Exclusive – TIACA puts multimodality on its agenda

From 19-21JUN24, TIACA is hosting its first regional conference in Central Asia – in this case in Astana, Kazakhstan. Due to the economic upswing in the entire region, alongside rail and road, air freight, too, is playing an increasingly important role in the transcontinental movement of goods. In the run-up to the event, CargoForwarder Global (CFG) spoke to Glyn Hughes (GH), Director General, TIACA, about the importance of the regional conference and whether the topic of multimodal logistics should also be given greater prominence within his organization.

Glyn Hughes and TIACA will broaden their range of topics and give greater consideration to multimodal transportation – photo: courtesy TIACA

CFG: Glyn, thanks to the regional conferences introduced by TIACA a while ago, Central Asia is now moving into the thematic focus. Better late than never?

GH: Indeed, this is our 5th regional event and we have found each one extremely valuable in helping us understand the unique issues and challenges being faced by the different regions. Kazakhstan and the Central Asia region is seeking to develop its non-oil and natural resource-based economy and, in order to be successful, they have identified the need to create a stronger focus on air cargo and logistics and subsequently the establishment of air cargo hubs.

CFG: As you indicate, this change of development priorities leads to new supply chains. What role does air freight play in this situation?

GH: As mentioned above, the region has a great vision and plan for economic growth. With a population of nearly 80 million and an economy which has grown over the last two decades at an average rate more than 6.2%, the Central Asian states are ideally positioned to enhance their non-oil and gas and natural resource-based economy. With highly rated educational and literacy assessments and a low unit workforce costing 40% less than China, the region actively seeks foreign direct investment. With Special Economic Zones and Industrial Zones, governments have introduced Investment Contracts to create attractive incentives for foreign companies to establish themselves in the region.

With planned economic expansion, enabling access to global markets is crucial for economic success. The region already has well developed rail-based links between Far Asia and Europe, but air-based logistics will need to develop significantly to create vital fast, efficient and effective air cargo connections to support today’s high value cargo.

CFG: Multimodality is immensely important for Kazakhstan and the neighboring landlocked countries. Does this also require an extension of topics covered by TIACA?

GH: Yes. 70% of the land-based transit cargo between China and Europe passes through the Kazakhstan Rail network, and the Western Europe – Western China Transcontinental Auto Expressway provides another vital connection. And even though Kazakhstan is landlocked, there is an active port at Aktau to support trans-Caspian Sea transits, ensuring land-based connectivity is viable. As to air cargo, there are 24 airports in Kazakhstan providing global connectivity, although freighter connectivity has quite an opportunity for growth. TIACA will look forward to increasing our activity in multi modal logistics.

CFG: When looking at the conference program, which three thematic highlights stand out from TIACA’s point of view – and why?

GH: I would say the three key areas for me will be 1) looking at what it means to create a world class air cargo hub – and we have some great experts in this area to look at what Kazakhstan needs to do next. This will also incorporate focus on industry trends and digitalization. 2) We will also look at the regulatory aspects, as efficient and effective air cargo movements and hubs must ensure that regulations addressing safety, security and compliance are practicable and effective. And 3) the role that e-commerce can play in regional growth. With a growing population with increasing GDP per capita, the region presents an opportunity for transit as well as O/D cargo. Supporting all of this will be sessions looking at how the industry is currently performing and how sustainability will feature into future growth, including how Kazakhstan can play an increasing role in the global need for sustainable aviation fuel.

CFG: TIACA and some Kazakh airports will sign Memorandums of Understanding. What does this step mean for the practical work of your organization?

GH: Firstly, we are very honored that so many organizations specifically proposed signing MoUs with TIACA, as it re-enforces that TIACA is the leading global voice representing the entire air cargo industry. It also supports the Board objective to increase our specific understanding and support for all regions.

CFG: And lastly: are there plans to involve representatives of Central Asian airlines and their cargo divisions in the TIACA committees, to give the region a strong voice within your club?

GH: Over recent years, TIACA’s membership has continued to grow and it is critical that all regions and all industry sectors are represented within the Board and within overall TIACA activity. We have an open approach to Board seats and invite all Trustee representatives to consider nominating themselves when vacancies arise.

CFG: Glyn, thank you this interview.



  1. Multimodal a vital link to greater efficient logistics, TIACA congratulations also Very well covered by .CFG.
    I also happened to attend this TIACA conference..every session was so informative and an experience to know about the khazakastan readiness to be next cargo hub in the region…


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