Without air freight, the world would be much poorer. This is proven every day by the vast number of important goods transported by air. What started from small beginnings decades ago has
developed into a huge and indispensable industry.
One important advocate is the aircargo club deutschland - acd (German Air Cargo Association), which promotes the interests of the air freight industry through its own events, media activities and, above all, the daily commitment of its members.
On 24OCT23, this organization celebrated its sixtieth anniversary at Frankfurt Airport.
A living cargo legend adorned the anniversary
The three heads of the air cargo lobby organization, President Christopher Stoller, VP Ingo Richter, and Thorsten Hecker, Finances, could not have picked a more fitting guest of honor for the anniversary event: Fokko Doyen. The former chief pilot of Lufthansa Cargo's MD-11 freighter fleet is a world-renowned and well-connected living legend in cargo aviation.
Fokko started his cockpit career in 1977 and retired as MD-11F fleet commander at the end of 2020, when the era of ELEVENs operated by Lufthansa Cargo also drew to a close.
“In my role as a pilot, I particularly appreciated the family atmosphere in the cargo sector and the destinations we served, which often were a bit more exciting than those served by the passenger network,” he argued.
In addition to Lufthansa Cargo’s scheduled services, Fokko also flew many a humanitarian mission during his cockpit career. Particularly distressing were the relief flights to Haiti in 2010, following the worst earthquake to date, which killed an estimated 300,000 people. Due to the massive destruction of the infrastructure, the aid flights had to be diverted to the Dominican Republic, from where the shipments were then trucked across the border to Haiti.
Dispelling an untenable stereotype
In 2007, Fokko Doyen founded the aid organization Cargo Human Care (CHC), which mainly supports orphans in Kenya. A key reason, but not the only one, why he received the Cross of Merit on Ribbon of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Based on profound professional experience, he contradicts the widespread cliché that cargo plays second fiddle when compared to passenger services. “The covid pandemic was an eye opener for many. It demonstrated the outstanding supply function air freight has, be it the air transport of medicines, hygienic articles or vaccines, this way saving lives.”
He went on to say: “Presumably there would be no just-in-time supply chains, on which entire industries and especially e-tailors such as Amazon or Alibaba depend, without the rapid transport of goods by air. The same goes for the integrators, who would probably not exist in their current form without their huge freighter fleets,” he reasoned.
Pride and appreciation
Numerous congratulations on acd's 60th anniversary had already been received in the run-up to the event. The 60 or so attendees at the anniversary celebration, including not only newer members but also many long-time companions, were full of pride and appreciation for acd's achievements and accomplishments.
The aircargo club deutschland was founded on 08OCT63, in the Frankfurt branch of the legendary Café Kranzler, then an institution and popular meeting place in the city center.
It was primarily airline personnel and managers of freight agents, who recognized the growing relevance of air freight - at a time when cargo-only aircraft were just beginning to emerge and giant freighters such as the B747F, AN-124, or even drones were not yet even conceivable.
Almost from the beginning, Hamburg-born Eckart Moltmann, the founder of EMO Trans, actively supported the acd. Now, 85 years of age, he looks back on a membership spanning 55 years. “Being part of the acd for more than five decades, I am one of the oldest freight forwarders to have held the banner of the air freight lobby high in good but also critical times.”
At the beginning, 44 cargo enthusiasts signed up to the membership list. Today, more than 200 experts from a wide range of areas in the industry have joined the air freight lobby. “Since the acd’s inception, air freight has grown considerably in importance. The volume in Germany has increased steadily ever since, accounting for an annual five million tons today,” acd president, Christopher Stoller illustrated air cargo’s impressive ascent in numbers.
How many of these tons were flown on board of freighters piloted by Fokko and his cockpit crew, is not known. “All I can say is that we transported the entire product range, from A to Z, including animals, pharmaceuticals, valuables or perishables.”
Today, he devotes most of his energy to the aid organization Cargo Human Care e. V. (CHC), that he founded and chairs, and which is financed entirely by private donations.
To this end, he has been back in Kenya since the middle of last week. His bicentennial or so stay in the East African country, whether professionally as a pilot or in his role as CHC chairman.
At the anniversary event, acd supported the CHC activities with a generous donation - the exact amount remained unmentioned.
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