Schiphol’s Air Cargo Debate calls for a stage director for the air cargo process

How to pinch off 48 hours from the air cargo process was the key topic of the recent ‘Air Cargo Debate’ organised by the Dutch leading transport paper Nieuwsblad Transport, Air Cargo Netherlands and the Dutch shippers’ council EVO.

Panelists Alexander Hemler of Canon, Bart de Vries, DHL GF and Peter Scholten, Saudia Cargo, exchanged views at the AMS-held panel (l > r)  /  source: ms
Panelists Alexander Hemler of Canon, Bart de Vries, DHL GF and Peter Scholten, Saudia Cargo, exchanged views at the AMS-held panel (l > r) / source: ms

The debaters were Alexander Hemler, director of European Transport at Canon Inc., Bart de Vries , Head of Airfreight DHL Global Forwarding EMEA and Peter Scholten, VP Commercial Saudia Cargo. As an opening remark Hemler confessed to the fact that Canon only ships 1% of its volume by air and all the rest by sea, so that 48 hours more or less are not of major importance. “But as shippers we do not want to be confronted by any other problem apart from making and selling our products”, he said. “All we ask for is efficiency. Transport related problems are for the freight forwarder to solve.”

Bart de Vries asked for some consideration for the complexity of the freight forwarding business. “We may have the most general view of the chain, but forwarding is also a cost-driven industry, which involves efficient truck runs.”

Peter Scholten  /  source: Saudia Cargo
Peter Scholten / source: Saudia Cargo

Saudia loses two top executives
If the average air cargo process is to become 48 hours faster, it will not be achieved by cutting the actual flying time, said Peter Scholten. “You can’t take 48 hours out of 24! There are a lot of others factors involved in making the process such a lengthy one. Why must cargo be delivered 72 hours before take-off?  Why is so much freight not collected immediately?”, Peter asked.

Stage directors needed
One of the recurrent remarks made by the inter-acting members of the audience was that the process may need some kind of ‘stage director’, a specific task for which most fingers pointed to the freight forwarders. Another suggestion for the part was the cargo community systems such as Schiphol’s Cargonaut. To this, Bart de Vries reacted by saying that these systems may not work with the same efficiency at destination. He also cast the ball back to the airlines be stating that sometimes the cargo offer is larger than the aircraft can accommodate.

AMS is the world capital of cut flowers
Before the actual discussion round took off, Lidewijde Ongering, director-general Mobility at the Dutch Ministry of Transport, delivered the key note address. The ministry and its administration have been active supporters of the logistics and air cargo industry for years. An intensive policy of regular ‘air cargo tables’ has allowed the industry to find solutions for acute problems threatening to hamper the further development of Schiphol Airport as a major European gateway.
In Ms Ongering’s own words Schiphol owes a lot to its offer of over 300 global destinations, its strong home carrier, more than 20 all-cargo carriers and its control of over 60% of the world’s cut flowers trade. “Over 50% of the major U.S. and Japanese companies have distribution centres in the Netherlands,” she concluded.

Des Vertannes receives Martin Schroeder Award
A traditional part of the Dutch Air Cargo Debate is reserved for the award named after Martinair founder Martin Schroeder. This year’s winner was Des Vertannes, former Head of Cargo at IATA. According to the jury report, Des was a candidate not to be overlooked as he was “a mediator with an international charisma, who has overcome a lot of obstacles and is able to sell ice to the Eskimo’s.”
In his short word of thanks Des urged the air cargo sector to go for the same sort of collaboration as the passenger business. “Behave like an integrator and know who your customers are,” he said.

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

Steven Manser  /  source: Saudia Cargo
Steven Manser / source: Saudia Cargo

Two expats are exiting Saudia Cargo
Shortly after the AMS meeting Peter Scholten announced exiting Saudia Cargo effective January 15, to pursue other interests in Dubai.
Scholten isn’t the only expat leaving the carrier. As CargoForwarder Global was informed, Steven Manser, Director Cargo Charter Sales at Saudia Cargo decided to give up his job at the Arabian cargo carrier as well. “I am leaving on 19th December and will be joining Qatar Airways Cargo in mid-January (taking on a) similar role as here,” Manser told some biz partners last weekend in an email. No names of successors have been publicized up to now.


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