Air Cargo Europe (ACE), the world's leading air freight trade show opens its doors again tomorrow (4 June) at the Munich exhibition center. The four-day gathering has attracted 230 exhibitors from more than 40 countries, an increase of 8 percent to the last ACE held two years ago. It is a new record set by Air Cargo Europe and organizer Messe Muenchen since the fair’s inception 18 years ago.
“We have noticed a very strong interest of the air freight community in our 2019-held trade show,” stated spokesperson Silvia Hendricks of Messe Muenchen GmbH when asked about the feedback from
the market. Observers believe that this attention is caused by a growing uncertainty on economic developments illustrated by increasing trade tensions between the U.S. and China, tariffs imposed
or announced (Mexico, EU) by the Trump administration and the general unilateralist trend in politics. Definitely a perilous mélange posing a risk to globalization. This rather somber framework
explains to a certain degree the high extraordinary number of airlines, GSAs, forwarders or ground handlers attending the Munich trade show. They not only want to display their brands and
products but are eager to stick their heads together to exchange views and find solutions for best weathering the storm.
The ideal place for expelling dark clouds hanging over the air cargo community, happening at the right time is Munich-held ACE. There, the industry can regain the much-needed confidence and its optimism.
Two basic options
As regards the Munich offerings, ACE attendees have the agony of choice. Option one: they can primarily focus on bilateral meets with their customers, spending most of their time at stands for talking business or deepening existing ties. Many prefer doing so, as experience shows.
Alternatively, they attend conferences and forums where an exciting specter of topics is offered the participants, focusing on future trends in air freight and logistics. One key issue standing high on Munich’s agenda is artificial intelligence and how AI can be utilized productively when booking shipments or during build-up processes of cargo consignments.
Another highlight in Messe Munich’s program is the future role of robotics and automation, especially in ground handling of air freight. So are debates focusing on the current market situation that shows an overall contracting tendency leading to shrinking rates and cuts in transport capacity, announced by Lufthansa Cargo last week, for instance.
Further to this, the foreseeable consequences of Brexit for the logistics players and the air freight industry in particular is another hot issue standing on MUC’s conference agenda under the heading “New times in the UK - upheaval or demolition.”
Silk Road casts its shadow over Munich
Of particular interest should be a panel highlighting the Chinese "Belt and Road" initiative that’s been massively pushed forward by Beijing as are many infrastructure measures complementing the new rail connection between the Far East and Europe. This interest is also reflected in the sharp increase in the number of exhibitors from China, which has almost doubled compared with Transport Logistik two years ago to 64 today. Alarmed by the U.S. sanctions, these companies are increasingly looking for co-operation partners in Europe, ACE organizer Messe Munich believes.
Broad specter of participants
Turning to cargo airlines, a glance at the list of attendees shows that many of the big boys run their own stands at the trade show. The index of renowned names comprises Cargolux, Qatar Cargo, Emirates, Lufthansa Cargo, Air France-KLM Cargo, Antonov Airlines Cargo, United Cargo and Turkish Cargo, to name but a few. In addition, new exhibitors such as Finnair Cargo or the Japanese freighter operator All Nippon Airways decided to join the pack and run stands at the fair.
The spectrum would be incomplete without mentioning freight forwarders such as DB Schenker, K+N, DHL, Bolloré, EMO Trans or Austrian cargo partner GmbH flying their flags at Munich. So do ATC, ECS, Skyline Air Services and other general sales agents together with ground handlers and cargo managers representing airports. These include Brussels, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Munich, Budapest, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Cologne-Bonn, Leipzig-Halle, among others.
At the end it’s all Wurst and Beer
To wrap things up, it is more than likely that many business deals are initiated or even inked outside the fairgrounds, mainly at local Bavarian restaurants which tend to offer guests a pleasant ambience. For both undertakings: discussing business matters and enjoying Bavarian Wurst, Sauerkraut, Haxe, Pretzels or other local delicacies. Rounded off by mugs filled with tasty Bavarian beer.