|Vol. 22 No. 10||
Friday March 17, 2023
Air cargo great Sean McCool (pictured here with his son Ian) at 91 looks ahead this Saint Patrick’s Day 2023 to turning 92 in April.
Well, we can certainly wish this great man and Patriarch of Irish transportation Happy Birthday and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.
Good to share that the green stripe runs down the middle of 5th Avenue in Manhattan ready for the big parade in the City that never sleeps, where on March 17th everybody’s Irish!
Sean, now as a retired “non-voting” CEO of International Airline Marketing Limited, (IAM) the company he created is not only a remarkable story in the history of transportation in Ireland, but also of the world.
Sean has been somewhere in the mix for air cargo in Ireland for the past 70 years and some of those years included time he spent with his good friend, the late Richard Malkin, and others making the case for the formation of Shannon Airport itself.
There-in lies a wee bit of a wow factor!
Sean is rightfully honored universally as one of the true pioneers, thinkers and acheivers in the history of Irish air transportation.
Today son, Ian who serves as Managing Director of IAM shines through guiding the company to new heights with an offering that although situate in a compact market, has gained global admiration for its service, with imagination, and a caring, yet professional style that obviously runs in the family.
In 2023, IAM serves American Airlines, Etihad, Air Canada and All Nippon Airways, to name but a few.
“IAM is Ireland’s largest Air Cargo General Sales and Service Agent (GSSA), responsible for overall about a quarter of all airfreight traffic from Ireland.
“Ireland is a remote Island state on the outskirts of Europe. It is a 17 hour ferry journey to Continental Europe. Thus the importance of air connectivity is key.
Ireland is now the only country in the EU with English as its first language. Ireland is in a unique position in the world. It is a key part of one of the largest markets in the world, the European Union and has very strong/long standing business/political connections with the U.S.
“What makes Ireland so attractive is that both Dublin and Shannon offer preclearance to the U.S. Currently there are 770 US multinational companies based in Ireland. 12.6% of all U.S. FDI to Europe comes to Ireland. With these numbers and the global trend looking at near-shoring, Ireland is well placed to increase its already strong position as one the leading countries of US FDI in Europe and the world.
“Our GSSA fits in beautifully in Ireland where during the pandemic exports of pharmaceuticals were crucial,” Ian said.
“The Irish market is slightly different to many other European markets with a large percentage of the market coming from the Pharma sector and requiring special handling, care and attention.
“For us, as the face of the airlines we never forget how important our customers are.
“We hold our market based on service, period.
“It is top-class service otherwise, we cannot survive.”
Delivering no excuse service as the best excuse father to son, the IAM team continues to energize between 22% and 30% of the air export market from Ireland.
“We have a lot of work ahead this year,” Ian declared, “with a schedule ahead of pre-Covid levels with our wide body capacity as well as a number of key narrow body European destinations served from DUB.
“Although there is a lot of uncertainty as to what 2023 has in store for the industry, we are very optimistic.
“Our capacity goes from 19 widebodies to 49 widebodies per week plus the re-start of a number on niche narrow body routes ex DUB. The year started well with average January and then our busiest February ever, with limited capacity.
“IAM has also started working with a number of airlines partners offering unique capacity ex the UK and Continental Europe. Most of our partner carriers we truck to in LHR, are close to getting back to pre-covid levels of flying and are working closely with us to build on their previous market share levels,” Ian said.
The overall air cargo market from Ireland has changed dramatically over the last three years.
Total Air exports from Ireland, excluding integrators:
2019 63,670,000 kgs
2020 47,100,000 kgs
2021 48,100,000 kgs
2022 55,200,000 kgs
Industry pundits are using terms like fragile and uncertain to describe the market. Those seem to ring clear. Global inventory levels remain high and demand has slowed. Sea freight congestion/delays have eased. Internationally Covid restrictions have all ceased and there is increased air capacity. Inflation and interest rates remain high. The war in Ukraine shows no sign of settlement and there are other regions of political unrest. Add to that global warming and related weather disruptions. Overall, the perfect storm for a slow market.
