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   Vol. 15  No. 22
Wednesday March 16, 2016

Every Which Way With Samways

Every Which Way With Samways 
     When asked to offer some insight into air cargo in 2016 both domestically (U.S.) and internationally, Roger Samways, Managing Director Global and Key Accounts for American Airlines Cargo, related the following.
     “The international market makes up a lot of our business. And although the macroeconomic situation worldwide isn’t necessarily encouraging, there are still plenty of opportunities as we continue to focus on building stronger relationships with our customers and developing new partnerships, and as our overall network continues to expand (as with our newly acquired presence in Haneda, Sydney, etc.).
     “On a similar note, our domestic network is offering us many new opportunities since our merger with US Airways, both in terms of growing domestic business and also the way in which our domestic network supports international growth.
     “For example, within the pharma sector, we added our new dedicated facility in Philadelphia (PHL) last year, which is designed to support the needs of cold chain customers on the East Coast whilst also supporting customers looking to export to the U.S. from overseas markets, particularly in Europe.
     “We will continue to make infrastructure investments where supported by demand, including additional coolers for perishables (we have just opened a new drive-through cooler in DFW, for example) and more temperature controlled spaces for more sensitive healthcare items.
     “This year, we’ll also be focusing on the growth of our high-value business as we enhance visibility across the entire shipping process and offer exceeded security measures for the safety of these important shipments.”

East Vs. West
     “Percentage-wise, a majority of our domestic-to-domestic traffic moves west to east. Specifically, in regard to weight, 55 percent of our coast-to-coast business—or 27 percent of our overall, purely domestic business—moves westbound to eastbound, due to the large amount of perishable traffic that originates on the west coast.”

Potential Red Flags

     “Of course, we have modal threats from road and sea freight (and even rail in some markets), particularly in sectors which are particularly price sensitive and less focused upon speed of transit. We need to continue to focus on differentiation based upon areas such as speed of transit (whilst our industry provides an advantage vs. other modes of transit, this could be even greater if we could strip existing inefficiency out of the process, including our interaction with forwarders and end users) and accuracy of information.
     “With the tracking capabilities available, as well as the naturally quick nature of the business, we have unmatched potential compared to other modal services. Specifically in regard to the temperature-control supply chain and our ever-growing perishable business, our monitoring services and enhanced online tracking capabilities help offer a sense of transparency and promptness we know the customer values greatly.”

U.S. Versus The World

     “There are differences in the types of commodities which are shipped across our network which are driven by geography—strong perishable support ex Peru and Chile and West Coast U.S.A, high tech/consumer electronics out of China, and fashion out of Italy. No matter the origin or the commodity though, customers value consistency in their experience and reliability when it comes to interactions with their carrier. Awareness of this is a key driver for development of our future strategy, and you can see the effect of this in the implementation of several new initiatives over the last year.
     “For example, our Customer Experience solution, which we are in the process of rolling out, is designed to provide customers with a more consistent and reliable solution for questions and issues from the point of booking through to the end of a shipments’ life.”
     “We have a strong domestic network and have learned an invaluable amount from our colleagues who came over with the US Airways merger. We’ve embraced mail opportunities and are working to better utilize our narrowbody planes for postal (and other relevant) domestic transports. We now also have a team dedicated to our specialty programs, which are highly impactful parts of our domestic business. TLC, our service for transporting loved ones to their final resting places, live animals, and high-value shipments are all closely worked and monitored by this dedicated team. Specifically in these areas of our business, we know how important transparency, security, and accuracy are to customers. From art galleries to zoo animals, these shipments (although not just domestic) remain a crucial part of the cargo world we live in.

The Air Cargo Professional
     “I realized pretty early on that, whilst Law was interesting, I didn’t want a career in it.
     “I had a vague notion of wanting a job in sales based upon the fact that I enjoy meeting people.
     “Fortunately, the day after getting back from traveling around the U.S., my Dad’s cricket team was one man short, so I ended up filling in.
     “This led to a job opportunity in sales with another player who also happened to only be playing in this game as a one off.
     “The job was with a GSA based at Heathrow—I think I must have been the only applicant as the job description clearly stated ‘must have previous experience.’”

