Carry The Weight
Once upon a time there were cargo sales and marketing managers at work
for the airlines almost everywhere.
Fs example here in Frankfurt, Germany it would not have been uncommon
for an airline such as Aerolineas Argentinas to have featured cargo managers
in several European countries.
At one time JAT Yugoslav Airlines, Pan Am, TWA and others did exactly
the same thing, as the airlines created complete cargo management setups
with individual support services such as airfreight accounting in their
The Aircargo Club Germany was born of this trend and in the 1970’s
and yet into the 1980’s most ACD members were airline cargo managers.
That way of doing business is long gone.
Return once more to the good old days.
Once upon a time, it was a must to have a big billboard advertisement
for your airline outside the cargo areas of airports, or to operate exclusively
with containers painted with corporate identity.
Sometimes even the pallets of an interline-partner-carrier were given
an identity treatment.
Pride of place ruled long ago and far away.
“Schnurrbart – airlines”, is what Siegfried Koehler
of Lufthansa used to call the newer carriers as they settled into nicely
appointed cargo offices at the airport or downtown.
More than often an airline office would be placed near a particular restaurant
where the boss preferred to dine.
It was a time when “cargo revenues” were actually secondary
to “weight carried,” as the measure that served as yardstick
to the performance of a country cargo manager.
Seeing Schenker, Kuehne & Nagel, AEI and Emery at least twice monthly
was a must for the cargo manager while sales reps consolidated their “individual
findings” at commercial accounts for the calling reports.
All of this came to an abrupt ending during the 1990’s as airline
auditors began examining revenues.
As real accounting took hold, the ensuing big shake up took its toll,
and a new breed of companies called General Service Agents or GSA began
offering their services to airline bosses.
Now an airline could dump fixed costs by variables based on weight handled
and revenues generated respectively.
The GSA, a profession with long tradition around the globe in the shipping
and trading industries was discovered, and incorporated in increasing
numbers in the airline cargo business.
Consequently airline cargo offices were closed and GSA’s moved up
in visibility at airports around the world. Helge Luehr, who serves as
Chairman of the Federation of Airlines General Sales Agents (FAGSA) today,
pioneered the GSA concept in Germany with Cargolux during the 1970’s.
Herr Luehr’s Aerotrans that served Cargolux, was also a template
for others moving toward GSA’s.
Another one of the early GSA birds was Michael Staecks´ Transnautic
that represented Aeroflot.
Early GSA’s had to balance their approach by administering sales
in-house while overseeing airport handling in cooperation with the ground
service companies, who were often different at various airports.
As a likely result of that fragmented responsibility was born the General
Sales & Service Agent or GSSA.
GSSA’s got started in the UK and in the traditionally liberal Netherlands.
In Germany, cargo agents took quite some time in accepting a GSA as a
fully authorized and competent replacement for the cargo manager of an
Today four years post 9/11, and the financial meltdown of much of the
airline industry that followed, the GSSA is an accepted, often appreciated
partner of the cargo agent and shipper community in the air cargo business.
Leisure Cargo founded in 2000 and Lufthansa Cargo Counts are two home-grown
companies offering total cargo management for airlines.
But these two outfits are no local operators, rather they envelope all
cargo-related activities everywhere the airline they serve flies.
According to IATA CASS Germany Manager Mathias Jakobi, 88 of the 128 airlines
selling and accounting in Europe’s number one market are represented
by a GSSA.
Here are some major players in the European market today.
Globe Air Cargo is a “European Cargo Services” company that
until a couple of years ago was known as Pace Airline Services.
During the late nineties European Cargo Services acquired a number of
European GSSA’s and formed Globe Air Cargo with subsidiaries in
Asia as well as in the Americas.
of Globe Air Cargo in his office near Frankfurt International Airport
“We are the classic GSSA,” says Heiner Sass, managing director
of Globe in Germany, Poland and Bulgaria.
“We have taken the burden of an in-house cargo organization off
the shoulders of many carriers.
“We can operate as required in different situations.
“As example, for SN Cargo in Brussels, we act as all round cargo
management and similarly for Ukraine Air, filling their freighter.
“Globe picks up refined blocked space agreements on behalf of some
of our mandate-airlines to Latin America for example.
“Globe develops business here in Germany differently than in other
European markets as our standing with the strong German forwarding community
“Elsewhere, in 22 markets in the Americas, in Asia and here in Europe,
we sell and serve a large number of airlines on the spot.
