The TIACA Executive Summit delivered a firework of hot industrial topics, impressions, and important impetus for the 350 or so delegates who attended the professionally organized event. This becomes clear by the statements given to CargoForwarder Global. We asked them what they thought were the most important takeaways, and whether they felt the event had been worth attending.
This much can already be said: the responses were extremely positive. A light-hearted poll was also shared on our CargoForwarder LinkedIn page, asking delegates to rate the event.
Brandon Fried, Executive Director, Airforwarders Association (AFA), USA
It is always worthwhile attending meetings like this one, run by TIACA in Brussels, to share our organization’s perspectives and compare the views of our European and international peers. Informal meetings enable us to gain new or additional insights, particularly on the role that the ground handling of freight plays at most airports. Since a major ocean parts Brussels and Washington, we often don’t have sufficient information about what’s happening on the other side of the Big Pond, despite electronic channels being available to discuss issues with each other. But face-to-face events, as the TIACA Summit proves once again, are significantly more valuable and more sustainable than Zoom calls or the exchange of emails.
In addition to the many individual aspects that were discussed or presented here and the deepening of existing relationships with air freight experts, I will take two key takeaways back to Washington:
First and foremost, it is the increased importance of the role transcontinental or even domestic supply chains play which is not only confirmed by experts, but also acknowledged by the general public. Let me cite one of the panelists here at the TIACA meet: Speaking about bottlenecks, he mentioned toilet paper which became temporarily unavailable during the pandemic due to supply bottlenecks. This has opened many people's eyes to the relevance and complexity of transportation. The example may sound simple, but it illustrates very practically the consequences of disrupted supply chains, leading to empty shelves at supermarkets. This made supply chains, including the role of air and ocean freight, visible and tangible for a great number of consumers.
Secondly, I found it remarkable that the topic of logistics is successively gaining a much higher priority at an increasing number of universities and educational institutions, as the examples from Florida presented at the TIACA session showed. The pandemic was a wake-up call showing the young generation that logistics is a viable career option offering plenty opportunities without sacrificing income.
And finally, a word on AFA's new self-image: we need to open thematically and focus more strongly than before on world events. Isolationism has never been a good solution, neither politically nor economically. Only global trade enables global peace is our strong belief.
Celine Hourcade, Managing Director, Change Horizon
I was invited by TIACA to speak on sustainability and run a panel. This topic impacts all players across the industry: shippers, airlines, forwarding agents, ground handlers, and consignees along with their organizations. Sustainability is no longer a marginal issue but has long since arrived in the center of society, which was also made clear in Brussels. What also became evident is the industry's expectation to accelerate the pace of transformation by skipping outdated practices and implementing greener solutions in air, ocean, and road, instead. This would also significantly improve the rather poor reputation of aviation in the public eye.
Besides this pressing topic that fortunately is constantly gaining traction, I saw a lot of young people attending the event and also more female participants compared to past TIACA meetings. This is one important takeaway I bring back home. Further to this, I appreciated the broad spectrum of topics discussed in Brussels, covering the most pressing aspects and challenges the cargo industry is facing.
Last but not least, networking also played a key role. People who attend such events not only expect to be informed about latest market trends and current developments in the industry through on-stage presentations, but also show up to meet with peers to deepen existing contacts or establish new ones. This is a very important aspect for which there was plenty of room at the TIACA event, thanks to professional scheduling.
Pascale Demieter, Head of Coast Air
I have just returned from San Francisco and instead of going straight to my office at Liège Airport, I decided to attend the TIACA Summit here in Brussels. Why? Mainly to exchange information with the participants. In other words, for networking reasons; to deepen existing relationships and see acquaintances from the industry again. In general, networking at such events offers me the most added value.
What is also important for me, however, is to find out whether air freight will pick up again, worldwide, in the spring of next year at the latest. It is very important for me and my company, Coast Air, to gain an impression by discussing market outlooks with leading industry representatives.
Generally speaking, I find it depressing to see how business is being successively jeopardized by military action and political decisions. The Hamas attack on Israel and the military response to it is just the latest example. The Russian war against Ukraine and the destabilization of parts of Africa by the Wagner mercenaries with the support of the Kremlin, are further disgusting examples. Air freight is no stranger to crises, but the current accumulation of conflicts is becoming increasingly burdensome. I predict that many companies will not survive this valley of tears.
Tom Hoang, Regional Director, Cargo Marketing, Boeing
Was it worth attending the event? The answer is a resounding yes. We all have seen an excellent summit, with TIACA bringing value to the industry by addressing important topics such as sustainability, e-commerce or digitalization, in addition to market tendencies or modal split issues and their consequences for the cargo industry. One topic of specific interest from Boeing’s point of view, was the nose door issue of freighter aircraft, which is of utmost importance for our company. In fact, we stopped producing any cargo aircraft capable of elevating the cockpit section to allow the front loading of outsized or voluminous pieces such as oil drill equipment, for instance. However, the good news is that there are still 140 Boeing 747-400 units flying with an average age of 20 years. These can be P2C converted, expanding their life cycles for at least another 10 years. In addition, there are 107 Boeing 747-8 freighters in global operation, equipped with nose loading capabilities and averaging 7 years of age. Just think of Cargolux or Atlas Air and their large fleets of nose door Boeing freighters. So, in total, we speak of a nose loading potential of almost 250 B747s, with most of them securing supply for the next 20 to 25 years. I’m grateful that this issue was raised at the TIACA meeting, allowing me to shed light on this much debated topic.
Statements compiled by Heiner Siegmund
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