True to the old sports motto ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ the building of a new organization called Air Cargo Belgium (ACB) has been announced today (18 April). Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo at Brussels Airport, is nominated Chairman of the new association.
Less than a month ago Brussels Airport was terribly hit by two suicide bombers, killing many, devastating the departure hall of Zaventem. A blow that created fear and horror, crippling air
traffic considerably at the Belgian capital for weeks after.
Getting back to normal is extremely tough and can only be accomplished step by step.
One such step, even a major one, is the building of the new cargo community organization Air Cargo Belgium. It’s an extremely positive sign in challenging times. ACB aims at getting all relevant stakeholders in air freight onto one table, bundling forces, speaking with one voice for improving processes and better lobbying for the concerns of the group both to politicians and customs officials. “Up to now, forwarding agents expressed their individual needs, so did ground handlers or airlines,” states ACB helmsman Steven Polmans. “What we needed is concentrating these opinions and views to achieve greater impact and to be taken seriously. Less separation, more integration is the basis of our conduct.” That’s the idea behind ACB, whose acting is inspired by neighbouring Air Cargo Netherlands, says Steven.
ACB’s emergence does not lead to the dissolution of the existing cargo organizations active at Zaventem. In contrast, they continue to exist, since each of them has special interests and serves different needs. But simultaneously they have joined the new umbrella organization, becoming an active part of ACB as platform for the exchange of opinions and carry out campaigns.
Besides the current members, more companies are expected to soon join the association. Jumping on the bandwagon might be beneficial for them, because ACB will create working groups on topics such as digitization, operational efficiency and pharmaceuticals. Those that decide to stay absent might lose touch with new developments and risk to fall behind.
The era of lone wolfs seems to be over
There won’t be that many who will not take up this new opportunity to form themselves as a “one man - one voice” organization. It can only be of benefit to all when the ACB can use its collective voice to speedily changes and rectify issues which affect the Belgian cargo community.
This has been proven by their colleagues in Amsterdam, who for a few years now have brought the cargo community into one boat. The result being that all players there have reached a stage where they not only speak as one voice but also act as one.
Will the future bring a consolidated European Air Cargo Community?
Let’s wait and see!
Heiner Siegmund / John Mc Donagh
This is what leading cargo managers had to say after the formation of ACB was made public today:
Alain De Heldt, Chairman of BAFI (forwarders)
We will only have one agenda to follow. Together we stand and we are resolved to built a relationship of trust and respect. We do not want to evolve into a service club. ACB will be a tool to keep the dialogue open at all times. We have expressed a firm commitment on fortnightly meetings which will force us to meet in a concrete way.
Bas van Goch, Chairman ACMAB (airlines)
Especially now is the time is right to keep Brussels Airport on the map, making clear that we are not somewhere in the outskirts of Europe. ACB will enable us to discuss issues like security and e-freight, that until now have been on the agendas of the separate professional organisations, on a common platform.
Marc Claesen, Chairman of CCAB (cargo handlers)
As an organisation CCAB will in time be fully integrated in ACB and will continue its activities as a cluster within the umbrella organisation. Together with all the other stakeholders we will promote air cargo within and outside the airport. More than ever there is a need to join forces within the aviation industry to put Flanders and Brussels Airport on the map as one of the main logistic hubs in Europe.
Voices gathered by Marcel Schoeters