Roger Samways has
served as Vice President Cargo Sales for American Airlines since March
of this year. During that time, it has been easier to catch up with him
on the road at a trade show or out in customer country than in his office
down Texas way, where AA Cargo is headquartered.
Since American is growing by leaps and
bounds internationally, that also means Roger is sometimes several time
zones away each month as he builds the face and image of AA Cargo worldwide.
Roger speaks with a soft but definite British
accent. He has spent just shy of 17 years in cargo at American, beginning
in 2001 as regional cargo sales manager in Northern Europe.
We caught up with Roger (in between
flights) just as Air Cargo Americas readied takeoff this week in Miami.
Faces Not Surprising
about my position has surprised me per se, I can tell you I’m grateful
for all of the support I’ve received from the cargo community and
our internal worldwide team.
“It’s been a great year so
far, and we’re excited to bring in Lisa Oxentine as managing director
of global and key accounts for Cargo Sales at American Airlines.
“An industry veteran with more than
30 years of experience, Lisa will lead our global and key accounts team,
with an emphasis on further building and growing lasting relationships
with our customers.”
a Good Year Coming
“As we wrap up 2017,
we are continuing our focus on the importance of our customers and their
overall experience. We’re investing in our ExpediteTC product with
improved cold chain facilities, which is crucial to us. Our success hinges
on our ability to move delicate materials through our network, which serves
more than 157 cities in 45 countries around the globe. We are making strides
towards earning a CEIV certification from IATA. That is so important to
us because it impartially validates the proper transportation of delicate,
temperature-controlled pharmaceutical shipments.
“Beyond that, it’s business
as usual for us. We are always promoting our network development within
the Cargo division, supporting fleet renewal and delivery, and focusing
“The cargo industry
is on an upswing, and we are extremely pleased with how we’ve performed
over the past year.
“We have really focused a lot of
our efforts on eAWB and making sure we have the right processes in place
to facilitate our growth. We were off to a slow start relative to the
industry because of the merger a few years back, but it’s been really
wonderful to see us reach new highs with every passing month. We are the
fastest-growing U.S. carrier in eAWB adoption, and now more than two-thirds
of all of our international AWBs are being processed digitally.
“As we move forward with developing
products and reaching new markets, I believe we are well-positioned for
even further growth. Considering that we offer about 6,700 flights per
day with a widebody fleet that’s 150-aircraft strong—including
our newest, the Boeing 787-9—we are confident in the future.
“We’re also expanding our network
to include our brand new PEK-LAX route, which we view as an incredible
opportunity to provide additional capacity into an incredibly important
cargo market. We are also planning routes to Budapest and Prague next
“We have also increased our number
of domestic widebodies in order to strengthen the connectivity between
our U.S. hubs. Collectively, such an efficient aircraft fleet ensures
that we’ll be able to continue expanding our network, offering customers
more and more choices out of Asia, South America, and Europe every year.
Truly, one of our network strengths is our ability to effectively and
efficiently move shipments between Asia and Latin America through our
U.S. gateway hubs. This is particularly true when it comes to temperature-controlled
commodities like perishables and pharmaceuticals.”
Of My Heart
proud of our operational service performance, as well as our ability to
adapt to ever-changing demand. It’s all possible because of our
entire team—from fleet service clerks and crew chiefs to agents
and our ramp team.
“During 2017 AA Cargo broke the new
station record for outbound monthly freight out of LHR. Totaling 16,043,003
pounds, we broke our previous record from the year before, when we eclipsed
16 million pounds last October.
“I could go on and on about our incredible
team, but I won’t; suffice to say that one thing is certain: without
the excellence, cooperation, and dedication of our team, these records
and awards could not have been achieved.”
Investments In Future
“We are investing
in the future of our business like never before. The most important part
of that investment is in our team members. Investments in new infrastructure
and systems directly translate into our ability to better take care of
each other and our customers, and to forge lasting partnerships with vendors
and others in the field. We know the best way to improve business is through
collaboration. For example, tools like our customer relationship management
software help our entire team keep in better touch with our customers
and allow us to more effectively coordinate the way that we manage relationships.
