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Munich’s cargofest

The global air cargo industry converged on Munich in Germany for the latest instalment of Air Cargo Europe, Keith Mwanalushi rounds up some highlights

Air Cargo Europe, the international industry gathering for the global air freight industry has been taking place in Munich since 2003. The exhibition is part of Transport Logistic, arguably one of the world's largest trade fairs for logistics, mobility, IT, and supply chain management.


The 2019 stats are reflective of the significance of the event to the industry. Organisers Messe München stated there were 2,374 exhibitors, an increase of 10% and around 64,000 visitors, an increase of 5%.


The trade fair has grown by one hall to ten halls and has once again become significantly more international, an increase of 3% points to 56% for exhibitors and by 3% points to 47% for visitors, an event report stated.


“We saw strong growth from China, where the number of exhibitors almost doubled by 30 new ones to 64,” said Stefan Rummel, Managing Director of Messe München. He reported that Chinese companies were increasingly looking for cooperation partners in Europe as part of the Silk Road Initiative.

Obviously, most of the key players in air cargo were present. Emirates SkyCargo was out in full force with their suite of specialised solutions for different industry verticals such as pharmaceuticals, perishables and food, automotive and valuable cargo amongst others.


“Air Cargo Europe is a good platform for us to showcase all our offerings and capabilities,” Jeffrey Van Haeften, Emirates Vice President – Cargo Global Sales and Commercial – Europe, tellsAirline Cargo Management. “For example, we were showcasing our ability to transport large and outsized cargo and in general our charter capabilities. We have a modern fleet of widebody aircraft including Boeing 777Fs and our network spans six continents. We offer our customers a mix of part and full charters to meet a variety of requirements.”


Emirates also announced that it had enhanced its capabilities in the handling of pharmaceuticals: “We have a new dedicated and purpose-built facility for pharmaceutical cargo in Chicago.” The facility is spread over 1,000 sq metres, with scope for additional expansion and is capable of handling 15,000 tonnes of cargo per year. It has temperature-controlled zones for acceptance and delivery, pharma cargo build up and break down, storage and direct ramp access ensuring quick transfer of cargo from aircraft to warehouse and vice versa.


“We already have state of the art GDP certified facilities in Dubai but with this move we’re ensuring that we provide a higher level of protection for pharmaceutical cargo from origin to destination.”


Van Haeften says there is an ongoing programme called “Pharma Corridors” and globally Emirates has 20 stations that are part of the pharma corridor network. “We work closely with the ground handling service providers and other stakeholders to make sure that pharmaceutical cargo is handled using the same high standards that we apply at our hubs in Dubai,” he adds.


Air Cargo Europe is undoubtedly one of the most important gatherings of professionals from the air cargo industry from around the world, and Haeften agrees: “It presents a valuable opportunity to have direct face to face meetings with your customers and other stakeholders. 


“Air Cargo Europe gave us a good platform to meet with some of our major customers and understand what their pain points are. This feeds into our own product development both in terms of introducing new products as well as in refining our current offering.”


Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) also made a special announcement at the booth about the collaboration with Hartsfield-Jackson, Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in the USA.


The MoU will enable an exchange of data between AMS and ATL to facilitate end-to-end planning and capacity optimisation, extend the benefits of the AMS Cargo Community system to ATL, and boost trade flows between the respective air cargo gateways, the Dutch airport emphasised.


“This collaborative agreement will enable us to promote the benefits of strengthening the Netherlands as a gateway to Europe, and Atlanta Airport as a gateway to the Atlantic, the Midwest, and the South of the USA,” said Bart Pouwels, Head of Cargo, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

“Not only is this good news for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol by expanding our cargo community with Atlanta, but it will also benefit the economy of the Netherlands by further establishing Schiphol’s Mainport hub role,” Pouwels stated.


From September this year, and throughout 2020, AMS and ATL will be working on the formation of the Atlanta Cargo Network, with the aim to increase exports from ATL to AMS of agricultural and manufacturing goods produced in Georgia, which will be measured by an economic impact assessment study due in 2021.


Technology and innovation were a concurrent theme throughout the event. Air cargo booking specialist showed the industry its revolutionary booking platform complete with all its features and functionalities.


“A lot has happened in the past few months, and we were not only able to showcase the ability to search for, compare and book air cargo capacities across a growing number of airlines, but also to present our newest functionality: booking updates,” says Moritz Claussen, Co-founder of

Claussen explains to Airline Cargo Management that by using this feature, freight forwarders can easily update booking details such as weight, number of pieces or destination, to make sure that their cargo makes it onto the right flight. “The overwhelming amount of positive feedback and excitement within the industry was a great reward for the whole team that worked really hard in the last year to make all of this happen.


One other highlight for was the announcement of AirBridgeCargo and CargoLogicAir as new partners on the platform. “Both airlines will become the first all-cargo airlines to make their capacities available for digital booking with instant confirmation. We are really happy to enable this major move,” Claussen indicates.


At, they observe that this traditionally slow industry is increasingly trying to make the future happen. This goes for both the airlines’ and the forwarder side – driven by the fact that new and wholly integrated players such as amazon or Cainiao are pushing into the market.


“Only 18 months ago, many airlines would have never offered bookable rates based on available capacities digitally for booking,” Claussen comments.  “All of them have revaluated and most of them reiterated their position.


