Between writing for a variety of publications and being quoted in many more, an exhaustive inventory of Webber’s appearances in business journals and trade publications would be challenging and likely tedious for the reader. Here are a few interesting ones from recent years:
In these two features from November 2020 in Flying Typers, Webber answered questions about his own recent developments, his perspective on the industry during a particularly challenging time, and why he was relatively pleased to not be filling a recent high-profile job opening in the industry.
FT110220 (aircargonews.com) (November 2020) and
Webber discusses innovative cargo facilities with the Loadstar in February 2021
In August 2012, the Loadstar gave Webber a platform to illuminate readers on the sketchy circumstances surrounding a proposed all-cargo airport in northeastern Pennsylvania. This would not be the last time that Webber questioned the worthiness of potential uses of public funding for speculative cargo ventures.
Webber has written multiple pieces for Cargo Airports & Airline Services (CAAS) and been quoted in several more, including most recently being quoted in this August 2019 article:
And on airports’ cargo planning in April 2018 here
On the outlook for 2019 here
He authored these pieces about the cargo industry’s outlook:
And did some myth-busting of the aerotropolis cult:
Undoubtedly, one of the most representative episodes in Webber’s career must be the controversy surrounding a feature Webber’s wrote in June 2011 about a farcical proposed “air cargo hub” intended to be built at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. So appalled was Webber that he registered his disapproval in a piece written for Flying Typers that Webber intended to be just a protest that likely would gain no traction but at least would put his opinion on the record.
However, that modest op-ed led to counter-arguments between Webber and STL’s aviation director.
FT110615 (aircargonews.com) (Letters to the Editor)
Soon, the issue was picked up by daily newspapers and weeklies in Missouri’s biggest cities – St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia – as well as news programs on St. Louis-based television and radio stations. In his spare time while trying to run his small business, Webber volleyed with paid communications hacks, as well as political cronies and other sundry lackeys associated with former U.S. Senator Kit Bond and St. Louis’s Mayor Francis Slay. Armed with a superior understanding of the industry and real conviction, Webber embarrassed one opponent after another, including in a radio debate with a representative of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association.
The more scrutiny that the wildly speculative venture received, the worse it looked. Legislators who initially rubberstamped the politically driven effort were finally required to justify the unjustifiable until they retreated and slashed funding to bury the evidence. The most enthusiasm that “supporters” could mount was branding its success as “improbable”.
For his trouble, Webber’s hometown alternative weekly, the Pitch, named Webber “Best Agitator” in its year-end awards edition, observing: “A 2,100-word story in the trade publication Air Cargo News helped frame one of Missouri’s biggest political debates. A proposal to goose the movement of cargo through Lambert-St. Louis International Airport with up to $360 million in state tax credits faced a formidable opponent in Michael Webber, the author of the article. An air cargo consultant who lives in Prairie Village, Webber ridiculed the proposal, calling it a “speculative venture” built more on hopes and dreams than thoughtful analysis. His stridency made him a go-to source for reporters who were trying to get a handle on the project. In an interview with the Columbia Daily Tribune, Webber called Aerotropolis promoters a “bunch of lying bastards.” Even people who may not have agreed with Webber had to concede that Aerotropolis got a more thorough vetting as a result of his outspokenness.”
Michael Webber has had a multi-faceted relationship with air cargo conferences. As an on-call consultant to IATA, Webber helped organize various tracks and moderated panels for the initial World Cargo Symposiums in Mexico City, Rome, Bangkok and Vancouver. For memory’s sake, here is coverage from 2009 regarding what was to be the 3rd annual installment of this incomparable event.
During his brief period managing cargo affairs for Airports Council International – North America, Webber was also responsible for helping to organize one of the most successful editions of that organization’s then-biennial cargo event, hosted by Los Angeles World Airports in 2002.
In 2011, Webber was asked to organize and moderate a day-long cargo track for the Routes conference held in Berlin. To read about that event, continue here:
Webber has also given presentations and moderated sessions at numerous other air cargo events, including those organized by AAAE, the Airforwarders Association, Air Cargo Americas, TIACA and CNS
Even before the pandemic, Webber already had stemmed his participation in trade events and conferences but retains his enthusiasm for events organized by local air cargo associations.
During the pandemic, Webber has used Zoom and other platforms to give “state of the air cargo industry” briefings to dozens of cargo facilities developers, institutional investors, commercial real estate brokers and IT firms, as well as for consulting partners from the aviation architecture, engineering and planning fields. “Prior to the pandemic, it’s surprising how little of this type of networking I did. Most of the entities with whom I interact have offices all over the world and so the ability to present to 25-30 representatives of the same company seemed unlikely but turns out to be quite easily done. I am still a firm supporter of doing business in-person but also believe this kind of business development will remain as part of my repertoire. Especially as I had already lost my enthusiasm for most of the canned conferences, this means of marketing will be more critical.”