Satish Lakkaraju, Chief Commercial Officer, Agility India

We have already seen a severe impact on the global supply chain caused by COVID-19. All major airlines, shipping lines and LSPs have seen a major hit in the demand for their services. Majority of airlines have stopped / curtailed passenger flights and are only running freighters or converting passenger aircrafts to meet the demand for cargo space. Shipping lines are cancelling services or running smaller vessels, as they have seen shortage of demand. In India, during the lockdown we are seeing difficulty in movement of cargo due to non-availability of vehicles. We are already seeing some of the airlines are cutting jobs, salaries and even one of the airlines has declared Bankruptcy to start. The shipping lines have already been suffering for quite some time with low freight rates and now are having to do bland sailings as they cannot get the volumes to move.

As far as the interstate movement of goods is concerned, there has been a drastic fall in the number of trucks on the roads. We have seen instances of drivers abandoning the trucks in the middle of the journey and disappearing. The situation has improved in the last few days, the state governments have started prioritizing and allowing goods movements meant critical shipments.

Short term impact on the global economy will be severe. Global trade is surely going to change in the coming days, countries will prioritize the movement of essential items like foodstuff, medicines, medical equipment’s, etc. in the coming day while movement for non-essential commodities and luxury items will be given second priority. In the near term IMF is predicting a global recession with only China and India expected to grow. The current trends clearly indicate that there will not be growth in some countries and they are looking at negative growth rates and in respect to India it will be difficult to do a forecast and it will depend on the support the government gives to the industry. 

In this situation, Agility has responded quite well and we have not stopped operations after lockdown for our long standing customers with whom we have partnership and at this point of time it is difficult to give a long term strategy as things are changing constantly.

Agility has always worked with the motto of Patient safety is priority, long before the COVID-19 outbreak we have been working with customers in developing solutions which can ensure an unbroken cold chain for critical pharma shipments. During the current pandemic we have been working with many of our existing and new customers to ensure that the critical shipments reach their destinations on priority. We have been ably supported by the airlines, airports, shipping lines, ports and our transport partners who have all upped their game to live up the challenge.

Planning by any LSP is dependent on the customer they are serving. If the customer has taken a bolder shipment planning approach with proper planning and schedule, the LSP can serve them with more options and better pricing opportunities. We have customers for whom we manage a full supply chain, they have seen the benefits of our integrated supply chain solutions including cost benefits due to better planning and availability of cargo. Technology can enable better demand planning, smoother supply chain for the customers.