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CSAFE Global

 

Air Cargo BelgiumToday marks a special day in the history of air cargo at Brussels Airport as BRUcargo’s community organization Air Cargo Belgium celebrates its 5th anniversary. 

It was on the 21st of April in 2016 that Air Cargo Belgium VZW was officially launched. This was the result after a long period of meetings, dialogues and forming a strategy. On top of that, it was of utmost importance that the ‘founding fathers’ agreed on a common vision. The ultimate goal: to bundle the forces at BRUcargo and the airfreight industry for once and for all

The founding fathers of Air Cargo Belgium were Brussels Airport (Steven Polmans), BAFI (David Bellon, Philippe Fierens & Alain De Heldt), ACMAB (Bob Vandamme & Bas Van Gogh), Voka (Geert Keirens, Paul Hegge & Peter Van Biesbroeck) and the Ground Handling Agents, which were previously represented by CTC (Eddy Van Craen): Aviapartner (Jan De Leeuw), Swissport (Patrick Minsart) and WFS (Marc Claessen). It was Steven Polmans whom became the first Chairman of Air Cargo Belgium.


Because of a smooth collaboration and quick growth to form a strong community organization, BAFI, CTC and ACMAB were integrated in Air Cargo Belgium not a long time after the launch and continued operating as a cluster within the ACB structure.
Machelen, 21/04/2021

The first major success was obtaining the recognition and subsidy of the Flemish Government as Innovative Company Network. This provided the organization with financial support for three years and enabled ACB to set up a professional cluster organisation with a team of recently graduated bachelors in logistics. It was Angelique Heynen (VLOC) and Geert Keirens (Director) who initially ensured a smooth take-off of Air Cargo Belgium and not a long time after that, Gilles Van Goethem became the first employee. 12 more colleagues would follow in the first 5 years.


Air Cargo Belgium strives to make BRUcargo the most attractive, efficient, innovative and successful logistical platform. This has been the mission from the start, and is now being expanded with sustainability as a goal. They do this through cooperation in 9 different steering groups and different projects focusing on Digitization (With its well-known BRUcloud platform), Pharma, Live Animals and E-commerce.

Since the start 5 years ago, the organization grew from the 7 founding members to more than 150 members today, grouping almost all Air Cargo companies like Handlers, Forwarders, Airlines and other stakeholders in the region. There is a strong cooperation with governments at all levels and with governmental agencies such as Customs, Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FAVV), Civil Aviation Authorities (DGLV), Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAGG), Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), the Police and so on.

Since the start, ACB has made an immense progress to achieve its goals and to become first of its class. Brussels Airport became the ‘Preferred Pharma Gateway of Europe’, playing a leading and crucial role in the worldwide distribution of the Covid 19 vaccines. Thanks to the focus of Digitization and data sharing on BRUcloud, 12 community applications have been rolled out and a Digital Green Lane for the landside processes has been installed. This leads to more transparency and efficiencies for all involved companies in the value chain of air cargo. Flown cargo volumes increase with 10 % from the start up to 2018, and although the 2018 China-US crisis hit the Air Cargo Industry worldwide, volumes have picked up ever since and even during this pandemic volumes are higher than ever. Last year, we saw an increasement in flown volumes compared to 2019 by 2%. ACB has taken up a frontrunner roll in innovation by constantly focusing on digitizing on a local level, but also in international and European projects working on a Physical Internet roadmap and pilot projects to shape a sustainable Air Cargo Industry for the future. Competences of all staff are being developed through Aviato Academy, formerly Air Cargo Academy, an ACB subsidiary. ACB has been rewarded and awarded several times by Brussels Airport and in International competitions for its strong community and innovative approach.

Geert Keirens, Director of ACB: “The magic lies in the close cooperation within the community. We think, act and work as one integrated supply chain withing a multi-company environment. Over 100 individuals from more than 80 companies are participating in different steering groups or projects. All community initiatives are managed as projects with a bottom up approach linked to a strategic vision.”
Next to this, Air Cargo Belgium has since the start organized close to 40 network events. Even during the global pandemic, it is offering webinars on a frequent base. During the Cargo Talks Webinar in March, they had the honor of hosting a unique mix of panel speakers from both the aviation industry and Macro-economic organizations, such has Glyn Hughes and Arnaud Feist. During the annual Summer BBQ, they celebrate the hard work of the entire community in a relaxing and exciting environment at the Koloniënpaleis in Brussels.

Steven Polmans (previous Chairman of ACB and current Chairman of TIACA) about the impact of ACB and the global acknowledgement: “As the former Director Cargo & Logistics of Brussels Airport, I firmly believe that ACB has brought together the various players at BRUcargo to jointly seek solutions for the greater good. I think that thanks to ACB, BRUcargo is a perfect example of a modern and forward-looking ecosystem and the value that such an ecosystem can generate for its participants as well as the wider environment. Moreover, from my international position as president of TIACA, I can say that in a very short time ACB has built a reputation and an image worldwide for the work they do and the role they play and, above all, the results they achieve. Quite a few other airports look at Brussels with a mixture of interest and jealousy when it comes to ACB.”

David Bellon (Current Chairman) on the ambitions and on how ACB will look like in 5 years: “As chairman of Air Cargo Belgium, you can only be proud of the structure and operation of this organisation. Thanks to the input of all its members, this association is a model of cooperation at national and international level. In the coming years, the road to digitalisation of the mutual business processes will be further pursued, thus making Brussels Airport a permanent reference for an efficient and digital cargo platform. This will benefit all companies. We can be proud of what we have achieved over the past 5 years and look forward to the future with hope. Air Cargo Belgium will continue to focus on facilitating dialogue between freight companies, informing its members and making the necessary resources available to enable further.”

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