From left to right—Dr. Raoul Hille, Managing Director of Hanover Airport; Manfred Kuhne, Director Air Transport at the German Airports Association ADV; Fernando Gonzalez, Manager Key Account Development Automotive Solutions at Kuehne + Nagel; Hendrik Khezri, General Manager Airfreight Germany of forwarding agent Hartrodt; Volker Dunkake, Head of Global Sales and Services of Lufthansa Cargo Charter Agency. The experts didn’t mince matters during a very frank discussion on pressing air freight topics. The subjects at Hanover-held Logistics Network Congress ranged from open security questions, unsolved labor matters, night flight restrictions in Germany and their implications; why air freight has a poor image and what should be done to turn it from negative to positive. Seated on the panel: were Dr. Raoul Hille, Managing Director of Hanover Airport; Manfred Kuhne, Director Air Transport at the German Airports Association ADV; Fernando Gonzalez, Manager Key Account Development Automotive Solutions at Kuehne + Nagel; Hendrik Khezri, General Manager Airfreight Germany of forwarding agent Hartrodt; Volker Dunkake, Head of Global Sales and Services of Lufthansa Cargo Charter Agency. Interviewer was Heiner Siegmund. Around fifty forwarders, handling agents, airline managers and shippers attended the meeting. ACNFT: Is air freight secure in Germany? Hille: The effort the decentralized concept demands from shippers, truckers, agents, airlines, and airports is tremendous and disproportional to the advancement of security. The entire framework is monstrous and proves to be extremely costly. I presume that in the future most shipments will be x-rayed at facilities within the airports or at neighboring warehouses. Here I see some advantage for hubs like Hanover where we have an assessable amount of tonnage that can easily be controlled in contrast to the huge cargo gateways with their masses of freight. Gonzalez: According to the known shipper and regulated agent program, air freight is supposed to be secure, at least officially. The daily reality however shows that this is a distortion of the facts. Kuhne: Yes, shipments are secure according to papers and documents. The issue remains not only one of the major problems in aviation, but through the entire cargo supply chain. Unfortunately, attempts to find manageable solutions always fall on deaf ears when trying to talk to the civil aviation authority LBA. Khezri: Small and medium sized forwarders especially will not be able to pay the huge amounts of cash the regulator demands of them to submit or finance the many mandated training courses for their staff. So at the end of the day, the security regime we currently have to comply with will kill many jobs and drive forwarders into bankruptcy. ACNFT: How about the future of night flights in Germany? Dunkake: The Berlin government’s master plan on logistics and aviation opts for night flights at certain airports… Hille: namely Hanover, Cologne, Leipzig/Halle and Nuremberg. That’s it. At Hanover, we are privileged in some way because our concession for night traffic is grandfathered and dates back to the times of the British occupation right after World War II. Therefore, we are on the safe side and not threatened by any possible curfew. Khezri: In Frankfurt we are already facing a number of bottlenecks. The next one is right at the doorstep with the Federal Judges’ decision on night flights coming up soon. Rhein/Main airport is by far the most important European gateway for cargo. We therefore would suffer a lot if the airport were forced by law to switch off its lights during the nighttime. Kuhne: No doubt, the majority of the German airports, especially Frankfurt, should offer 24/7 traffic. This is a vital issue for shippers that have an interest in rapid and uninterrupted flows of their goods. Germany is one of the strongest export nations, and highly dependent on seamless air transport. Therefore shutting down Frankfurt during the night hours would severely harm the country’s entire economy. Gonzalez: This is, of course, where the shippers can mobilize to take positive action and express their concerns. The leisure industry has to be told that the cost of future travel becomes more expensive if planes can’t depart or land at airports during night hours. I don’t believe they have realized this point so far. ACNFT: Unlike automotive or retail, the broader public in general sees air freight and aviation quite negatively. What must be done? Kuhne: This issue is one of our biggest problems. We are seen as environmental sinners, polluting the air and producing noise. But we are not the environmental devil, as some are seeing us – that’s what we have got to clarify. Hille: An ICE speed train running from Hanover to Munich needs an equal amount of energy per passenger as an Airbus A380. The tracks divide landscapes and forests. Airports don’t. Sustainability is something else. This difference is only one example out of many. That’s precisely what we have to communicate in a public dialogue. Khezri: Again, we need to do this in a unified manner with the shippers on board as well. It’s mainly up to them (as they are the direct link) for the sake of the wellbeing of the entire supply chain, to convince people to change their attitude about the necessity and importance of air cargo transport. ACNFT: low and lower wages on one side, ever improved quality of the supply chain on the other. Can this work? Khezri: We put price constraints on our handling agents. But then our shippers place demands on us as well, urging us to deliver more for less. Unfortunately, this downward pressure keeps spiraling. Gonzalez: I don’t believe people can really be motivated to do a good job if their wages are between 6.0 and 6.5 euros per hour. Under these conditions the negatives are enormous. It is my belief that fair pay results in a competitive advantage, since breadline wages cause higher spending at the end of the day. ACNFT: Finally, what positive news can you deliver? Hille: Air freight will go on growing in the coming decades, making it one of the most dynamic industries in Germany and elsewhere. Kuhne: No means of traffic is going to be as energy efficient as aviation. A reduction of green house gases by 50% by 2050 is foreseen with the introduction of bio fuels. We should come out with the slogan “Flying saves the environment.” Gonzalez: Transport will always be necessary. That’s a great perspective for people seeking jobs. Khezri: Plus, versatility is what is being offered by the transport industry and logistics, be it air freight, ocean freight, land or rail transports. We are a highly globalized industry. So everybody working in this challenging biz can interact with other cultures, learn new languages and work for some time abroad. Dunkake: We are not the old, dirty and noisy industry any more. Instead, aviation and logistics in general are highly innovative. This is fascinating and extremely thrilling for young people who are starting their career. But with the fast growing economies of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries there are looming challenges around the corner for the EU and ‘logistics world champion’ Germany specifically. Therefore, we need to constantly enhance our infrastructure and refrain from closing big airports at night. 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Julian Bray writes: I've just watched passengers video footage of a so called mutiny on board the Norwegian Spirit and the live comment...