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And so to Munich, for the biannual transport logistics shindig. It’s big, and busy, and hot. But although the mood is certainly more positive than it was two years ago, deals seem to be thin on the ground – so far.
But it’s early in the week, there’s still everything to play for.

Wednesday kicked off with what must be the shortest conference in the event calendar, a mere two-and-a-half-hour sprint to cover the (many) issues causing the brows of industry leaders to furrow.

Security, inevitably, was the hot topic of the morning. And one which Gacag has put at the heart of its focus. Des Vertannes explained that Gacag has been working on a series of principles by which to implement secure supply chains, which could be used across the industry in a harmonised approach – surely a sensible a start.

But the continued focus of the TSA on screening continues to demand attention and time that the industry can ill afford. As American Airlines Cargo president Dave Brooks pointed out, last year’s Yemen shipment had been screened three times, inspected once, and still got through these rigid checks. Screening is not the only answer.

Brooks, while commending the TSA on its industry consultation and knowledge, made the point that “shipment logic” is one of the most effective ways of increasing security. The knowledge and experience of employees, who can spot when something is out of the ordinary, is crucial, he said.

It’s lucky, perhaps, there were few shipppers in the room. Because when someone asked who would pay for all the security implentations, the answer from the panel of forwarders, airlines and others was clear and uncompromising. “The shipper.”

And of course, it will be the shipper, and ultimately the shopper. But there must come a point when the value proposition of air cargo becomes questionable. When will that be reached? At what point will it become the preserve of only a few, select high-end products, or emergency logistics as costs rise too high for the average air freight shipper?

If all goes well for the industry, that time will never come, and it will remain a crucial tool in supply chain management. “Air cargo drives world trade,” said Des. “The industry has to become more competitive and reduce the cost of its processes. It will become more economical, more competitive and more secure.”

Which, of course, brings us on to e-freight – a tool which will help the industry meet all those aspirations. But we all know about the need for e-freight.  No need to mention it here. Instead, there is just one further point. When asked what he would be doing this week to improve security, AA’s Dave Brooks answered: “Listening. The better informed we are, the more able we are to influence.”

“Listening” was a word you didn’t hear much of a few years ago. Air cargo has come a long way, in mind set at least. There is hope for it yet.

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