Willie Nelson, legendary country folk singer and song writer, exemplifies my beliefs about work… and life, through the words of one of his most famous songs "On the Road Again." Nearing the end of yet another year; the past two months have brought me to a lovely haven east of Montreal, Canada; the canals of Amsterdam; the Black Forest of Germany and the northern tip of Switzerland. My travels gave me the unique opportunity to see many of you, our readers, clients and advertisers. I realize the Internet, in the form of emails, blogs and websites, has turned our world into a smaller, tight-knit global "community" in which we can stay in touch at the click of a button. However, though the Internet has been a wonderful gift to the industry…it's not a panacea and there is absolutely no comparison to actually meeting in person, sitting down over a cup of coffee or a meal, listening to your vocal intonations and watching your facial expressions regarding your day-to-day business dealings, ventures and concerns.
Anniversaries are one of the best excuses to bring people together and that's what TLD did at their factory in Sherbrooke, Canada in early October to celebrate their 50th Anniversary of TLD loaders activity. During my stay in Canada I also met with Jackie Pothier, director of Airport Systems for Dewbridge in Ottawa. In September, Dewbridge introduced 12 DoubleDocker™ automated gate systems in use by United Airlines at Denver International Airport. And a quick but pointed visit with Roger Nicholson and Guy Dostie of ACCESSAIR revealed the expansion of its line of airstairs to include non-motorized models to access either terminals, bridges or aircraft in fixed heights or as telescopic models with a reach of 228" (5.4M).
Shortly thereafter, I drove with my colleague and "chauffeur," Lutz Krampitz, through Europe to experience the daily world of Fraport, Trepel, Mulag, Schopf, Kamag, Swissport and Hydro. I gained many insights from each of you and though I can't begin to go into all of the details, I would like to share a few of the highlights which said to me that "things are looking up."
Fraport's Helen Sanzenbacher, ground services, senior manager of marketing and Anette Schmid, aviation ground services and logistics, took the time to discuss the new cargo subsidiary Fraport Cargo Services GmbH. Another point made is that Spain is quickly getting into the ground handling market. Helen and Anette were also concerned because, due to EU regulations, airports strictly follow quality and on-time pushbacks and, as a result, personnel costs are higher in Germany than they are in other areas of the world.
In speaking with Heike Steinborn of Trepel, we asked how we could continue to increase our international readership and to our delight, she said that in her travels, she has always come across our publication…even in Dubai! We also look forward to spending time with Flightline, Trepel's new handling partner in Miami.
Schopf has seen "continual increases over the past 30 years with downturns during the typical times such as 9/11, SARS (and) wars" but business is good and they are looking forward to a very good 2007. According to Managing Director Hermann Brüggemann, Schopf's success story is the "very good input they receive from the low-cost airlines because their equipment is very economical." And thanks to Dr. Brüggemann, I am now a "licensed operator" for the Schopf F110 Towing Tractor...so if any of you need part-time help on the ramp, don't hesitate to let me know!
Tobias Marian, sales manager of GSE for Kamag and Lothar Riesenegger from marketing pointed to the fact that the Michelin plant in Japan burned down, causing an incredible demand on tires. Michelin is now building a new plant in South America and when that is completed it may alleviate the situation, however, with China's "explosion" the demand nearly doubled from one to two million.
We also met with Melanie Wymann at Swissport; Hydro's Managing Director Juergen Droste along with Mulag's Sales Director Frederic Seidner, Key Account Assistant Andrea Goeppert and Head of Marketing Oliver S. R. Kesy. For all of the EU companies, other hot topics under a close watch include the price of steel, the continual fuel price increases, the exchange rate and shipping costs.
Overall we heard positive news from all of you and great ideas for future articles. Thank you for meeting with us and I look forward to meeting the rest of you at some point "on the road again."
As always, thanks for reading.