“Airlines now understand that serving freight forwarders through digital channels with rates that are based on available capacities, does not only open opportunities to reach new freight forwarding customers that were never reached before, but to also increase load factors and to reduce costs substantially.”


CharterSync was also showcasing its new online platform, which will make booking time-critical cargo charter flights quicker and easier for freight-forwarding companies. The innovative technology accurately matches cargo loads to the most suitable aircraft in real time, offering significant time savings, transparency, and visibility for go-now charter flights.

The event in Munich enabled CharterSync to host almost a non-stop series of demonstrations of the platform and high level talks with operators and freight forwarders. The event highlighted significant interest from key stakeholders and has enabled the company to exponentially increase the number of operators and freight forwarders wanting to utilise the platform.


Air Cargo Europe far exceeded expectations and the reception for CharterSync has been extremely positive and encouraging, so the company reports. The platform was developed based on experience within the industry and recognising a huge gap which could be addressed through combined industry knowledge and tech software expertise.


Led by Changi Airport Group (CAG), the Singapore air cargo community consisting of partners across the supply chain (Alliance 21, DHL Aviation, dnata, Jetstar Asia, SATS and Singapore Airlines Cargo) exhibited at this year’s Air Cargo Europe show.


The global air cargo landscape is rapidly evolving. The air cargo sector is increasingly challenged by fast-changing consumer and business demands, which warrant logistics players including airports, airlines, forwarders and cargo handlers to be more efficient, transparent and precise.

Together with their partners, Changi Airport Group is responding to these trends and demands. “In the pharmaceuticals sector, we are collaborating with like-minded CEIV Pharma communities under the ambit of Pharma.Aero to give greater value to pharmaceutical shippers. We have recently completed DIGI 1.0, which aimed to develop a proof of concept for a global IT platform that enhances visibility of pharmaceuticals’ air transportation,” says Mr Lim Ching Kiat, Managing Director, Airhub Development at Changi Airport Group.


He adds that through the aggregation of data across the supply chain, the platform also enables shippers to visualise, undertake preventive measures and ultimately, to be equipped with predictive capabilities. 


He says they are now embarking on the next phase of the project – DIGI 2.0, which involves Changi Airport, Brussels Airport, Pfizer, DHL Global Forwarding and Singapore Airlines in developing a prototype using real data for a selected trade lane (Brussels– Singapore– Sydney). “Since the commencement of this phase, there has been significant progress on establishing data links with the respective stakeholders through live shipments,” he continues.


Across the hall at DoKaSch Temperature Solutions, the provider of climate-controlled containers for air cargo, the company showcased its popular Opticooler, as it is the core product that they have developed and rent to airlines and forwarders for temperature-sensitive pharma shipments worldwide.

DoKaSch General Manager Andreas Seitz cites several players old and new in the field of pharma transports, as it is an important growth area. “From what we saw at Air Cargo Europe, we are convinced to have one of the safest active containers solutions for pharma transports by air, and our technological edge was confirmed from what I saw in Munich,” he reports.


Digitisation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) were key topics of discussion and certainly at the centre of debate in Munich.  

“Digitisation is nothing new to us,” mentions Seitz, “but when you deal with clients in pharma and aviation, it takes time to implement new technologies.” He says digitisation is all over logistics, but it is important to separate hype from reality, he warns. “Pharma logistics is all about standardisation and certification. Too much is at stake when it comes to the transport of temperature-sensitive goods by air. So, it was good to see all the humming and buzzing about new tech solutions – it shows the forward thinking of the logistics industry.”


At, Claussen says they have been on the forefront of digitising the air cargo industry since its launch in 2018. “Our objective has been to foster development and improvements through technology. As a result, we have changed the previously slow and cumbersome process for the distribution and booking of short term air cargo capacities into an efficient, seamless and user-friendly process.”


Van Haeften from Emirates believes AI is just one amongst the many disruptive technologies that have the potential to usher in efficiencies and benefits for the air cargo industry. “However, we have to match capabilities and requirements carefully before making a choice of new technology.”

He argues that the industry must first look at digitising all aspects of the air cargo business first. “Without this first step, block chain or any other disruptive technology will not be able to deliver its full potential benefits. Air Cargo is a multi-player industry with the air carriers, forwarders, and shippers. There is need for some industry level standardisation for digitisation as information needs to be shared between all parties. But there is no question that we could drive an immense amount of value if we could digitise the entire air cargo supply chain,” Van Haeften explains.


The consensus in Munich was that the overall market conditions remain extremely competitive in the global air cargo industry. There has been a slowdown in global economic activity and a drop-in consumer confidence. Increasing oil price volatility and unfavourable currency fluctuations have also impacted the bottom line.


However, despite these significant headwind’s players such as Emirates SkyCargo have pulled through a strong performance, transporting close to 2.7 million tonnes of cargo and bringing in revenue of U$3.6 billion, a growth of over 1.4% in tonnage and 5% in revenue.

“We had a successful presence at the event,” concludes Van Haeften. “We had a futuristic stand that wowed all our visitors. It was of course a busy few days with back to back meetings but in the end, we were satisfied because our days were productive, and we’ve come out with concrete outcomes.”

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