We also have a new open plan headquarters facility, which helps us better
collaborate between teams. “When we all work together, it’s
truly remarkable what we can achieve.”
to Face With Roger
“With the exception
of a couple of years spent in Nigeria where my parents were teaching,
I was born in Oxford, England, and grew up in the UK. I’d always
wanted to become a lawyer (they are called solicitors in the UK, but think
this has a different meaning in the U.S.!), so I studied law at Huddersfield
University. After graduating, my sister and I travelled around the U.S.
and Canada, driving cross-country from New York to Los Angeles. “It
took about 6 weeks, but it was incredible to be able to climb the Half
Dome in Yosemite and go whitewater rafting in Canada.
“Although I did find law interesting,
my heart just wasn’t in it. Truth be told, I wanted a job meeting
and interacting with people, so sales was a perfect fit. As luck would
have it, a chance encounter during a cricket game the day after I returned
from traveling around the U.S. led me to interview for a GSA position
based at Heathrow, which I was lucky enough to be successful in. It’s
funny—the job description clearly stated previous experience was
required. I must have been the only applicant!
“I love good food, exercising (necessary
because of the love of food), playing golf (badly, and not nearly as regularly
as I would like), and spending time with my family (not necessarily in
that order!). I also enjoy watching football (the real kind, not the American
kind) and I’m especially proud of my favorite club, Watford, a small
team outside of London who are punching above their weight in the English
Air Cargo Americas Matters
“Trade shows are a great opportunity to spend time with loads of
customers, suppliers, and team members and provide a great opportunity
for receiving lots of feedback
“Also air cargo events are a chance
to keep your pulse on, and engage with people in, the industry.
“As mentioned, it’s through
feedback and participating in ongoing discussions that we can become more
forward-thinking as a corporation.
“Using that feedback, we continue
to position ourselves as cargo industry leaders.”
Freight Forwarder Partnership
“We rely on and
have great respect for freight forwarders, as they are integral to the
success of the Cargo division, and our partnership with our forwarder
customers will continue to be key to our success.
“In fact, so far in 2017 our Cargo
IQ scores have been fantastic in regards to the partnerships we’ve
forged. We are the most reliable and fastest U.S. airline at notifying
our partners when their shipments are ready to be picked up, and I think
that truly speaks to how much we value those relationships.
“We also believe that there is room
for broader discussions involving both shippers and forwarders in order
to achieve a common understanding of shippers’ needs and to enable
us to jointly define solutions that truly meet these needs. We’ve
seen this approach work particularly well in sectors such as cold chain.
“I am extremely proud of the relationships
we’ve built with our customers. “But we’re always looking
to further improve and facilitate that connection. “We regularly
look to freight forwarders for feedback—feedback that helps us continue
to grow and evolve together.
very early to talk about my legacy in air cargo as I hope to continue
developing and expanding my career.
“If there is an enduring mark during
my time here, I am hopeful it will be the formation of meaningful, long-lasting
relationships in the industry.
“I want to make a difference in how
we shape the customer experience, whether it’s solidifying and expanding
our organizational and technological foundations to better our core, customer-focused
strategy, streamlining the customer communications process, and implementing
initiatives that lead to greater consistency in communication…
and I want to make sure that we have fun whilst doing so!
“Leadership is an awesome responsibility
“Our 120,000 American Airlines team
members, as well as their family members, rely on us to be a growing,
thriving employer, one that provides an inclusive, supportive work environment
that everyone looks forward to being a part of. That’s why I support
our core leadership attributes of caring for our team members and collaborating
so we succeed.
“It’s important to support
the development of our team members. After all, we’re not just in
the air cargo business—we’re also in the business of building
future leaders. We respect our team members and give them the latitude
to learn, make a difference, and succeed.
“American truly believes it can be
the best at everything it does, so we are constantly seeking ways to improve
and innovate. Naturally, we rely on our passionate team members to make
that happen. Never content to accept the status quo, our leaders and future
leaders are big picture thinkers, and we support their quest to create
“Personally, I want to play a role
in that positive change and know I helped make a difference, not just
in the corporation but also in the day-to-day lives of our people.”