spare parts.

Now Sita, an air transport communications and information tech company, and ULD Care, a trade association, are exploring the possibility of using blockchain technology to save $400M a year in the air cargo industry. Blockchain technology allows air cargo companies to digitally track and record the change of custody for airline cargo containers, or Unit Load Devices (ULDs), as they journey between destinations. These companies aim to bring down industry costs, improve efficiency, drive fewer losses, and prevent damage to cargo.

It remains to be seen whether COVID-19 may act as catalyst and accelerate the rate at which industries adopt new technologies.

Bob Rogers, vice president and treasurer of ULD Care, said: “A container travelling from Shanghai to Long Beach could take up to 30 days to finish its journey, but the true travel time on sea or road is only around 15 days, with the remaining time spent on back-office and paperwork. The use of blockchain could revolutionize that process.”

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