“Supply and demand is a key economic factor in every industry. Increased supply and decreased demand tends to result in reduced prices. As an industry we have to be agile and manage the ever-changing market conditions.
“The one thing that Covid times have taught us is the importance of good relationships, quality and reliability of service,” Ian reiterated.
“We are noticing some increases in products now moving by air that we had not seen during the restricted capacity/high yield period of Covid.
“As market rates soften, the volumes of more general cargo show indications of increasing.
“We are also seeing that as a result of the role cargo played during the Covid crisis that the input of the cargo department within most airlines remains a key influence on route elevation.
“Airport authorities also continue to engage with the air cargo community as they now realize the importance of this sector to not just the airport authority, but also the potential economic development and expansion of a city or territory.
“Industry organizations and aviation industry leaders have a role to play in assuring that cargo continues to have a say,” Ian said, adding:
“Air Cargo got its place at the top table for the first time in many years, so bravo to those industry leaders who realize what a long journey it is to where we are today whilst securing a future with air cargo evolving on all fronts including partnerships and cooperations, customer services, digitalization and sustainability.”
A relatively new Italian writer, Beppe Sebaste, in 2008 published a book with a curious title: “Panchine”, i.e. park benches in Italian: an unusual book with no real plot, but with the declared purpose of “getting out of this world without getting out of it”.
In his book, Sebaste describes the magnificence of the surroundings of some of the most iconic benches in Europe, touching unparalleled artistic genius: the author’s description of the benches in Rome’s gardens is pure poetry. So is the description of two small benches in Geneva, where his son was studying at the time. But Geneva is also the place where the word “bench” finds an unexpected term of excellence. The longest park bench in the world, as noted in the Guinness World Records: le Banc de la Treille is precisely in Geneva and, albeit only in French, enriches the city website with a qualified description.
Obviously there are thousands of other reasons why visiting Geneva is well worth the effort, but in my view this is a rather original one and for sure worth it. That is where I am heading today Friday, but the reason why I am packing to get to Geneva on 17th of March is of course another and has to do with FIATA, the all-time object of my attentions.
Despite being now retired, I have kept my contacts with the many friends, and I make it a point to attend FIATA’s events whenever convenient. The next one coming up this week-end is the traditional spring meeting at the FIATA Headquarters (HQ). As FIATA’s very efficient communication team puts it, “this will be a unique opportunity to network with old and new acquaintances and familiarise yourself with the surroundings.”
The HQ was originally just for association members to discuss their most important issues and keep delegates up to date with the policy items that were hitting the tables of the UN, but in the years it has been climbing to the level of an important spring gathering in international freight forwarding and logistics. It boasts an interesting programme of speakers and, while still being an event for FIATA Members, it manages to gather a growing number of participants, which comes as no surprise, given the numbers in FIATA’s membership base. Geneva is relatively close to Turin, where I live now, reachable in a few hours by car or train, despite the two cities being at either sides of the Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe.
In preparation of my arrival I had the opportunity to speak briefly with my great friend Ivan Petrov, who is the President of FIATA, and I am happy to share with our readers a short statement I have captured in the conversation. “The highly anticipated FIATA Headquarters meeting of 2023 marks a return to fully in-person meetings focusing on strengthening the bonds between FIATA’s global membership as we prepare to ‘Navigate Uncertainty.’ The work of FIATA this year will be led by the Mission, Vision and Values defined by the FIATA Presidency which was translated into 44 priorities for the Headquarters Team to focus on. I am proud to welcome FIATA Members from more than 60 countries who are attending this year’s meeting, with 33 hours of sessions, to witness the transformational growth the organisation has had since the Reset Programme, and to contribute to the various discussions and workshops to foster the knowledge of its members to ensure a sustainable and resilient supply chain.”
