Ingo Zimmer pictured with his home office secretary Michelle.
The worldwide ATC Team is pictured at a spirit building outing
last summmer at the Zugspitze, the tallest mountain peak in Germany.
“The COVID-19 Pandemic has challenged
us at this point on a sustained level as no time in history, but
in our line of work we have remained flexible and kept our team on point
to be both inventive and to be in close touch with our airline partners.
“The best surprise is no surprise
so our top priority is transparency every step of the way before, during
and after the lockdown.
“I am very impressed with the flexibility
of our team to work remotely and also the support of our service partners
in seeking alternative methods to keep the supply chains open.
“Now as we move forward we redouble
our effort to be there for our partners every step of the way.”
ATC Aviation President Ingo Zimmer could
barely have imagined (as could any of us) the uproar to business and our
very lives during this global pandemic of 2020.
Seen Clearly Now
But for his part, Ingo offers a perspective:
“We recall very well the Iceland volcanic
eruption a decade ago in 2010 and the heavy impact it had on air traffic
“Business has in the past also been
impacted by fluctuating currencies and trade wars, plus political unrest
in various parts of the world, most often thankfully not all going on
at the same time,” Ingo smiled.
“But COVID-19 has made us realize
that while the action plan ATC has in place works, the challenge has necessarily
brought out in all of us the heart and soul desire to be in this business.”
ATC Redrawn Global Map of GSSAs
In just a few short years, ATC Aviation
has raised the stakes and redrawn the world map of airline GSSAs.
That is no overstatement.
Today ATC has become a global player through
internal growth and some key acquisitions in North and South America,
Europe, and elsewhere.
But unlike others, ATC is not just about
Ingo puts it this way:
“We are about expanding opportunities
via our growing family.”
That “family” is an extraordinary
collection of seasoned veterans and younger entry-level people that have
been brought together by Ingo to create a new kind of 21st century air
With a worldwide portfolio of more than
70 airlines in 27 countries, ATC is filled with energetic, spirited people
out to do the job while radiating a can-do attitude.
The customer is king or queen at ATC, where
The thing you notice right away when spending
time at ATC is the way each generation is in fact mentoring the other
with their own strengths to create a level of service in the air cargo
business that exists almost nowhere else.
“What that means to us is that ATC
or ‘Always Take Care’ is much more than a mantra or a wish.
“To our team, being the best ATC is
always job one all the time,” Ingo Zimmer smiles.
“But right now, when it seems everyone’s
future is on the line every day, we are about much more than just everybody
working together for our customers’ overall good.
“We are advancing the form of air
cargo expectations and service by people who put the customer first and
always accept responsibility far beyond what is considered the norm.”
Total Service Before, During &
“ATC means total service responsibility
where we eat, sleep, and keep heads and hearts on each shipment, every
“The results have been dramatic.
“Although we suffered the yields challenge
that swept across the landscape, at ATC we managed to inch ahead in 2019
during a time when others were pointed in the other direction.
“Now in 2020, with all the current
challenges, we are committed to continue being the best GSSA,” Ingo
The New Deals
Just prior to the shut-down, ATC Aviation
Services was appointed as cargo GSSA for Air Astana for all of Europe.
ATC for Air Astana in Europe operates from
Paris, London, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam with four new offices offering
coverage for Austria, Spain, and Switzerland as well.
Astana, the national carrier of Kazakhstan
is headquartered in Almaty and offers both routes within Kazakhstan and
international destinations in Europe and Asia with 34 aircraft.
“We continue to deepen our service
offering as well.
“As example despite everything else
going on, ATC now has a footprint in Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, and the
Czech Republic with our own offices.”
Hot Pepper ATC In Touch 24/7
“But right now, due to the missing
capacities on passenger flights, we are working cargo-only flights, and
also charter movements to meet demand.
“In addition to all kinds of cargo
we are of course moving relief shipments of PPE, medical equipment, gloves,
masks and the like.
“Our staff up and down is the most
professional group in the world.
“ATC is an all-pro line up of ex-airline/forwarder
cargo people and logisticians, plus a spirited, engaged, young and mentored
staff with a single mission to be in contact and available 24/7. At ATC
we are taking nothing for granted during the pandemic,” Ingo declared.
2019—Customers and staff at the annual ATC Oktoberfest,
and as Ingo says:
“Right now, when it
seems everyone’s future is on the line every day, we are about
much more than just everybody working together for our customers’
“We are advancing the form of
air cargo expectations and service by people who put the customer
first and always accept responsibility far beyond what is considered
Getting Back to Business
“We can’t wait for the start
up again in 2020, to go back to growing the business of our airline partners.
“Sichuan Airlines—which we added
lasted last year with twice-weekly Thursday and Sunday service between
Brussels and Xian, China, has grown to six to eight flights weekly,”
“Sichuan Airlines, based in Chengdu,
the capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, has an extensive trucking
network that covers many major cities in China,” Ingo added.
