Last week, Brussels Airport’s cargo community was invited to the official launch of the umbrella organisation of ‘Air Cargo Belgium’ (ACB). The event was more than well attended, demonstrating the great interest of the players involved to combine their forces. The official launching ceremony was topped by the cutting of cake specially baked for the occasion.
The keynote speech at the ceremony was delivered by Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company. He acknowledged that ACB’s inception was an important moment for BruCargo. “They make up a
community of over 5,000 air cargo enthusiasts and another 10,000 jobs indirectly depend on BruCargo,” exclaimed the executive.
Cargo reinforces passenger traffic, said Arnaud. “Especially on the long-haul routes passenger aircraft carry cargo as well. A great deal of them would not be profitable without it.
However, belly cargo is just the cherry on the cake. Only when complemented by full-freighter volume can you create critical mass.”
“No airport has done this ever before”
Brussels Airport has made itself a name in time-definite and temperature-sensitive products and thus creates an important added value for the Belgian economy, Arnaud empfhsized. He praised the successful efforts the airport’s cargo team has made in recent times under the stewardship of helmsman Steven Polmans, above all the IATA CEIV certification and a number of innovative solutions like the pharma transporter or the cloud. According to the CEO, all of this explains why Brussels Airport has been the winner of 3 World Air Cargo Awards in a row. “No airport has ever done this before!”
Arnaud also pointed to the way forward, highlighted by forecasts that the global annual air cargo volume will grow at an average 4.2% (Sources: Boeing, OECD) pace over the next 20 years, generating thousands of jobs.
As a comprehensive company network, ACB can enjoy a yearly subsidy of 150,000 euros over the next 3 years handed out by the Flemish government. Eric Sleeckx, the representative of the responsible minister Philippe Muyters, explained that these networks are considered to be the most important drivers of innovative value chains. He reminded of ACB’s ambition to generate a yearly volume growth of 5.0% from 2016 through 2019, creating 500 jobs.
Six core characteristics
ACB is chaired by BAC’s Head of Cargo Steven Polmans, but its director is Geert Keirens. He said that ACB’s ambition is for BruCargo to be efficient, innovative and attractive. “Since 1980, when BruCargo was set up, the participants in the industry were represented by stakeholders organisations, but until now no comprehensive had been set up,” Geert said.
From a survey, the BAC team had identified 6 core characteristics to guide its ambitions. The first one is cooperation, with the aim of building a strong community. Secondly, BAC is to act as the main lobbying and communication platform for the Brussels Airport cargo community. As for the commercial approach, Geert confirmed ACB’s ambition to trigger a 5.0% volume growth in the years to come, adding that for the niche markets the goal has been set at 8.0%.
ACB also wants to make the processes at Brussels Airport more efficient. “Today we are still working in a fragmented environment,” Geert said. Linked to that is the organisation’s aim to improved
staff competences and availability.
Enlarging the reach
Finally yet importantly, ACB wants to promote the sharing of best practices and innovation. “We want to go where no man has even gone before,” Geert set a highly ambitious goal.
On top of this, ACB wants to reach out to other logistics organisations, the Antwerp port community, other airports, and the Flemish Institute of Logistics and sister organisations abroad.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels