The Air Cargo Germany (ACD) in its monthly meeting on 13. May presented two very interesting speakers from other European sister organizations.
Peter Somaglia, President of IGAirCargo (IGAC), Switzerland and Ferry van der Ent, Director Special Programs, Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN) showed those ACD members present how they run their “air cargo clubs” in both countries.
They were very interesting presentations and can surely also be “food for thought” for ACD members who will attend the club’s special general meeting which has been called for 10 June in FRA.
Winfried Hartmann, ACD’s President, has requested that as many members as possible attend this meeting on 10. June as he states that it will determine the role of the ACD in the future. He and
his “team” plan to present member with progress made to date and their views on the future planning for the ACD.
Therefore, it would be beneficial to all if members were to attend and also voice their views.
But, back to ACN and IGAC.
A “view outside of the box,” or “how others do it,” was more or less the theme of both speakers.
Pulling things together
Peter Somaglia gave his insight on the Swiss Air Cargo Club, or as it’s officially called, “Interest Group Air Cargo Switzerland,” in a detailed and precise manner.
The Swiss airfreight community’s vision is simple – “pulling together for airfreight.”
Their mission centers around three so called Pro’s - Promotion, Processes and Professionalism. All with the aim of strengthening the position of the air cargo industry in Switzerland, a better infrastructure through coordination with national and international organizations and a close network to ensure a better exchange of ideas and views for the Swiss airfreight community.
IGAC which is split into three regional groups, Zurich, Geneva and Basle, has a total of 100 members made up from airfreight agents, airlines, shippers, truckers and GSA’s etc.
It is interesting to note that the “club” has various sponsors ranging from the Swiss national carrier to the airports and handlers.
IGAC is an official organization according to Swiss law and has two local sections in Zurich and Geneva who tackle issues and problems individually in each area. Basle has since many years its own IG Cargo but works closely together with the national IGAC Swiss organization.
Activities are managed on both a national and local level and the result is that the IGAC has a dual management made up of President and boards on national and on three local levels.
On paper, it looks complicated, but according to Peter, it works well and the coordination and cooperation between all three sections is optimal.
IGAC bodies meet generally no more than 3-4 times per year in their relevant areas. Alongside this there are round table discussions, where individual subjects are presented and worked through by those attending.
They are proud of the fact that the IGAC has a close cooperation and support with associated companies who are related to the air cargo industry as this in Peter’s words “is very important for a strong and collective standing together when needed to present and push through common interests.”
Cargo is a strong economic pillar
Switzerland is geographically not the largest of European countries, but the importance of airfreight is seen as being one of the pillars for a strong Swiss economy.
Peter’s presentation showed that measured by its value 43% of all exports from Switzerland, as well as 20% of imports, move by airfreight. This, although only 1% of weight volume. This shows how important air freight transportation with its high-value shipments is to the Swiss export industry.
The majority of this cargo moves in the holds of passenger aircraft and the importance of a smooth and “top secure” handling is of utmost priority.
“Promotion” activities range from participation at various trade shows on a national and international level as well as publication of airfreight brochures for the Swiss public and government administrative bodies which are meant to lead to a better understanding among the population with regards to the importance of airfreight.
“Processes” are geared towards the coordination and implementation of e-freight within Switzerland, alongside schooling and lead in courses for new employees among the companies working in the air freight scene.
“Professionality” has always been a Swiss “must.” The IGAC contributes to this by means of its involvement in the “Air Cargo Days Switzerland,” which is held every two years. The upcoming event on 26th June this year is expected to be again well attended.
Apart from this, regular round table discussions and workshops coupled with grill party evenings are held with the purpose of expanding on relevant issues at hand.
It is interesting to note that the contact and cooperation between IGAC and customs, airport and regulatory bodies is widespread and leads to a better common understanding or each other’s problems.
The Swiss IGAC apparently shows what results can be reached when “all pull together.”
Voice of the industry
Ferry van der Ent, ACN’s leading man also showed the audience what “pulling together” means for the Dutch airfreight industry.
Ferry, who has been seconded to ACN for a three year period from his official employer. Schiphol Airport, gave an insight into how his organization is actively pursuing the goal of increasing Schiphol’s market share.
He probably has a somewhat easier job compared to his German and Swiss colleagues, seeing that Amsterdam Schiphol is the only real player in the Netherlands with regards to airfreight movements.
However, the coordination and cooperation between all involved in the “supply chain,” is quite impressive to say the least.
ACN likes to see itself as “the voice of the industry” in the Netherlands.
SPL intends to hold its position as number 4 airport in Europe despite increased competition from outside, Ferry states.
He puts his airport’s success down to a mixture of important aspects such as Efficiency / Security / Balanced Flows / Air-Landside Capacity and Steady Demand.
This is why the ACN and its members continue to pursue keeping the above aspects as the driving force for the airport.
ACN, as its sisters in FRA and ZRH has a membership made up out of shippers, agents, airlines, handlers and regulatory bodies such as customs and police departments.
A constant dialogue between all of these has ensured that progress has been made quite quickly and without unnecessary hurdles regarding the planning and implementation of airport processes.
Impressive spending budget
The ACN Board is made up of a total of 12 members. This means 2 representatives from each sector, whereby the airport (only being SPL) has one.
Maybe one of the organizations reasons for success and fast action lies in the fact that they have a total of six full time employees, whose job is to support and push changes and decisions made by the steering committee, thereby releasing much of the workload from them.
Funding does not seem to be a problem at all for ACN, whose annual spending budget amounts to €1.1m.
An impressive sum, considering the ACN also has around 250 members on their books.
Ferry explained that “contributions” from carriers and other more financially sound members are higher than those paid by smaller members and that of course staff costs for FTE’s also takes quite a chunk out of this.
A fair agreement, if the money is used in a positive way - which it seems it is!
ACN has positioned itself as an indispensable organization within the SPL airport structure and is proud of the fact that their success depends on what they call “chain performance.”
This involves also a considerable amount of round table discussions with the aim of, where possible, trying to bring all parties to a common consensus.
In other words, as their colleagues in Switzerland, “pulling together.”
It all started with a drink
In a lighter closing note, Ferry explained that it all started years ago with a Friday evening drink (borrel) among a few carriers. This led to a steady interest by others and their recognition that if SPL were to become a top player in the airfreight business, then the need was there for all parties to be involved and act together.
Seems so far to be paying off!
The German ACD members’ only meeting called for 10. June with the purpose of collectively looking at how the ACD can move in a new direction in the future and have a stronger voice in the German air freight scene, can surely refer to some of the aspects shown by their colleagues in the Netherlands and Switzerland.
This is an important milestone for the ACD and therefore, as Winfried Hartmann says, it would be of benefit to all if as many as possible show up and contribute to the discussion.
John Mc Donagh