“I believe that we are the only really global provider of highly
“Globe has contracts to represent more than 100 airlines worldwide.
“Globes Charter Solutions division offers a myriad menu of solutions
for cargo charter around the world. Mark Grinsted runs Charter Solutions
here in Frankfurt and is able to offer charter operations to almost anywhere
Surveying the scene and listening to the actors in the US$ 1.42 billion
German air cargo market, one GSSA is usually mentioned first.
– ATC Aviation Services.
A 6’ 5” inch tall, down to earth former freight forwarder
scores big as a GSSA in the 21st century.
ATC Aviation Services originally founded in Switzerland, active in most
European markets and operated in Germany and Austria by Ingo Zimmer (pictured
right) for the past 16 years represents among others Asiana with 4 weekly
freighters and 4 combis out of Frankfurt alone and road feeder connections
to another 7 weekly all cargo flights out of Brussels. 4 weekly Royal
Brunei with four flights weekly offers solid lift dependability to the
Far East and Oceania out of FRA. Kuwait Airways provides a dense schedule
to the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent and the Far East as well.
“You mentioned some of our carriers; but similarly important to
us are Yemenia, TMA, Royal Air Maroc, Ethiopian Airlines and Air Mauritius.
“Actually all 20 airlines that we work for in my district are equal.
“Everybody gets the golden touch at ATC.
“We are 20 people in Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf and Cologne,
publishing individual rate sheets for the German agency community as if
the papers came from the airline itself.
“Each of our employees puts the respective airline hat on while
advancing the fortunes of a carrier by telephone or by E-mail.
“The key ingredient of our organisation here is to never forget
that this is a highly personal business that never lets the customer forget
how important he or she is regarded.
“We also make a point to handle specialized markets—Africa
and The Middle East, East Asia and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
“ATC moved 3,000 consignments weighing 2,000 tons a month with revenues
in the double digit millions of Euro range in 2004.
“At the beginning 16 years ago, the clients were exotic airlines
rarely heard of.
“Today the smart money sticks to core business and leaves air cargo
to professionals like ATC, so naturally the market has widened to include
just about everybody.
“Of course there are problems – like for example the fact
that fuel surcharges today are often higher than the market rates on certain
“Surcharge amounts exceeding 65 cents a kilo can often end up as
no commission for us.
“Like the cargo agents we are discussing and trying to formulate
our way out of what has become an impossible situation.
“I am proud of the fact that all of our carriers are represented
by us exclusively in Germany and Austria. “We are not brokers, but
rather a serious GSSA.
“We have the financial power to deliver a first-class product in
our role as an airline cargo organization in a market like this one.
“Our IT is state-of-the-art, connections to CASS, GFX and in-forwarding
is continuous and solid.
“By comparison, some so-called “service innovations”
at some of our competitors have been standard in our company for years.”
Elsewhere at Fraport’s Cargo City we spend a few moments at an outstanding
GSSA called cargo.net international.
Left)—Klaus Lederer, managing director of cargo.net in Frankfurt
(right) shares a business luncheon and some inside scoop with Gue
(Photo Right)—Manfred Schleiffer, sales manager
for Air Logistics Group seems to be ready for anything. During our
conversation Joachim Klecha (pictured right) Cargo manager of Qatar
Airways appeared at the ALG offices and was invited to get into
Klaus Lederer (a full-fledged freight forwarder who moved to other side
of the table a few years ago) heads up the company with locations in other
parts of Germany and Austria.
Today some fifteen airlines are in the portfolio including fast-rising
Etihad Crystal Cargo, TAP Portugal’s national airline and Uzbekistan
Airways. Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan as well as Siberia, a little
bit of Africa and other destinations are also situate on the cargo net
international service map.
But first a few words about Etihad.
Never ever before has a carrier entered and penetrated the German and
Austrian air cargo market with the impact, as has the airline from Abu
Etihad added route after route in its service ramp up but cargo.net international
cites its ability to cope with explosive growth.
At Air Logistics Group–a Chapman Freeborn offspring, Bruce W. Petersen
runs a highly respected GSSA shop with Manfred Schleiffer in charge of
Air Logistics Group represents Qatar Airways, CAL of Israel, Air Seychelles,
Air Malta, Lithuanian Airlines, Mongolian Airlines, Transaero, Tampa Airlines,
China Eastern Airlines, British Midland, Florida West, Cabo Verde Airlines,
Iceland Express, Carpatair, Estonian Air, LOT Polish, KUZU and Kaltta.