The air transport sector is known for its volatility but also its adaptability. Some people may even describe it as a laboratory. The 2018 edition of the air transport colloquium focussed on innovations which can help the actors in the sector to deal with the disruptive environment and form successful aviation business strategies. The full-day program started with a keynote lecture by Prof. Jaap de Wit (Universiteit Amsterdam), who gave an overview of the developments in air transport and lessons for the future.
The morning continued with a lecture on innovations in air traffic management for drones provided by Marc Kegelaers, founder and CEO of Antwerp based Unifly, the global leader in Unmanned Traffic Management solutions. During the morning workshop, different industry stakeholders shared and debated their insights on e-commerce with the audience. Jaco Vaneman (Head of E-commerce Logistics, AF-KLM Cargo) talked about the opportunities and challenges of e-commerce for air cargo carriers, Koen Gouweloose (VP Customer Operations Europe, DHL Express) discussed e-commerce from the integrator perspective and Drs. Thomas Van Asch (UAntwerpen) presented the key-factors for e-commerce at airports.
During the afternoon workshop on digitalisation, Prof. dr. Franziska Kupfer (UAntwerpen) and C-MAT graduates Nicolas Raemdonck and Ebbigail Vandenbussche discussed how technologies and innovations could improve passenger experience at airports. Prof. dr. Stephan Bingemer (International School of Management) afterwards shared his vision on airlines and the digital customer. After the afternoon workshop, dr. Andreas Reeh, who is heading the Electric Machines department at Siemens, gave a lecture on innovation in aircraft design and the role of hybrid-electric aircraft.
Following the tradition, the 2018 edition of the air transport colloquium concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Prof. dr. Wouter Dewulf (UAntwerpen). The panellists (Prof. dr. Jaap De Wit, Jaco Vaneman, Koen Gouweloose, and dr. Andreas Reeh) discussed innovations in a disruptive environment and how to develop successful aviation business strategies from them. The discussion between experts and the audience concluded with the rhetorical question whether the asset-heavy aviation sector is flexible enough to take full advantage of fast-moving innovations.
Filip Cornelis (Director of Aviation, DG MOVE) delivered the closing address and stressed the importance of the European Commission's role in creating the right regulative framework within which the aviation sector can develop a positive business case for its innovations while prioritising the safety of the European airspace.