In his presentation at Lufthansa Cargo’s Frankfurt-held event ‘Cargovention’ the carrier’s CEO Peter Gerber painted an overall positive futuristic picture. But it needs guts to make anti-cyclical investment decisions in uncertain economic and political times, characterized by trade conflicts and tariff disputes, he said.
Be bold, not faint-hearted was Mr Gerber’s main message to the 225 forwarders, ground handlers, IATA representatives, shippers and Lufthansa Cargo managers attending the Cargovention event,
organized for the second time. Stay positive, because all available data indicate further growth, benefitting air freight carriers and Lufthansa Cargo specifically, the executive said.
Nevertheless, he admitted that uncertainty is on the rise with many protagonists fearing an economic downswing after a longer growth period, negatively affecting the global cargo business. This pessimistic expectation, based on mounting protectionism, tariff conflicts, Brexit uncertainties, a tendency of growing unilateralism, and an increasing number of political trouble spots induce the industry to put investment decisions on the backburner which will might ultimately cause a downward spiral, sending cargo volumes south, Herr Gerber stated.
Courageness beats timidity
That’s the psychological aspect.
But there is another side to the coin, the realistic one, based on financial data and market surveys. They all evidence an overall positive investment climate and enduring consumer confidence. Product demand increases steadily, upping e-commerce and retail trade, enlarging global supply chains. Production cycles and time-to-market processes increasingly speed up and absolute poverty decreases despite persistent population growth, as charts presented by him clearly indicated. According to statistics, day after day, 400,000 people escape the poverty trap, said Mr Gerber, earning more than 2 USD per day, thus surpassing the statistical poverty boundary. It’s the first step to actively participate in the business cycle.
Proving the prophets of doom wrong
All in all, Gerber foresees global economic growth to remain robust, with air freight volumes increasing 3.1 percent in 2019 and most likely also thereafter.
Especially in times of uncertainty enterprises should have guts and invest courageously, driving modernization ahead, thus proving the prophets of doom wrong, he urged.
Regarding his own company this means that their Cargo Center at Frankfurt Airport will be reconstructed step by step, running into the mid-triple-digit millions, with blueprints being concluded this year. The partial rollover of the fleet is another top subject to be accomplished in 2019 and thereafter, as is the upping of frequencies on a number of routes coupled with new destinations to be serviced.
Industry remains optimistic
Positive business predictions were also made by other panelists, namely Nourddin Odris, head of transport at Roche Diagnostics, and Holger Ketz, CEO Germany Kuehne + Nagel. Both spoke of a “lasting healthy business situation.” Mr Odris said that Roche Diagnostics expects growth of 3-plus percent in 2019, but some of his company’s shipments will transit from air to ocean, he announced.
Biosteel invests in spider fibers
In the second part of the event it was all about innovations. The session was kicked off by Biosteel founder Thomas Scheibel who presented products made of machine-made spider silk, fully recyclable and extremely flexible and also durable. They are applicable in footwear, automotive or aviation. Scheibel announced a cooperation agreement with Airbus aimed at using his company’s spider silk as component in aircraft wing production. Another partner is Adidas who offers sneakers made of Biosteel fibres. “Once you don’t want to use the shoes any more you can eat them because they are made of proteins,” he recommended. Bon appétit!
German Bionic produces exoskeletons
Next industry pioneer was Armin Schmidt of German Bionic who presented an exoskeleton which relieves the back when lifting heavy objects by actively mimicking and amplifying human movements. Using it minimizes back injuries and ups productivity 20 percent, said Mr Schmidt. “We sold hundreds of our exoskeletons mainly to Asian users, and after half a day the operators won’t miss it anymore.” At the LH Cargo show one of his colleagues demonstrated the practicability, bringing a beer crate on stage.
PTScientists fly to the Moon
Another intriguing innovator presenting his project was Thorsten Kiening of Berlin-based PTScientists. He revealed his company’s ambitious moon project aimed at flying two Lunar rovers of car maker Audi to our nearest neighbouring planet either in 2019 or 2020 latest. According to plans the rovers will land at the Apollo 17 landing site on the moon’s Taurus-Littrow Valley where Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt set their feet on the lunar surface back in 1972.
It was the latest Moon landing of humans so far. The vehicles will transmit real time pictures from Moon to Earth and try to detect water sources on the planet that then will be extracted.
Booster rocket will be a Falcon 9 of U.S. manufacturer SpaceX. Financial supporters of the mission are NASA, the European Ariane Group and European Space Agency along with many other
By rounding off his carrier’s Cargovention event, CEO Peter Gerber announced to continue this format, where the focal points not only cover the entire air cargo world but stretch beyond – even to the moon. However, he also made clear that Lufthansa Cargo will continue concentrating on earthly things in the years to come without ambitions to transport goods into orbit.