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22nd CNS Partnership Conference: Together Towards Tomorrow

The 22nd annual CNS Partnership Conference was the most well-attended to date, welcoming over 570 delegates during this past May in Miami, FL. This year’s conference featured the theme “Together Towards Tomorrow” and focused on forming common ground within the industry to tackle current challenges such as e-Commerce, Security, Automation, and Sustainability. 

Brandon Fried, Executive Director of Airforwarders Association set the tone for the conference with a unique opening session on the first day. Brandon delivered a candid assessment covering the forwarder’s views and future predictions on issues including e-freight, airline cargo policy, and security. Fried stressed that collaboration was key for changing onerous regulations. He pointed out that getting forwarders in compliance with ACAS will be infinitely more complex than getting integrators on board because not all forwarders have international offices. It is important for forwarders to be involved during the planning process in order to have their voices heard.

Camiel Eurlings, Cargo Chairman of Air France-KLM, provided the airline keynote speech bringing a unique carrier viewpoint to the audience. Eurlings reinforced the theme of the conference, emphasizing the industry’s need to take an integrated, vertical approach to collaboration, thinking about the entire supply chain instead of just one link. He stressed the importance of collaboration, adaptability and forward thinking as necessary to keep the industry afloat in difficult times.

Charles Schlumberger, Principal Air Transport Specialist for World Bank delivered an economic outlook.  He provided insight on the current oil price volatility, as well as industry implications and future trends. According to Schlumberger, the airline industry, and the world economy at large, must face the reality of higher energy costs in the future. Continued improvements in energy efficiency are becoming a key factor in competitiveness for all operators. However, rising oil prices may stall the economic recovery again. At today’s oil prices, global oil spending is expected to be close to 5% of GDP. In case of another oil price-induced downturn, air cargo operators need to be ready to swiftly adjust to lower demand for cargo services, as well as to lower haul capacity at regular passenger carriers.

Bruno Sidler, COO for CEVA Logistics delivered the forwarders view of partnership and the future. He opened his keynote speech by outlining the current economic circumstances facing the industry. Volatility in the cargo industry has either forced companies to abandon their freighters or leave the industry all together, he said. Sidler also talked about long-term planning and sustainable forecasting, which were both major themes during the conference.

Michael Steen, Executive Vice President of Atlas Worldwide Holdings and Chairman of TIACA and GACAG also took the stage to provide an update on the activities of GACAG. While admitting that “things will take some time,” he talked about the organization’s work lobbying governments on sustainability, security, e-freight and other issues.

The conference ended on a very positive note with excellent delegate feedback. 98% of attendees rated the conference as a valuable networking event. “All in all a great venue and well-coordinated event.” “Unforgettable” were a few of the comments received in our post-conference survey. It was one of the most successful CNS conferences to date and it raised the bar for next year where the 2013 Partnership Conference will convene May 5-7th at The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. Hope to see you all there!

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