On 21APR21, Air Cargo Belgium will celebrate its 5th anniversary. The umbrella organization has brought Brussels Airport an impressive upgrade, CargoForwarder Global (CFG) learned from Chairman David Bellon and Director Geert Keirens.
ACB was not the first attempt to steer the different air cargo stakeholders of Brussels Airport into a collaborating community. However, other initiatives like SCALE (Stakeholder Committee for
Airport Logistics & Economy) and the Brucargo Strategic Committee expired largely unnoticed.
CFG: What does ACB have that the previous initiatives lacked?
DB: “The previous initiatives were meetings of a select group trying to formulate a strategic vision through high-level concertation. What lacked was planning and implementation of that vision. ACB has taken the vision to implementation and, to support this, it has set up a professional organization with a staff of 10 along with the necessary resources. It is the implementation of the proposed strategy that makes the difference.”
CFG: What are the most striking advantages ACB has gained over the past 5 years?
GK: “The first one, is making Brussels Airport the most attractive air cargo logistics platform. I think that mission has been accomplished to the full extent. In spite of its size, Brussels Airport has become successful in establishing itself as an important pharma hub, observed with a lot of interest from all over the world. Even in times of the pandemic, the airport has produced volume growth. During the first trimester of 2021, the volume growth was impressive compared to last year.”
“Secondly, we have been trendsetting for the entire air cargo industry in the field of digitization, in demonstrating that it is possible to create an integrated chain within a community. This has led to enhanced efficiency and cost savings for the companies. I gladly refer to our digital Ready for Carriage in this respect.”
CFG: What about conflicts of interests between the different companies in different trades?
DB: “ACB will always be a story in which companies get together. In the first place, they will always defend their own interests, but thanks to ACB, they can all look into the same direction. We found that offering a neutral platform of equally valuable partners has created confidence in the way to go.”
“That is, again, the big difference with the loose system of collaboration of the past. Companies will continue to pursue their own interests, but compatible with the ACB strategy.”
CFG: Mr Bellon, from your New Year’s address I learned that the digitization process is still quite slow. Are there still some walls to be taken down?
DB: “Within an organization you should never be satisfied about where you are. Today, we are proud that, in 5 years’ time, we have been able to produce an incredible set of technical building blocks. To use a metaphor: we have built a house, but it is not sufficiently inhabited yet.”
“To reach efficiency, it takes critical mass. Only then will digitization be the standard and no longer an option. I admit that I am not entirely satisfied yet. I hope to achieve the ‘standard’ approach during my chairmanship.”
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels
(*the other kind is anyhow what Belgium already does best!)
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