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Leaders of the Air Cargo Industry Come Face-to-Face

Straddling the picturesque Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, renowned as the City of Angels, the 7th annual Air Cargo Handling Conference was held at the Shangri-La Hotel on the 1st- 3rd September 2015. This successful event was sponsored by Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) and Bangkok Flight Services (BFS). This year’s ACH Conference marked the first time ever that an Asian city was chosen to stage this event. Previous six fruitful conferences were held in European cities.

Distinguished guests and top decision makers of the air cargo industry collectively landed in Bangkok. The event took off with a flurry of welcoming speeches made and rounded off with applause complemented by sumptuous foods and refreshments. This year’s unique elements included one-to-one meetings, specifically designed for delegates to participate more actively and for the purpose of holding productive meetings, along with fostering new networks and building upon old ones.

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The conference was opened by John Batten, Chairman of this year’s conference and Executive VP Business Development, Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) who warmly welcomed delegates and honored guests to this year’s conference.

Panel discussions were the conference’s main highlight. However, workshops and seminars gathered numerous delegates for lively discussions and presentations that sped by during the very first day. The mentioned presentations covered the latest developments in the air cargo industry, delving into airport cargo processors, concentrating on improving quality and standards, increasing the industry’s effectiveness and efficiency, as well as showcasing case studies and zeroing in upon the trending topics. Exhibits and stands also lined the event’s corridor.

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Bangkok Flight Services (BFS), one of the main sponsors of the event.

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A very comfortable display from Jettainer.

The pre-conference’s various panels and presentations were commendable. One of the topics of the day included discussions surrounding ULDs. The meeting marked the first time ULDs and cargo handlers gathered for a frank discussion which outlined responsibilities and ULD transfers. Moreover, another fascinating meeting that took off during the first day concerned Pharmaceuticals. The meeting discussed the various issues concerning pharmaceutical cargo and the best way to raise standards and implement them.

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Mr. Chris Notter, VP Operations at Saudi Airlines Cargo, is Chief Moderator of the conference.

The conference’s first day held a discussion of the ways handlers have changed in the previous year to help meet their customers’ evolving needs as well as improving efficiency and productivity. The aforementioned presentations also dealt with the question of the monitoring of SLAs and whether standardization is feasible.

Click Play to listen to some of Mr. Patrik O. Tschirch, Managing Director and COO of LUG aircargo handling GmbH’s comments on ‘Handling Change’.

Moreover, the issue also raised the questions of its procedures and whether it could be simplified and broken down further. The speeding of handling processes were also covered as well as the various ways the system could be improved in the future. More so, the event also featured a yearly roundup review of COAG which described the organization’s tasks, challenges, and progress in the last year.

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Mr. John Batten, Executive Vice President, Business Development for Worldwide Flight Services (WFS), and Conference Chairman shares his opinion in a Q&A session.

Mr. John Batten, Chairman of ACH Conference made his closing remarks late in the afternoon, and ushered everyone to the evening’s Gala Dinner which was held at the Royal Navy Convention, overlooking the majestic Grand Palace opposite the rolling Chao Phraya River. No conference is ever truly complete without a lavish dinner coupled by extravagant surroundings. This year’s ACH Conference’s Gala Dinner was situated amidst the backdrop of the flowing Chao Phraya River along with the famed Emerald Temple overlooking the premises. Guests queued up and boarded on boats which took them to the Royal Navy Convention Hall where they were welcomed with children presenting traditional floral garlands and lovely exhibits depicting Thai culture. Sumptuous food and wine flowed plentifully, but the highlight of the evening was the charity auction, of which the proceeds raised were donated to The Foundation for the Slum Child Care in Bangkok, and Old MacDonald’s Farm in Lusaka, Zambia.

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1-2-1 Meetings – a popular function of the event.

The final day of the ACH Conference took off with a hard talk Question time with senior individuals in the industry. Distinguished guests included: Mr. David Ambridge, General Manager, Bangkok Flight Services-Cargo, who served as the panel’s moderator, Mr. Henrik Ambak, SVP, Cargo Operations Worldwide, Emirates Skycargo, Mr. Glyn Hughes, Global Head, Cargo, IATA, and Mr. Tan Chee Hong, Chief Operating Officer, HACTL.

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Mr. David Ambridge, General Manager, Bangkok Flight Services (BFS) Cargo speaks about ‘COAG: One year On’ and is also one of the moderators of the panel discussions.

The leaders of air cargo operations and handling industry answered a plethora of questions posed by the audience. The topics tackled consisted of ways to speed up the air cargo handling chain to make it more seamless and efficient as well as the obstacles to having pre-clearance air freight. Other issues covered include: making progress with e-AWB and ways to take out cost and improve overall quality.

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Mr. John DeBenedette, Managing Director, Worldwide Information Network (WIN) talks about Best Practices in e-AWB implementation and what’s the hold-up?

A discussion into improving cargo at Heathrow Airport also gripped the audience’s attention. The above issue zeroed in the evolving plans for the airport’s gateway as well as outlining various priorities for Heathrow airport.

Another crucial feature of the conference included a feedback on COAG. The feedback reflected upon the various topics and discussions within the conference. Questions posed comprised of the various ways COAG can better contribute to the development of operational excellence as well as improving its standards and quality.

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The ACH Conference’s closing remarks were made after a very successful day. Mr. John Batten and Mr. Chris Notter, VP Operations, Saudi Airlines Cargo made their closing remarks, read out action points, and underscored the industry’s three smart goals. The conference then concluded with much pomp and circumstance along with the promise to attend another event the following year.

Overall, the Air Cargo Handling Conference held in Bangkok for the first time has been a success. It is a welcome departure from previous conferences both in scope and the topics dealt with. The informal atmosphere designed for participating delegates was unique and contributed to the positive gatherings of the industry’s leaders.

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As the conference drew to a close, and as various delegates scuttled off in different directions, luggage in hand, one can draw a certain level of optimism and the deep level of knowledge gained along with various friendships made. We can all be confident that, the following year, in a new city, will such important topics once again be wrestled with, for the betterment of the industry and most of all, for the end customers who stand to derive all the benefits gained from the successful conferences.