“Aircraft is an A330 Freighter and
all of us at ATC are excited for the opportunity as 2020 unfolds, to be
part of building this exciting new route,” Ingo declared.
Long Promise Road
“During my 30 plus year career, I
have personally been involved with many start-ups.
“Each one is exciting and really the
beginning of a grand new adventure.
“To me, working with the young and
dynamic people in air cargo today, plus being part of the launch of something
new with an airline never loses its glamour and appeal,” Ingo said.
“Where others may be a bit under the
weather about the way 2020 has unfolded, and with all respect and care
for people who have suffered, I see great opportunity for our industry.
“Undoubtedly, the manner in which
we do things and some of the rules and procedures will change.
“Air Cargo, needs as an industry to
not only play the hand it has been dealt in 2020, but also to look at
what we have learned during the lockdown, and then move ahead and bring
our business back,” Ingo Zimmer said.
“It’s really a challenging and
motivating time,” Ingo said.
“You have to set the example in all
facets of the endeavor . . . for your staff.
“You must have a clear vision, goals
“Sometimes you must make decisions
that might not be understood, so it’s crucial for a leader to communicate,
to convey reason and transparency, trusting in his team.
“Most importantly, a leader must always
show that he or she is a team player as well.
“A quick look at history depicts that
very often, right or wrong, it is better to take a decision than do nothing
“So the willingness to be sure you’re
right and then go ahead is also a key trait of effective leadership,”
Ingo Zimmer said.
Four Pillars A Better Idea
An outline for unearthing new talent to
fill the ranks of his growing company is revealed as Ingo pulls out his
PDA and reads an outline of a program he is actioning at ATC.
“I have this idea of how to move forward
building ATC by simply reviewing my own career.
“I began as the cargo manager for
Germany and rose to COO Germany/Austria, then became CEO of the entire
“It includes, of course, a total talent
search, but first we look right in our own backyard for talent already
within our company.
“ATC has developed into a global company
with offices everywhere, with many people of separate and distinct cultures
speaking different languages, and everyone has special talents and capabilities.
“‘Cargo Au Pair’ in my
thinking will become a means to move people from various ATC locations
within our system to other offices on a three-month mobility program of
“This movement of select staff, for
example of ATC people from Germany working in America or from USA to,
say, France, or any number of combinations of different markets, opens
the door to better local knowledge in a market, revealing what it takes
to be more effective in moving cargo between countries worldwide.
“I have also proposed that our global
managers search throughout their staff as part of an initiative we call
“Talent Scouts will encourage certain
staff to take on other job assignments to determine which job within ATC
best suits their particular talent.
“Talent Scouts will serve within ATC
as a means to both strengthen understanding but also to build better logisticians
through cross training.
“The other aspect of our strengthening
our ranks we call Global Talent Agency (GTF),” Ingo said.
“GTF would search the entire industry
to find the best talented individuals who would either be a part of or
want to join any number of specialized work-related career opportunities
our growing company offers.”
The fourth pillar in Ingo’s “Better
Idea” plan is Training.
Here Ingo Zimmer is encouraging mentoring
between the senior and junior factions of the ATC family. His most respected
group of professional talent that has come to GSSA from various other
assignments and careers will “lean into” helping the next
generation within ATC as they move up the leadership chain of the company.
Across The Bubbly Waves
Ingo Zimmer said, if not for air cargo,
he would have loved to serve as a sea captain.
He professes a love for Cuba where he met
his wife Yeliley.
The couple continue to celebrate the birth
of their fourth child, a daughter born in January 2019, that they named
He professes a love for fast cars but also
finds time away from work at the family retreat in Andalusia “where
I must force myself to turn off my cell phone at least for an occasional
swim and quality family time.”
Nice Guys Finish First
“ATC is my life and passion, alongside
my wonderful family that exists for me at home, and at our offices inside
Cargo City Sud at Frankfurt International Airport,” Ingo Zimmer
He is a big guy, maybe six-foot-seven, with
a quick smile and a way that makes life easy for all around, whether during
a negotiation or out on a fun daytrip that finishes with beer and pretzels
on top of a mountain in Bavaria.
Ingo is easygoing, so he views the world
with no small amount of satisfaction.
Right now, from any measurement or height,
Ingo Zimmer is sitting on top of the world.
Ingo Zimmer is respected in part because
despite his standing and power in the business, he retains a quick sense
of humanity and humor.
In every situation he comes across in the
best way: human and caring.
It’s nice to think about perhaps a
meeting or a party as 2020 gets deeper where we may appear in masks as
we go about elbow greeting instead of shaking hands.
Good to talk to Ingo and think, as he moves
from success to success, that sometimes nice guys finish first.