Vol. 9 No. 98                                            WE COVER THE WORLD                                         Monday August 23, 2010

 

 

     Just a few months ago (on May 3, to be exact) we sat enraptured at CNS, listening to Dr. Andreas Otto, (left) Lufthansa Cargo, as he expressed some new ideas – the most important being a joint airline/forwarder formulation of industry concerns in political forums.
     Dr. Otto saw CNS well positioned in such a role in countries other than the USA.
Jo Frigger, CEO of EmoTrans, remarked at the time that IATA de facto suppressed CNS-type developments worldwide.
     Lastly, at the end of the session, the current CNS president, Michael Vorwerk, diplomatically promised to take the subject up with the powers that be.
     It would seem that three months might be the right amount of time for a follow up in terms of what IATA will and will not do. On June 9, 2010, Des Vertannes was inaugurated as global head of cargo at IATA.
     His boss Aleks Popovich posted an announcement at the time, but nothing further has been heard since.
     The progression here reminds us of that famous boxing match between Mohammed Ali and George Forman, when Ali utilized a style of pugilism while also coining the term rope-a-dope – he assumed a protected stance, lying against the ropes, allowing his opponent to hit him.
     Eventually, Forman punched himself out and Ali knocked him for a loop.
     Taking the measure of the larger market for a moment, it’s been business as usual so far; the summer of 2010 was punctured only by U.S. cargo screening becoming a reality, and that was fairly uneventful.
     It’s worth noting that despite all that has been written and despite tries at agitation, cooperation and cool heads got the screening job done.
     The upcoming 4th quarter peak season will be the reality check, but thus far we’ve only been shown that the key participants in the air cargo chain prevailed.
     Can we jump to the conclusion that when a government mandate sets the schedule, things happen?
     That would miss a big portion of the entire picture, in our view.
     A deadline from a powerful regulatory authority sharpens the mind, gives focus and, in this case, despite misgivings, worries and costs, several entities were actually up and running before the due date.
     Apparently where there is a will, there is a way.
     But back to our first point.
 

Generations—Jenni Frigger Latham & Jo Frigger, The EMO Trans Team at CNS 2010.

     What about IATA spreading the CNS Partnership concept to Europe and possibly elsewhere?
     Lufthansa Cargo is a recognized heavyweight in the industry and a person of Dr. Otto’s stature commands attention.
     We wanted to get an update and requested an interview with Mr. Vorwerk, but as of this writing, no response has been received.
     It’s one thing that the CNS president isn’t responsive to the trade press, but what about the constituency at large?
     CNS is IATA; therefore, the larger question is why hasn’t there been any official reaction to this initiative that was brought front and center at the 2010 CNS Partnership Conference?
     Beyond a guest editorial in the CNS Focus’ summer edition “CNS Must Go Beyond,” which reported the specific recommendation made in the keynote speech by Dr. Otto as “… an unexpected stone into the waters…” there’s been deafening silence.
     We can’t help but wonder why?
     There are several factors that warrant closer inspection.
     Is there anything threatening, offensive or unpalatable to IATA in taking the CNS-concept global?
     Too busy with too many other major issues?
     Another point often repeated is that in the end “IATA is the airlines.”
     The reality is that IATA is a reflection of the passenger driven airlines business, with cargo relegated to a distant cousin status. While somewhat understandable in the days when cargo was a department and not a legal entity in its own right, it’s a bit harder to accept the status quo when there is a Lufthansa Cargo, a Cargolux, FedEx and UPS as significant players.
     FedEx this year provides the IATA chairman and also chairs the Cargo Services Conference.
     So come on down IATA, and answer the question:
     Why is cargo underrepresented?
     The bare fact is that in 2010, IATA is a top-down driven secretariat that, in our view, does its best to manipulate the organization to suit its objectives with populist claims, which are hard to qualify and to measure, and reportedly ‘save the industry’ billions of dollars annually.
     Never mind the cost.
     The real issue is that the airlines have done little to put the existing control mechanisms to good use in pursuit of their common interests.
     Although the governance is skewed in favor of the secretariat, the airlines fail to exert real pressure on the IATA management echelon.
     Take the IATA “Industry Distribution and Financial Services Division” (IDFS), which has been operational since 1999 and for the longest time mirrored the passenger and cargo services conference structure respectively with bank settlement plans (BSP) for the passenger business and cargo accounts settlement systems (CASS).
     IATA can’t seem to help but methodically and insistently insert itself rather than just represent the interests of the airlines. Although the two are distinctly different and require domain specific knowledge and expertise that involve dissimilar disciplines, agents and partners, IATA has embarked on “simplifying” and “cost-effectiveness” and has been merging the management into a single person.
     IATA, it can be said, apparently has never heard or pays little heed to Einstein’s famous quote –
“Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler!”
     The result is something that can satisfy neither.
     Rather than doing the best to serve the airline members, the case for representing those interests rings a bit hollow.
     Transparency is another example.
     Why make such a big mystery out of the membership of the cargo committee whose identities are ‘secret?’
     Try to find the names on the IATA web site! Or a structure that doesn’t lend itself to having the heads of cargo exercise any direct control over the conference processes, beyond directing their respective delegates?
In the world of cargo, Lufthansa carries a pretty big stick.
     Let’s assume Dr. Otto got a number of other top airline executives involved and convinced them that globalizing the CNS concept would be a useful and powerful platform to serve as a single common voice for cargo.
     There might be some reluctance and oversensitivity of being accused (again, following the fuel surcharge scandal) of cartel-like activities by overzealous regulators.
     The airline/forwarder relationship has always been delicate; it is one which requires constant attention and nurturing and when a progressive initiative is voiced at a high level cargo conference with a look toward taking this partnership to the next step, it is disturbing that the very same organization purporting to represent the industry remains passive and unresponsive.
     Air Cargo News FlyingTypers hopes we can receive some readers’ feedback from all concerned to shed some light and other thoughts on the situation.
     If air cargo is to expand good ideas like CNS, this is no time to dumb down.
Ted Braun/Geoffrey

