The Frankfurt-based cargo club, ACD, urges the industry and German politics to take action to avoid falling behind global market developments. “With volumes up a meager 1.2 percent last year we basically see a standstill,” criticized Winfried Hartmann, ACD’s president, at a press briefing in Berlin’s famous PanAm Lounge.
The ACD leading manager’s main points of criticism tabled during the media briefing were:
- Classic air freight in Germany is rapidly losing market shares to the integrators without reacting much to this accelerating trend
- Instead of bundling forces, industry actors follow their own egocentric path driven by outdated individual instead of common interests. Everybody tries to get his piece of the cake, forwarders, carriers, shippers, handlers, making them all losers at the end of the day
- Many firms lack the willingness to speed up processes; modernization is some sort of a foreign word for them
- There is no industrial leader in sight that takes over general responsibility and sets the pace, speaking with one voice on behalf of all parties involved.
Whilst on the subject of the state of the German cargo industry, ACD boss Hartmann reminded that air freight shipments still have an average door-door running time of 6 days, the same as they used to have years ago. So no improvement there. Nor have the more than 30 interfaces a shipment has to pass on its way from origin to destination visibly decreased. Another disappointing fact is that 90 percent of its entire door-door journey air freight spends on the ground. No progress there either.
Winfried’s resume: The classic air cargo is a model of the past that will not continue shouldn’t it turn itself upside down.
ACD’s Board Members Christoph Papke and Mathias Jakobi claimed that in comparison to their counterparts around the world, there is little readiness on the part of the German air cargo community to come up with long-standing and positive innovations.
They drew a comparison with Southeast Asia for example, which is the global pioneer in the field of e-freight, relying on functional digital processes throughout the whole supply chain.
Turning things to the better - hopefully
In this respect, the Air Cargo Club Deutschland urged for action to be taken – at once. At an upcoming forum entitled “The Future of Air Cargo Supply Chains,” the Club will endeavor to pursue a common goal aimed at providing clear momentum that in ACD’s eyes is essential in order to restore international competitiveness in the German and European air freight industry.
Winfried Hartmann stated that “there’s a need to pool the expertise in these fields and improve the complete supply chain- regardless of individual interests.”
The ACD chief believes that transparency and digitization are key for consumers if they are going to rely on using air freight in the future.
A volcano as humble helper?
“Our mission is bringing together all cargo stakeholders, defining common objectives and measures and make the broad public aware of the necessity of air freight,” stated Winfried. This all the more important to attract young talent to step into air freight and take over responsibility. That’s another challenge since the image of the industry is rather poor, “anything but sexy,” the ACD boss admitted.
So a huge task package the ACD has to take on. Helpful would be a new volcano eruption in Iceland, grounding aircraft all over Europe for a week or even longer. “When standing in front of empty shelves at supermarkets the broad public will ultimately understand the valuable contribution of air freight to their daily life,” said Herr Hartmann.
Heiner Siegmund / John Mc Donagh