This is a statement you can take seriously. FIATA has managed to pull together a programme that will kindle the appetite of its members and their guests. President Petrov will open the HQ as tradition imposes, and our celebrated friend Jan Hoffmann (please, read his interview in one of the previous issues of the FlyingTypers) will be in charge of the keynote, portraying an up-to-date picture of global trade and logistics as only an institution like UNCTAD can.
The Multimodal Transport Institute (MTI) will then occupy the stage with a one-and-a-half-hour workshop on the following topics: 'Transport shifts and new corridors' and the 'Assessment of global drivers’ shortages from FIATA`s perspective'. The workshop will feature personalities of gravitas: Mr Roel Janssens, Secretary to the Working Party on Transport Trends, UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), Mr Philip Van Den Bosch, Senior Freight Strategy Advisor, UIC (International Union of Railways), Mr Murat Seitnepesov, Chairman of the Board, Caspian Container Company SA and Mr Jens Hügel, Senior Adviser at IRU (International Road Transport Union).
Interesting sessions for all FIATA regions are scattered throughout the programme, as FIATA caters for an unparalleled array of nations, habits, colours and cultures and despite the specialised nature of the conversations, which obviously embrace logistics issues, each region has its own specific way of sharing experiences and enriching the regions’ participants’ package for their future homework.
For the accompanying persons, FIATA has arranged a pleasant daily programme that in my view is worth a visit to Geneva on its own. On Monday the participants will benefit from a really unique Geneva attraction: a visit to the UN Geneva headquarters, which will also provide a glimpse to distinctive points of interest: the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilisations Room, decorated by the famous artist Miquel Barcelò, the library of the Palais des Nations, the UN Museum of Geneva, a Part of the Ariana Park and the monument commemorating the conquest of outer space, the Council Chamber, where many important historical negotiations have taken place, with murals by José Maria Sert. This exclusive offer will be followed by a visit to the Red Cross Museum in the following morning.
For the active delegates, with the Advisory Body Information Technology (ABIT), the programme becomes more and more interesting with windows opening onto the most topical issues of modernisation and the future of logistics: the ‘Impact of new technologies’ will be debated by James Coombes, CEO, Raft; Jules Courtois, Founder and CEO, Green Future; Roman Heimgartner, Head of Digital, AELER and Thierry Moreno, CEO, NV Logistics, who participate in ABIT’s Innovation and Artificial Intelligence Panel. AI is one of the hottest topics in the policy rooms of the institutions. Perhaps a belated understanding of developments that have already taken place, rather than an attempt to put the issue in an orderly frame, in any case a hot potato for members to handle and debate.
The last day of this very attractive edition of the FIATA HQ will feature the much appreciated FIATA learning programmes’ panels and the International Affairs Advisory Body. I do not think I am allowed to say that this saves the best for the last, because everything else is also interesting for professionals in logistics, but FIATA training programmes have been a world standard for decades and members’ interest in the training qualifications is an ever green that knows no retreat. At four p.m. President Petrov will draw the gathering to a close and delegates will be free to join their families and friends who came to visit and enjoy even more attractions in Geneva and the diverse and spectacular geography of its surroundings. The still immaculate view of the Alps, when they eventually fly back home, will add a finishing touch to the picture of this remarkable excursion.
Let me stop this long list of impressive initiatives here, with apologies to those who have not been mentioned, but this programme is so rich that it can hardly fit in an article. My choices were not based on the individual importance of the topics and speakers, rather my limited viewpoint, based on my memories and perceptions, may have prevailed. I am sure this year’s FIATA HQ will be an eventful meeting and a good opportunity to once again renew the strong bond that FIATA Members foster as a group. This is why we all go back to FIATA’s conventions every year and participate so keenly in the deliberations. We share our knowledge and experience and learn so much in return that we are even surprised and grateful for this opportunity, which allows each and every FIATA Member to emerge stronger together.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is back in full swing with the traditional route down 5th Avenue in Manhattan today March 17, 271 years and counting. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Celebrate with us and the Irish Tenors, click on the photo above or here.
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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
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