 

 

 

Courageous Carine Lives Her Dream

     Starting your own forwarding enterprise at a time when the global market is facing collapse is a risky project that undoubtedly requires lots of guts, determination, and confidence. Carine Zablit is blessed with all these qualities; without them, she would have shelved plans to establish Fast Mondial GmbH in March 2009, a Frankfurt-based forwarding agency.
     Sixteen months have gone by since then.
     In the meantime, Carine knows her courage has paid off, the daily proof being her thriving business, which is on fire with double-digit growth figures.
     “Up to today, exactly 765,403 kilograms of exports have been flown by airlines on our behalf,” she told Air Cargo News FlyingTypers recently. That’s far above the assumptions filed in her enterprise’s original business plan. Next, she expects her firm to be listed as an IATA agent, which she thinks will happen in the fall.
     The entrepreneur, Lebanon-born in 1969, is one of the very rare female managers in Germany (and in Europe, or that matter) possessing and running a forwarding agency. At the fragile age of 16, she fled Beirut because of the civil war that threatened many parts of the once blooming country and caused a high toll of casualties among civilians. She went to France for school, studying psychology at the University of Nice. A short stay in Paris was followed by a move to Germany where she has lived since 1999.
     What Carine likes and admires most about Germany is the reliability the people show in every day life and the efficient way business is organized and conducted. Appreciating these qualities, she says, “Sometimes I think that I’m even more German than the Germans themselves.” Maybe it is because of these matching habitual norms that she decided to settle, start her own biz, and not return to France.
     “I always dreamed of having my own enterprise one day,” Carine says, revealing her long-time vision. The plan ripened step by step during the last couple of months when she was working as export manager at a local Frankfurt forwarding agent. Together with two other clerks, she left their employer and decided to start as a team from scratch.
     “So we had a lot of expertise at Fast Mondial right from the very first day, which proved to be extremely fruitful,” Carine says, looking back. Most helpful were the many connections and solid market insights they possessed and could utilize at Fast Mondial from the very beginning. A big asset was also their knowledge of English and French, which each of them (plus a fourth export manager that was employed shortly after the founding of the agency) speaks fluently in addition to German.
     Curiously enough, the newcomer got its first shipping order three days before official admission as agent. It was a 3,075 kilogram shipment from food producer Nestlé that had to be flown to Abidjan in the Ivory Coast.
     “Because we were not officially licensed yet, and hence not allowed to fill out and sign any air waybill, we asked our partner, K-Logistik Aviation Service, for help and to take care of the documentation,” she confides, describing the unique circumstances of the initial cargo transport Fast Mondial had acquired.
     Ever since then, the agent has concentrated on two key markets – the Levant region in the Middle East (plus West) and Central Africa. There is a lot of potential, especially in places like Angola, Niger, Mali or the Congo with growing air freight volumes at pretty healthy rates. But a lot of expertise is required to establish endurable business relations in most of the African countries: Are local warehouses equipped with cool rooms? What are the requirements of the local customs authorities? Do airlines and their forwarders offer road feeder for transporting imports to remote places in the hinterland? This is basic information a European exporter and his agent should possess before sending goods by plane to places in sub-Sahara. Otherwise, a rude awakening could be the consequence.
     “In addition to our regional concentration on some of the African markets and the Levant, we constantly increase our cross trading portion,” Carine explains. This includes air freight transports from North America to Africa, from China to consignees in Togo, Angola or the Republic of Cameroon, or from Brazil to South Africa.
     To put it simply, while Fast Mondial is a rather small player, they nevertheless have made it to the global stage.
Heiner Siegmund/Flossie Arend