Born To Fly
     “I was born in Oxford, England. We moved around a bit when I was young, so I’ve lived in a variety of places, including: Bristol, High Wycombe, London in the UK, and Nigeria—my parents were both teachers and taught at Kano University for a couple of years (hence the spell in Nigeria)—and then Dad became a vicar (Pastor in U.S. parlance!), which necessitated training and then serving a couple of curacies. I live in Dallas presently.
     “I studied Law at Huddersfield University and loved living in the north of England (although I did wake up one morning during my first winter there to find that 20 inches of snow had fallen overnight, which was a bit of a surprise). After graduating, I travelled around the U.S. with my sister, driving from New York to Los Angeles. I then completed an MBA at BCUC in my spare time between 1999 and 2002. It may have been hard work at the time, but was really good fun.”

The Biggest Thrill

     “Did I mention that I love meeting people?! This is going to sound really corny, but it’s a great thrill to be able to do a job that I love; I’m very fortunate.”

Job Or Profession?    

     “Using the strict definition of ‘profession’ (a vocation founded upon specialised educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested objective counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain), it’s a job… but that shouldn’t make it any less important than so-called professions. The air cargo industry provides a huge variety of roles, many of which require detailed training, constant variety, daily challenges, and form an integral and valuable part of global commerce.”

Teachers Vs. Students
“We can all learn from each other. Yes, there are certainly things that shippers need to learn, but there is also a lot for other stakeholders (including airlines and forwarders) to learn. We welcome a more collaborative approach, which helps to facilitate this environment, rather than a 'partnership' based around conflict and imprecise information.”

A More Perfect Union
     “From a cargo perspective, the task [of coordinating the business cultures of American and US Airways] is complete—the broader airline still has one or two areas to finish integrating but, from a passenger perspective, that is almost complete too. It’s always a challenge bringing two big organisations together, but we are really happy with the results and have a much larger network because of it. And whilst our customer bases were largely similar, we have found instances where one carrier or the other had a stronger relationship with a particular customer and we have been able to build upon this.
     “We’ve set out to take the best from both airlines and have many examples where this is the case—American’s ExpediteTC product to handle cold chain, and the US Airways expertise in human remains and handling domestic mail, for example.”

Living In The Jet Age

     “The only person I can think of who is old enough to remember the pre-Jet age is our VP of Sales and Marketing, Joe Reedy, and he tells me ‘yes,’ [jet freight has changed customer habits].
     “Customers have become much more aware and expectation levels (particularly regarding service and visibility of information) have grown, and continue to grow, substantially (which is a good thing, by the way!).”

Custom-Tailored Cargo Services    

     “Our goal is to offer our customers the high-quality products and services they need. To do so, we offer a broad range of options to meet the needs of all. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t offer a completely customizable experience but we’ve added a variety of elements to our product line that are designed to provide customers with the additional flexibility/visibility that they need. This includes our newly introduced enhanced tracking, an initiative that encompasses who we are and where we’re going as a service provider. It offers full transparency into the entire shipping process and allows our customers a more user-friendly experience, with the ability to customize as they see fit.
     “We know not all of our customer want and value the same things, so our new sorting features allow each unique individual an opportunity to choose the content most important to them. We’re talking Customs information, history, and active status bar updates, which are color-coded in a visually appealing and easy-to-read way (even for someone who is color blind, like me!).”

The Role Of The Cargo Agent

     “Our customers make up the basis of our being—they provide a partnership that allows us to do business successfully worldwide and provide the feedback and support needed to ensure we evolve and continue to offer relevant services industrywide.
     “Our customers, shippers, and forwarders, not only provide us business, but help support the global economy and supply the world with the resources needed to be healthy and prosperous. For example, through our cold-chain program, we move temperature- and time-sensitive goods that have the potential to save lives and offer a better standard of living to people in all parts of the world. Our customers are invaluable to us and we do everything in our power to exceed their needs by expanding our network, introducing new products and services, and collaborating so we can be positively impactful to the population worldwide.”

Brave New World

     “Air freight has become an increasingly important and larger portion of world trade. We are proud to be a growing, integral part of the supply chain and are an essential component for key industries, such as healthcare and food. We’ve made great strides in our product offerings and services. Overall, with a bigger focus on open communication with our partners and customers, we have greater access to information, including feedback and, using this, we can continue to improve the way we do business at American and within the industry as a whole.” 

Everything In Place

     “As I mentioned a little more above, everything we invest in, whether that be in time or money, involves exceeding the ever-changing needs of our customers. The industry is evolving, our customers are evolving and we’re doing everything in our power to develop and use new technology and streamlined processes that will keep us ahead of the change.
     “Globally, no matter how big or small the entity, the customer experience is our top priority—so leading the way toward a more efficient, technologically advanced supply chain is key. ”

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