Air Cargo India pioneered the unique concept of putting shippers at the heart of air cargo supply chain conversations. At the recent Air Shippers’ Forum, during ACI 2016, they steered the discussion with other key stakeholders including regulators. Twinkle Sahita
“Pattern of global trade has seen a fundamental change. We are in a precarious position as Indian exports are constantly down for over a year,” said M Thakur, joint director general of Foreign Trade, Government of India, during his keynote address at the Air Shippers’ Forum on the second day of the sixth edition of AIR CARGO INDIA at Grand Hyatt in Mumbai last month.
“But there is one thing that makes me happy about this scenario. The reason for the decline in fall in Indian exports is not because of the infrastructure constraints or the usual challenges faced by the country, it is because of the contraction in global demand and devaluation of Chinese currency, and that is not something in our hands,” continued Thakur.
Commenting on the role of automation in supply chain, one of the panelists for the session, Satya Prasad Sahu, commissioner (Information Technology) Central Board of Excise & Customs, Ministry of Finance, urged the need for all ground handling agents to have the same level of automation. He said, “We need to make sure that the benchmark performances are delivered by all the ground handling agents equally. The custom systems are in readiness and able to support all of these operations.”
When one of the attendees raised the question whether with the emergence of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, the process of handling air cargo be uniform across the major six cities in India; Pramod Sant, vice president, head of Import, Export Control, Customs, South Asia Cluster, Siemens, a key Indian shipper on the panel answered, “The services by customs, handling agency or freight forwarders that you get in Mumbai followed by Delhi will always be higher than any other cities in India as the customer expectations in these cities are high. The collaboration between all stakeholders involved in the supply chain is trying to meet customers’ expectations in the major cities. It may happen that other cities are gearing up to improve their infrastructure. However, if other cities also implement faster and efficient processes, then other cities can also be among these who manage to carry out the process of handling air cargo at a faster pace.”
Themed “Forum for facilitating Indian exporters and importers” the Air Shippers’ Forum was hosted by Frankfurt Airport and supported by the Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO). There was a huge turnout, particularly from Indian air shippers’ community. Of the total 140 participants present for the session, 85 of them were shippers representing different export segments from around the country.
There were also other air cargo industry stakeholders from around the world present for the one-of-its-kind forum launched by STAT Media Group at the fifth edition of AIR CARGO INDIA in 2014. The unique concept was also tried out in the third edition of AIR CARGO AFRICA in 2015 in Johannesburg.
“The ‘Shippers’ Forum’ exceeded our expectations in many ways,” said Dirk Schusdziara, senior vice president cargo, Fraport. “First of all, we were overwhelmed and very pleased with the number of Indian shippers having attended the event. Our idea was to facilitate the session jointly with FIEO and STAT Trade Times and to start a dialogue between manufacturers, airports, airlines, governmental bodies and other members of the global supply chain. The healthy discussions during the session showed a huge interest of the participants in this dialogue and we see the event as a start of lots of fruitful meetings to come where open issues relating to import and export processes can be tackled and hopefully solved,” added Schusdziara, who was also a speaker on the panel.
Schusdziara acknowledged that the forum was a confirmation of the importance of the need for an enhanced dialogue between manufacturers/shippers and Frankfurt Airport in order to inform the supply chain managers of offerings and ways to ease and to speed up the process via the global logistics hub at Frankfurt. “Our aim is to make air freight even more competitive and Frankfurt the preferred gateway for global cargo shipping,” he said.
“It was extremely satisfying to engage with the largest collection of shippers ever to attend an air cargo conference. Their vocal passion to understand and overcome existing roadblocks was clearly evident so I am confident they will be the driving influence along with the users of e-commerce in the evolution of the air cargo supply chain by the turn of this decade,” commented Des Vertannes, former global head of cargo at IATA.
Other panelists present at the forum were Dr Sudhanshu, deputy general manager, Agricultural & Processed Food Products Development Authority (APEDA); Krishna Mhaskar, vice president & secretary Foreign Exchange Dealers Association of India; Jayan T, executive manager, Worldwide Logistics - India, John Deere. The session was moderated by Roland Weil, Vice President Sales Cargo, Fraport. The session covered a host of topics, from providing deep insights into the evolving dynamics in the Indian air cargo industry to the vitality of easing businesses in the country. It also stressed on the significance of creating awareness on the importance of IT.
With the role of the air shippers’ changing in the last decade, the air cargo market in India has the potential to become a global hub. Influencing this growth is the introduction of disruptive and emerging technologies that are resulting in the simplification of the supply chain processes.