Following months-long lockdowns and virtual cargo conferences, the Nordic Air Cargo Symposium will be the first life event held by Sweden-based organizer Euroavia this year. More are to come in the months ahead. The offer meets a growing need of the European and global cargo industry to stick their heads together, exchange views, establish new or reestablish existing contacts, and discuss business opportunities with each other. The event series will be kicked off in Copenhagen’s Radisson Blue Hotel on 05APR22, hosting the iconic Nordic Air Cargo Symposium, orchestrated by Euroavia Chief Lars-Gunnar Comen.
CFG: Lars-Gunnar, how did the industry respond to your offer, to meet in person after tiresome months of Teams and Zoom sessions?
LGC: We are delighted to see that the response is very good. This event has been rescheduled twice, and now when it is time to finally kick off the Nordic Symposium again, I notice that delegate numbers will be as normal or better, and we have never received so many requests for speaking slots and sponsoring as this time. A strong signal that the air freight industry in Europe is definitively keen on meeting each other again. Time to reconnect with old and new business contacts.
You mention that Teams and Zoom sessions might be tiresome. Yes, for many people it might be so, but during the pandemic times, my company has arranged four virtual air cargo conferences. It is not the same as physical ones for sure. You miss networking and very few are willing to pay any money to attend, so you have to rely on sponsoring income. However, still I learned that virtual conferences makes it easier to attract busy air cargo executives since they do not have to travel. Our World Cargo Summit has been an amazing experience, when we had so many top air cargo executives from all continents and registrations from 96 different countries. Had been impossible with a traditional conference…
But nothing beats a physical conference where you can network with friends and potential new customers during coffee breaks and having a beer or whatever in the hotel bar… I have heard this comment from so many intrepid conference delegates, so it will be fun to meet again in real life!
CFG: When looking at the Copenhagen program, it is striking that the most pressing problem is not explicitly mentioned: Putin's war against Ukraine and the consequences for the intercontinental supply chain. Howe come, it is missing on the itinerary?
LGC: Well, it is not how I see it. Maybe so that we do not expressly mention the Ukraine crisis in the program folder, but be sure that our speakers in relevant sessions that focus on current market challenges are expected to assess the consequences of closed airspace over Russia/Siberia, the capacity crunch, rising fuel costs and related issues. I am convinced that many speakers will talk a lot about current problems related to the Ukraine crisis. So, no worries, if you attend the Nordic Air Cargo Symposium (NACS), you will definitively get an updated review on current and expected challenges and opportunities for the air logistics industry in Europe and globally. Note that NACS despite its name, does not really focus so much on the Nordic/Scandinavian market. All sessions have a European or global approach. Therefore, we have attendees from all over Europe and beyond.
CFG: Sustainability issues, presented by two female speakers, stand last on your agenda. Wouldn't it have deserved to be placed further ahead due to its pressing urgency?
LGC: How sessions appear in order during the day has nothing to do how important they are. I might say that all are important and highly relevant for our participants. This is first time ever we introduce “A Sustainable Future – Implications for the Air Logistics Industry” session. I am delighted that well-known Celine Hourcade, Founder & Managing Director, Change Horizon, will join this important panel.
CFG: By looking ahead, will the Norwegian Seafood conference take place, as originally planned for September in Oslo? What's the status?
LGC: The Norwegian seafood market by air is huge and growing, so we organized a new event “The Future of Norwegian Seafood Air Logistics” in June 2021 as a virtual conference. Since it was highly successful, we have decided to launch this unique event as a “normal” physical conference September 19, 2022 at Quality Airport Hotel Gardermoen, Oslo. Look out for this exciting event with focus on the seafood supply chain by air. Norway is world’s second largest exporter of seafood. Salmon has become an important commodity for the air freight industry, since fresh fish to destinations outside Europe must be flown.
The capacity crunch has affected Norwegian seafood exporters severely. It will be important to assess how to find new ways to reach key markets. Seafood exports are expected to grow significantly in coming years and therefore create new opportunities for the air logistics industry.
CFG: And how about the Caspian Air Cargo Summit in Baku? The last show took place in 2019 and was supposed to be held again in 2021, which did not happen. Are there any chances for this year?
LGC: It is too early to say if the 9th Caspian Air Cargo Summit will be arranged later this year. It is our flagship event. Therefore, we certainly hope that it will return sooner than later since it is highly appreciated by our delegates. Caspian Summit is well known for its excellent program set up and great entertainment. Baku rocks!
CFG: Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a world political watershed. Does this new conflict situation, which also has an extreme impact on logistics and trade, affect Euroavia's upcoming conference and meeting programs? And if so, in what way?
LGC: Inshallah, as they say in many countries where we do business… Only God knows. Very difficult to say. No one can predict at this stage where things are heading. We hope of course for the best and above all a peaceful solution and future for the countries involved in the conflict.
My company has organized air cargo conferences since 1999 and arranged 46 events in 12 countries in Europe, East Asia, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, and CIS region. Part of my business strategy is to “spread the eggs” in the basket. When bad times occur in one region we operate in, we focus on other parts of the world where economic conditions are better. As everyone has experienced, the pandemic times has been special in terms of the entire world suffered at the same time.
We survived the downturn 2008-09 when our beloved industry had problems. Airlines, airports, and others cut on sponsoring of events and attending conferences when market conditions sucks. What to do? One booming market was military and commercial cargo into Afghanistan, so we arranged the Afghanistan Air Cargo Conference four times and had the best outcome by far ever. If you are agile and willing to adapt, there will always be opportunities, so I am confident that our future will be bright or at least OK.
CFG: Lars-Gunnar, thanks for your insights and good luck with your upcoming events
Interview: Heiner Siegmund
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