FIATA’s 56th World Congress held in Kuala Lumpur last October, we
asked MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd CEO Ahmad Luqman:
“How did you cope with the snow whist
attending University in Syracuse, New York?”
The question didn’t stop the energetic
executive. Instead he reflected the look
of an “Orangeman” (the school colors) who has shouldered the
snowstorms that blow in off of Lake Erie and bury upstate New York in
a manner unknown to Southeast Asia.
MAB Kargo is a subsidiary of Malaysian Aviation
Group, and CEO Ahmad Luqman has been a part of the cargo picture at the
carrier for his entire time at the company, now totaling twenty years.
He immediately admits that he enjoys cargo,
employing his touch for data analytical skills, strategy formation, and
“I have been privileged to have served
in various positions covering cargo terminal operations, system operations,
“But if I could do it all over again
I would have jumped into sales right away because that is where the rubber
meets the road.
“I especially enjoy the human contact
with both team and customers,” he said emphatically.
“Dealing with shippers and freight
forwarders is where the action involves providing customized business
processes to meet industry needs and demands, and where we can, through
sensible partnerships and cooperation, move the air cargo industry forward.”
“Developing and implementing cargo
processes for the Advanced Cargo Centre in KLIA as well as the Penang
Cargo Centre have positioned MAB Kargo to deepen and expand our footprint
in the niche markets we serve via our three A330-200 freighters, China
to Malaysia and Malaysia to China,” he said.
“We deliberately reduced the network
during past years to allow us to manage our business better,” Ahmad
It’s a positive sign for cargo at
the carrier that Malaysia Airlines will be adding new airplanes and increasing
capacity and service, and possibly adding some new routes.
“We realize about three quarters
of our throughput is via belly freight, so the airline adding new generation
wide-bodies with their increase payload capabilities hits a sweet spot
to our overall service offering, giving us capabilities to service new
“We seemed a bit taken aback for
some time with the explosive growth of the Middle Eastern Gulf carriers
and we focused on some very solid lucrative markets as our core business.
“I suspect that will continue, but
now we also feel quite strongly that for us, with our great KUL gateway
operation and longstanding culture for cargo, we need to look a bit wider
for new destinations and partners in air cargo,” the executive said.
Journey Into Day
Several years of losses have not diminished
the cargo manager’s enthusiasm, either, as 2017 will complete the
long planned and hoped for turnaround at the carrier.
“We are on track to turn a profit
in FY17,” Ahmad Luqman said.
“We are carefully considering our
options and will only move to serve market segments that can support our
value for money proposition.
“Still,” Ahmad Luqman warned,
“air cargo yields are likely to remain under pressure as airlines
deploy newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft.
“This is where MAB Kargo needs to
carve our own niche. We need to differentiate ourselves and know in which
market segment we want to serve,” said Ahmad Luqman.
Very much a family man, Ahmad Luqman lives
in Kuala Lumpur with his wife and four children.
He was born and raised in Selangor and
attended school in Perak.
He recalls his first jobs in Negeri Sembilan
as a “time of reflection that set the tone for the rest of my life.”
2018 & Beyond
“Our focus is on China,” Ahmad
“With the recent announcement that
Alibaba is moving to Malaysia, we are into the e-commerce sector with
both hands and feet and will be a major player providing solutions to
“Beyond the horizon matters to us
very much,” he adds quickly.
“We are looking for partners to drive
our brand to greater recognition in America and Europe, to see us as a
go-to resource across the routes we serve directly.”