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   Vol. 18 No. 18
Tuesday March 12, 2019

United Tops U.S. Belly Cargo

The news that 2018 saw United Airlines Cargo not only preserve its number one ranking as top USA belly cargo carrier, but also widen the gap, increasing its lead, is certainly welcome word up and down the halls of the UA Willis Tower headquarters in Chicago.
     But at closer look, these days at United, air cargo often referred to as a “night animal” finds itself in a run to daylight with an exciting team effort, and a more than charismatic team leader.

Importance of Jan Krems

Jan Krems      There is something compelling and instantly engaging in the way Jan Krems, President of United Cargo walks into a room, telling you right away in his always warm and gracious but also get to the point manner, anything is possible.
     But the thing about Jan that is just outstanding, is his brilliance as a dreamer and doer in air cargo, coupled with his love for our industry.
     Air cargo is Jan Krems’ vocation and his avocation. He pitches into every situation with a spirit that has delivered a team at United Cargo transformed into the best in the business.

One of the Few

      There have been a few people we have known in our time that could, by example, enrich the heart and spirit of a large group of people.
     Jacques Ancher at KLM comes to mind. Bill Boesch certainly was a transformational air cargo leader, wherever he landed.
     The ability to inspire and lead and be successful at the same time, albeit somewhat rare, is also a wondrous and beautifully magical thing to behold and it is going on right now at United Cargo.
     There is a sense of something is coming, season after season at United Cargo.
     We have talked to some truly outstanding and quite outspoken people inside and outside the carrier and the consistent underlying message is that the switches are all on and Team United Cargo is electric.

On Locale In Singapore

     This week the scene is in Singapore, as IATA holds its World Cargo Symposium, and everybody seems to be looking for something, not the least of which might be a well-prepared Singapore Sling that Somerset Maugham made famous at Raffles Long Bar here. We checked in with Jan Krems for some rapid-fire give and take.
     As usual, the man did not disappoint.
     “The state of United Cargo in March 2019 is strong and determined,” Jan smiled.
     “To recap recent history, 2017 was a fantastic year of expansion for us: in overall tonnage, in specialty products and services, and in the quality of our customer relationships.

Record Revenue In 2018

     “In 2018, the rate of volume growth eased off slightly but our yields increased, leading to record revenue of $1.24 billion.
     “There were other aspects of 2018 results that were gratifying: unlike many other productive years where a few regions delivered extraordinary results and compensated for those who didn’t do as well, in 2018, every United Cargo team around the globe enjoyed success.

Out Front & Pulling Away

     “We had a nice balance between general cargo and specialty product growth in 2018, and we also expanded our lead over U.S. competition as the #1 U.S. cargo belly carrier.
     “So spirits and enthusiasm were running high when we gathered the team together for our annual Worldwide Meeting last month.

Worldwide Meeting

     “As your readers know, United Cargo’s Wordwide Meeting has been in Houston the past two years.
     “In 2017, our theme was ‘Unstoppable’ and we paid tribute to the fearless spirit of the cowboys and cowgirls who led the cattle drives from Texas and pioneered their industry.
      “In 2018, our theme was ‘No Limits’ and we celebrated Houston’s role in space exploration and all the individuals whose skill and vision engineered improbable achievements like landing on Venus and Mars and walking on the moon.

Chicago Roots

     “This year we came back to Chicago, United’s other home town, and the theme was ‘Going Back to Our Roots.’
     “Our wardrobe, activities and atmosphere replicated the style of ‘The Windy City’ in the 1920s.
     “But the theme had a deeper meaning than returning to the site of United’s headquarters and largest hub.

The Headwinds Play In 2019

     “After recent years of solid year-over-year gains and expansion, we sense the headwinds against similar levels of growth getting stronger.
     “The headwinds we detect are not exclusive to United:  trade wars, tariffs and protectionism, geopolitical unrest—these real and perceived threats are already having an impact on our industry in 2019.
     “And while the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain in good shape, we can’t say the same about many of our key trading partners around the world.

The Quality Factor

     “With the signs of a slowdown in global trade evident, there’s no better time to focus on the many facets and qualities that make for strong roots in our business.
     “So our Annual Meeting’s presentations and breakout sessions emphasized the importance of nurturing and strengthening our base, our core, our foundation—in a word, our roots.
     “Among the essential components we discussed during our conference were our infrastructure, our customer relationships and our team.

Improved Infrastructure

     “We’ve made great improvements in our infrastructure over the past year. We knew we had to focus our human and financial resources in our San Francisco and Newark hubs, where the rapid growth in business made us a victim of our own success during the 2017 peak season.
     “I’m really proud of the savvy planning and tireless effort the team made to produce the big boosts in timeliness and efficiency achieved during the 2018 peak and through the beginning of 2019.

Geoffrey Arend, Jan Meurer, Marcel de Nooijer and Jan Krems

True Glimpse Ahead

     “Who knows?” Jan laughs easily.
     “Despite the current tensions, the uncertainties and governmental disputes affecting us now could get resolved, trends in consumer confidence might reverse and demand could begin growing faster than capacity again.
     “Whenever that happens (and we know it will eventually), we want to be ready to support our customers’ business with the quality they deserve.

Ah! The Customer

     “On the subject of customers, softer phases of the economic cycle are when you find out who your friends are.
     “By that I mean, which partners can you count on to support you through the ups and downs?
     “Who wants to build and preserve the type of relationships of mutual benefit that endure over the long haul?
     “We’re lucky enough to have several of these longtime friends at United Cargo, and we treasure each one of them.

A Thing Or Two

     “The essential roots of any businesses’ success are the people – and the team they forge through their commitment to each other.
     “I never get tired of saying United Cargo has the most talented and dedicated team in Cargo.
     “In 2019, we’re focusing on job-specific and personal skills training to refine and expand our teammates’ abilities so they can excel at customer service and develop their careers.

The True Cargo Heart

     “But far more important than what our team can do is who they are.
     “Those of us who have dedicated our careers to air cargo know there is something special about this business, and the people who survive and thrive in it, those who have the most fun and success, have a special set of characteristics that set them apart.
     “There’s too many qualities to list, and most are better sensed that described, so I just say these people have a ‘Cargo Heart.’
     “Whether teammates, business partners or industry colleagues renewing friendships at the WCS, those with a ‘True Cargo Heart’ are the connections we value the most,” Jan Krems said.

Peggy Lee Curazon
If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend •
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend • Advertising Sales-Judy Miller

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