15th Air Cargo Americas - Business as usual?
The last two editions of Air Cargo Americas, when compared, seem to reflect the current situation in the industry very aptly. What else did we take home with us from the meetings, other than the bare figures? Will the best come after the end this time?
Participants’ hopes for a high at the end of the year was tangible in the two halls of the Miami Airport Convention Center, which welcomed the morning’s conference programme and the afternoon’s trade fair from 29 to 31 October.
Very few people I spoke to at the trade event would have claimed that the airfreight industry is on a permanently downward trajectory. Rather, they believe the industry is caught in the midst of an economic downturn that will be followed by another counter-movement – only when?
September’s figures for the airfreight performance of Iata’s North American members dropped by 4.2%, according to information published by Iata at the beginning of November. The stats also showed that Iata’s Latin American members’ performances fell by only 0.2%, compared to the same month last year. All in all, this can be considered quite a success in view of the overall global development (–4.5%).
The two regions that the event in ‘Latin America’s northernmost metropolis’ focused on performed both better and worse when the figures for the entire year so far are considered. Globally, volumes fell by 3.5%. For North America the decline stood at 1.2% below the previous year’s – which was a particularly good figure – as I’d once again like to remind you. Latin America even came in at 0.9% above it.
The exhibitor and visitor figures reported by the World Trade Center Miami, the organiser of the Air Cargo Americas meeting, are similarly double-edged.
The decline in the number of exhibitors from 124 two years ago to 110 this year is offset by an increase vis-à-vis 2017 of more than 400 visitors (from 72 countries) to more than 4,500 attendees. So what makes the event so attractive?
Most of the discussions, moderated by experts such as Miami airport’s Jimmy Nares and Emir Pineda, or PayCargo’s Lionel van der Walt (far left in the picture), brought the issues at the heart of the Americas’ airfreight industry to the point with aplomb.
One interesting development we heard about concerned how a pre-clearance customs programme for the Brazilian post office (see also page 5 of the Aviation Special in ITJ 9-10 / 2019), which was first provided for the e-commerce segment, is now being extended to other fields, and making the overall flow of goods faster, cheaper and simpler.
The debate, originally set to address e-commerce in Latin America, however, lost its focus somewhat and ended up looking into the general situation of the sector. On top of this, a few more women on the podium would have been welcome.
Busy, busy, busy at the airport
There was little sign of such underrepresentation in the neighbouring hall, where many a stand wanted to reflect the atmosphere of the Brazilian or Caribbean carnivals. The fair also offered an opportunity for an exchange of views with the representatives of players that may operate internationally, but not (yet?) outside of the Americas. These included Stratair from Florida and Aercaribe.
The latter is based in Colombia, as is Avianca, which has ambitions to expand into Europe. It placed its new route to and from Dallas TX (USA) in the foreground of its trade fair presence (see also page 19 of ITJ 39-40 / 2019).
In the week following the fair, Miami airport reported another highlight (see also ITJ Daily of 8 November 2019). The US airport with the highest international freight volume (1.95 million t) has returned to Lufthansa Cargo’s network after more than 25 years.
It remains to be seen whether the event will be able to maintain its legitimacy and its standing when Tiaca starts organising its Air Cargo Forum in Miami Beach every even year from next November. It additionally plans to expand it into a multimodal trade fair.
It is entirely conceivable that Air Cargo Americas will subsequently concentrate on its regional character and thus become less interesting for exhibitors and visitors from overseas. But what I said at the beginning applies here too – we’ll see. Perhaps we’ll even meet there again.