Air Cargo Europe – Impressions

This year’s biennial Air Cargo Europe (ACE) which is firmly embedded in Munich’s “Transport Logistic” trade show, was again well attended by many air cargo representatives.

Order must prevail. Exactly at 9 a.m. the gates of the show were opened, not a second before  /  source: hs
Order must prevail. Exactly at 9 a.m. the gates of the show were opened, not a second before / source: hs

This year’s biennial Air Cargo Europe (ACE) which is firmly embedded in Munich’s
“Transport Logistic” trade show, was again well attended by many air cargo representatives.

The event which was held from 5 - 8 May was supported by various air cargo related forums as well as many press conferences given by industry captains wishing to promote new services and developments in their individual sectors.

The ACE booths were as usual grouped together in Hall B1
More than 120 companies made up of airlines, airports, ground handlers, integrators, freight agents, trade press, GSA’s and others, staffed the various and colourful booths in the hall.
A real business mixture from different countries and cultures.
All more or less giving the same message.
“Air cargo is back on the map.”

We could probably write a book about what we saw and experienced during those days in Munich.
Here, just some comments and impressions from our side:

Airports showing the flag
The European airport scene certainly dominated the landscape with their booths.
Cologne-Bonn airport had its traditionally large booth, which was even bigger than last time. The booth was supported by companies located at CGN airport and their Wednesday evening soul party rocked the house for hours.
Munich’s booth, ideally situated at the entrance was impressive and proved to be a real “watering hole” for thirsty and hungry air cargo delegates. The managers announced a rapid growth of the air freight segment, outpacing the passenger biz. In 2014, at MUC 309,000 tons were turned over, a 7.5 percent increase y-o-y. This trend continued into the first quarter of 2015, with an above-average increase of 6.2 percent in co-loaded freight and an 18.2 percent rise in freight-only tonnage as compared with Q1 2014.
Brussels Airport was pushing its “Cool Chain” product and Frankfurt International and Frankfurt Hahn were there, although not together, as some rumours still predict for the future.
In contrast, there were surprisingly few airports from the rest of the world.
The exception being the Far East, where airports such as Changi and Incheon had relatively small booths.

But, it was not just all fun at the airport stands.
Serious business discussions were going on almost unabated during the day.
The competition between European airports which are geographically positioned very close to each other, is hard fought and sometimes bitter.

Airlines not so well presented
We counted around 16 international airlines at the show.
Headed of course by the German national carrier’s cargo arm - Lufthansa Cargo with their high-tech stand which one could not miss.
Skyteam and IAG were present alongside Emirates, Etihad, Saudia and Qatar which made up an almost Middle Eastern conglomerate.
The Volga-Dnepr booth was more or less dominated by the in the meantime very successful AirBridge Cargo product.
Virgin Atlantic, although not the largest of carriers to fly cargo, visually dominated the scene with their red garden booth where it seems champagne was freely flowing all day long.
Whether that brought them any extra business, remains to be seen.
A colourful eye-catcher proved to be South African Airways’ stand that also housed the country’s airports, predominantly Johannesburg’s O. R. Tambo International, the by far largest in terms of passengers and cargo throughput in Africa.

Handlers & GSA’s in consolidated form
Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) booth was a handler’s centerpiece in hall B1.
Not surprising, since it’s hard to imagine a large trade show without this impressive and cordial meeting point for industry captains. The news of the recent takeover of WFS brought news hungry participants to the booth.
In relation - Swissport kept their discussion area rather small and Turkey’s Celebi somehow managed to situate themselves somewhat offside.

GSA’s were well represented and kept themselves busy with constant visits to airline and freight agents’ booths.
The largest contributors were the Global GSA Group and ECS Group, followed by ATC.

Equipment and Freight Agents
The market for the production and outsourcing of aircraft equipment, especially ULDs,  aircraft galley equipment and pallets has grown fast these past two years.
The presence of CHEP Aerospace, Envirotainer and Jettainer at the show proved this.
All hoped that their presence would go some way in convincing the carriers even further to outsource their equipment needs to them.

Freight agents were few and far between.
Booths were (understandable considering cost) rather small.
Quick Cargo, STI, EMO TRANS and some others all had small booths and a high level presence.
Is it the high cost of booth space which keeps this important sector of the air cargo industry away?

Announcements & Moods
As mentioned above there were many press conferences and releases around the four day event.
It would take 3 or 4 pages to list them all here.
Here just a few of many:

  • Hong Kong’s handling agent Hactl and Luxembourg airport inked what they term a “GDP- certified route agreement.”
    In their 6 May published release they state that they have signed an MoU to create the first Good Distribution Practices route between HKG and LUX.
    They maintain that they’ll give their best efforts to maintain GDP standards for temperature-sensitive goods along the complete route.
  • Fraport Cargo Service (FCS) received an award from Air China Cargo as the Best Airfreight Service Provider for the China based carrier. The award was presented to FCS for what Air China describes as a successful cooperation between both parties in 2014.
  • Chep Aerospace Solutions, who offer tailor-made equipment supply for carriers signed an agreement with LAN Cargo for the repair and maintenance of its entire fleet of cargo containers and pallets at Miami airport.
    The Zurich-based company also entered into a strategic agreement with ACL workshop, the ULD short-term leasing specialists. Both join forces in order to offer the market what they call smarter and more comprehensive ULD solutions for both their customers.
  • Air Charter Service enlarges OBC services
    Charter specialist, Air Charter Service, decided to heavily invest in its On Board Courier division.
    Justin Lancaster, Group Commercial Director at ACS, said: “We are planning on expanding this offering further over the next few years with offices on other continents in cargo hubs around the world to allow for the expected increase in demand. We aim to be the largest provider of OBC services to freight forwarders in the world.”

Final words:
It’s hard to determine just how much new business was generated in Munich.
Surely, a considerable amount, but many participants confirmed to CargoForwarder Global that the networking effect of being in Munich is of great value to them.

All in all - a good show, dominated by European companies and regretfully less from overseas.

Well! That’s why it’s called Air Cargo Europe we suppose.

Please visit our video section for ACE one-to-one interviews and impressions.

John Mc Donagh / Heiner Siegmund

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