Tulsi Mirchandaney


Olga Pleshakova


Lucy Ntuba


Lina Rutkauskien


Tammy Zwicki &
Monika Lutz


Ann Smirr

Lise Marie Turpin

Suzan Tarabish
i

Marina Marzani

Karen Rondino

Susanne Keimel

Sheryle Burger

Maria Schmucker

Michelle Wilkinson

Beti Sue Ward

Donna Mullins

Alexandra Ulm

Maria Muller

Iwona Korpalska

Lisa Schoppa

Gloria Whittington

Cathy Hanna

Anita Khurana

Salma Ali Saif Bin Hareb

 


Gabriela Ahrens

Lisa Wilczek

Batool Hussain Ali

Karen Avestruz

 

 

Champ To The Rescue In Nigeria

     Nigeria is acknowledged as a thriving although somehow complicated market place.
     Latest challenge arose July 14th, when the country’s customs authority suddenly announced new cargo reporting rules with very short notice. So little in fact, that “some carriers were forced to cancel flights or place an embargo on shipments destined to Nigeria,” reports Marketing Manager Peter Walter (right) of Luxembourg-based Champ Cargosystems.
     Acccording to the new rules & regulations, an electronic manifest must be submitted to Nigerian Customs prior to any flight departing for Nigeria.
     The demand “caught the international cargo community totally by surprise,” recalls James Fernandez, (left) Champ’s VP Sales and Marketing.
     However, the confusion lasted only a couple of days, at least amongst those carriers that utilize the integrated software solutions offered by Champ which in 2010 includes over 80 airlines and 200 customers worldwide, including forwarders, general sales agents, ground handlers, and other service providers.
     So with seven of Champ’s airline clients operating to and from Nigeria impacted by the new rules here came a Champ solution.
     To prevent further delays and enable carriers seamless traffic flows to the West African country the data transmitter quickly integrated the new regulations in its existing Global Customs Gateway which is a cornerstone of the Champ product portfolio.
     “We first had some test runs of electronic manifesting with our client Cargolux with satisfying results fully complying with the Nigerian new information system,” states Fernandez.
     Meantime out there in customer country, Robert van de Weg, Senior VP Sales & Marketing Cargolux was quick to point out:
     “Thanks to the quick and accurate response by Champ we were able to resume our Nigerian operation.
     “This was a real achievement.”
     According to IATA statistics air freight in Africa climbed 54 percent in June year-on-year.
     “Given that growth, no carrier wants to be blocked from this important market,” says Champ manager Fernandez.
     The United States was first to demand Advanced Customs Information (ACI), following the 9/11 attacks.
     Other countries followed including Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa, and now (as everyone learned all of a sudden last month) Nigeria.
Heiner Siegmund

 

 


Bird's Eye View Of The Peace

       The courtyard of a small hotel at Cargo City Süd Frankfurt Airport, Sunday, August 22, early morning. Small round tables like yellow suns are circled by wood-planked chairs, giving a feeling of nature in the city. Inter City Hotel is a venue known for its obelisk, a stylized sculpture of the world that once sat just outside the main passenger terminal at FRA during the 1930s, near a reflecting pool.
       At one time, the bird atop the structure was an eagle - a great symbol of power, dominance, and freedom. But that was a different time, a time when war always felt just around the corner.
        Now, the dove of peace is nestled atop the globe, protecting it with a gilded olive branch in it’s beak, ever vigilant should the tides change once again.
       This is a tranquil and wonderfully historic hotel & restaurant, smack dab in the middle of the most important cargo area in Europe. Berlin Airlift airplanes are so close you can touch them and bid Ein Prosit to the day in the JU52 saloon just off the hotel lobby.


 

 

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