For four years, the world's leading trade show for the logistics and air cargo industry remained in a kind of permanent hibernation. Now it has awakened - and how! With record figures everywhere you look. Over 75,000 visitors from more than 120 countries showed up, and 2,320 exhibitors from all continents displayed their products and services. And then there were the many personal encounters that took place on the exhibition grounds or outside in restaurants and bars. In this respect, Munich's gastronomy and local hotel industry must have been extremely pleased with the return of the mother of all logistics and air freight trade shows.
The official figures are indeed very impressive. Accordingly, Robert Schönberger, Exhibition Group Director, Messe München, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the four-day long air cargo Europe and transport logistic (09-12MAY): “The logistics and air freight industry has provided a record trade show and set strong impulses for the tasks ahead in challenging times. We hope that the dynamics of the fair will give the industry further momentum.”
There were three major topics overarching the entire event. These dominated panel agendas and were top subjects at discussions among the participants in the 6 exhibition halls: Firstly, the industry's growing responsibility for decarbonization and sustainable modes of transportation combined with swift and practical conversion processes; secondly, the increasing challenges and shortcomings caused by a lack of manpower, particularly the shortage of truck drivers; and thirdly, the limited progress of digitalization leading to a lack of interconnected data systems. In fact, AI, robotics, and automation can be of help and mitigate some deficiencies. However, the Munich event also made very clear that above all, it depends on people who identify with the logistics and air freight industry and who promote it with their daily doing together with positive verbal messages.
Delivered as ordered
This is necessary because the image of the industry is still rather poor – a fact that became crystal clear in a discussion with the management of Leipzig Airport (LEJ), and proven by statements delivered by leading representatives of the city’s Economic Department. One of their members referred to logistics jobs as being unattractive and considered to be of poor repute. And this is in a city where 14,000+ people at LEJ Airport, DHL Express, AeroLogic, Georgi Handling, and other companies work to ensure every day that goods are exported as booked, or delivered by a courier to the doorsteps of a consignee in case of imports.
That said, it is somehow comforting that the EU and the German government have a slightly different view of the importance of logistics in all its facets for the economy and consumers. Both regard the sector as a key industry that determines the competitiveness, innovative strength, and quality of an entire ecosystem. Bureaucratic and political stumbling blocks should be set aside wherever possible and innovative potential be promoted in a targeted manner.
Sustainability was a key issue in Munich
This was a very key message delivered at the transport logistic – air cargo Europe 2023, by German Transport Minister, Volker Wissing during the opening session and his visit of the fairground. “At almost all exhibitor stands, it can be sensed and also heard in direct talks that the industry takes sustainability issues very seriously. I assure you that we will do our utmost to support them on the road to climate neutrality,” the official promised.
Stefan Rummel, MD of Messe München, applauded the Minister’s statement. At the same time, however, he took the opportunity to draw attention to shortcomings: According to the World Bank's Performance Index, Germany has slipped to third place in the international logistics ranking, behind Singapore and Finland. His message to the Minister in short: In order to maintain this position or - better - to regain first place, the infrastructure, which has been neglected for years both politically and financially, urgently needs to be renovated, modernized, and expanded wherever needed. Ultimately, trucks still bear the majority of freight traffic.
Think global – act local!
Yet, even there the picture is changing, as a glance through the windows of Messe München proved: e-trucks from various operators were lined up with several H2-powered vehicles standing next to them. A Schenker manager commented: “The industry has come forward, now the politicians must take action.” This statement, he emphasized, applies not only to Germany, but to Europe, and indeed to the entire world. Limiting or even stopping global warming can only be achieved by acting locally and thinking globally.
Statements by individual participants of air cargo Europe are published in subsequent reports.
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