This and more questions we asked some of the attendees of the 9th Air Cargo Handling Conference (ACH), held from 19th – 21st September in the noble Corinthia Hotel in downtown Budapest, Hungary. Here are their unaltered personal impressions:
Wolfgang Fasching, Senior VP Ground Handling Vienna Airport
“Particularly the topics tabled by the organizers were interesting, presented very well by knowledgeable and well-informed panelists. For me personally I must say that it was worth coming to Budapest and to attend the various presentations held here. This all the more since Vienna Airport ran a stand at the exposition center which attracted quite a number of ACH participants.
What I liked very much was the format, consisting of panels, expositions and networking. That was a convincing mix.
Most contents of the topics presented I share. However the often expressed complaints about poorly trained people working at warehouses of ground handlers I don't share. So instead of lamenting our industry should offer training courses for free as we do at VIE.
We started programs to enable interested employees to become coaches who, once they had obtained the needed qualifications began in-house training programs for other ground handling personnel. The lessons are conducted in German to assure that contents are fully understood by the participants. After all, not every warehouse guy speaks English well enough to fully comprehend all legal or technical requirements related to the handling procedures.”
Brad Matheney, Senior Director Cargo Operations Hawaiian Airlines
“Hawaiian Airlines is a rather small operator based in an isolated location in the middle of an ocean. As a carrier, Hawaiian has put a lot of effort and money into developing the cargo business. For us it was key to develop a global view which we did in participating in forward driving discussions and industry events like here in Budapest.
It is important to have exposure to best practices across the cargo industry, to learn more about the specific desires and different components of the supply chain. We have to remind ourselves all the time that airlines are only a small part of the SCL.
When returning back home I take along a broad spectrum of ideas and valuable concepts, hopefully enabling us as Hawaiian Airlines to facilitate a better, even more successful cargo business to the benefit of our customers.”
Jason Breakwell, Commercial Director Wallenborn Transports
“Coming to your initial question if it was worth attending the different trade shows held in Budapest, particularly the ACH Conference I clearly must say it was rewarding. One reason was Saudia Cargo's Chief Ground Handling Officer Chris Notter who moderated the different panels just excellently. It was mainly him but of course many others as well who drove topics ahead, tabling the many challenges our industry is facing, pushing hard for changes, including a new mindset.
Content-wise there were some nuggets I take back home to Luxembourg.”
Rene Droese, Director Business Unit Property Budapest Airport Cargo
“As host of the Air Cargo Handling Exposition and Conference we are proud that we successfully managed to convince the organizers to run the show in Budapest. More than 300 delegates flocked to the venue, attending the different conferences and engaging in talks with delegates that presented their companies at stands built on the exposition floor.
My impression is, resulting from many discussions, that quite a number of attendees gathered here not only because of the conference program but the attractiveness of Budapest as emerging central European hotspot for cargo. For future events of this kind, we have to attract more forwarding agents to engage in dialogues.
Finally, I want to give kudos to the organizer, the British PR Agency EVA International Media who in my eyes did a terrific job.”
Vineet Malhotra, Director Kale Logistics Solutions
“This has been my and my firm’s fourth Air Cargo Handling Conference in a row. Each of them, including Budapest, we found very valuable because the events are kind of a hunting ground for us. We meet people of the industry here and often this turns into business in the weeks or months after.
As to the topics, I find that they are static more or less. The same issues are standing on the agenda year after year and the sequences are quite similar as well.
Last year the workshops turned out to be pretty attractive. In contrast, this year they turned out as presentations tabled by some managers. The outcome is that the attendees could only discuss the specifics of the presentations but hardly ever the entire picture. Last year there was a technology track, which unfortunately was not offered in Budapest.
To wrap it up, the people responsible for the contents did quite a good job but could do better in some segments. Hopefully, they will do it next time.”
Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo Brussels Airport
“The BUD-held ACH event was a positive meeting in many aspects, particularly for networking. I've met people I haven't seen at other conferences or industry events for quite a while.
However, as far as contents are concerned, we are hitting on the same nail every single year. The constant repetition of complaints is getting a bit frustrating.
Actually, the ACH conference is the core event of the ground handlers. However, except for a limited number of companies particularly LUG aircargo handling and ALHA, they were not up front.
My advice is that handler's should be much more active. Their topics should be given priority on the agenda, turning future Air Cargo Handling Conferences into their specific event.”
Statements collected by Heiner Siegmund