The dynamic industry leading lady profiled
here is our very own Keshav (FIATA Board) Tanna's wife.
Hema Tanna runs her own cargo business along
with her brother.
Although Keshav has mentioned, “funnily
we are competitors,” for India Logistics, the Tanna family is a
powerful force for good up and down the line.
Here Comes Hema
Mumbai-based Hema Tanna, Director, Manilal
Patel Clearing Forwarding Pvt. Ltd., could have ‘strayed’
to the travel industry but something about cargo attracted her so much
that she joined a logistics company that had been established by her grandfather.
That was way back in 1998.
Today, with two decades in the air freight
and ocean freight forwarding industry, Hema is considered a ‘hands
on’ person, with complete knowledge of the industry processes.
The 70-year-old family-owned logistics company
is carried forward by her elder brother and herself. The duo has set up
nine regional offices in India and have also moved to set up offices in
France – Paris and Lille – and in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Hema Tanna’s guiding spirit has been
her father, who unfortunately passed away at a very young age. She remembers
his words to keep on focusing on the business and the people who work
In 2020 Cargo In A Place of Pride
“Cargo has perhaps never seen such importance in its entire life as it is
witnessing at present!” Hema Tanna declares.
“Carriers have hopefully realized,
that in these difficult times when thousands of jobs have been lost, along
with billions of dollars in revenues, the only help line came from air
“As Governments closed down their
borders, passenger traffic disappeared overnight, and along with that,
so did belly capacities.
“That same piece of cargo which had
no voice, now sat on the same passenger seat and was a virtual Godsend
in these difficult times.
“Not so long ago, when it went in
the belly of the aircraft, it was perhaps ruthlessly removed to accommodate
a piece of passenger baggage – how times change!
“Being involved in the business of
air transportation, I can only hope that carriers do not forget this and
remember what an important role cargo plays in airline revenues.”
Lest We Forget
“I would like to see that this continues
for future – rates of course are questionable currently, but I guess
demand versus supply would take care of that in future.
“Of course, one must also remember,
that had it not been for air transportation, movement of even essential
commodities would have come to a grinding halt and I applaud the carriers
for standing by in these difficult times; the industry fully acknowledges
that the carriers are seeing some unprecedented times, but have stood
by in support of the trade in moving medical supplies, pharmaceuticals,
vaccines and other life-saving equipment, be it PPEs, masks, etc.”
Been Ready For The Antidote
“As and when a vaccine is developed
there is no doubt that it would move by air and the quicker the industry
prepares for this, the better.
“A lot of pharmaceuticals already
move by airfreight currently and hence the industry does have the basic
infrastructure like temperature control facilities, GPS-monitored transportation,
etc in place; however one must remember that this movement is not going
to be only from airport of origin to airport of destination; there is
a huge hinterland movement to be expected and that is where logisticians
like us will have to be prepared to move the same swiftly and under sterile
“There is no doubt,” Hema declared,
“that Governments will be hawk-eyeing these movements, with possible
monitoring of rates and hence competitiveness will be the key.
“For a short period of time then,
demand might overshoot supply and air cargo space could be an issue; but
this is inevitable as the vaccine will need to find its’ way into
the global markets swiftly and only air cargo can achieve that mobility.”
“Be that as it may and all said and
done, currently in commercial terms, air cargo itself has proven to be
a vaccine for the airlines!”
2020 Has Been A Real Adventure
“I must concede,” Hema Tanna
admits,” that nothing and absolutely nothing, comes even close in
my 20 years in this industry, which can be compared as a parallel to 2020!!
“Many years ago when I joined the
cargo business I had a choice of joining the more glamorous travel industry
and as a woman that would, perhaps, have been the choice of any other
“The cargo business is looked at perhaps
to be more male-dominant.
“Nevertheless,” Hema assures,
“I chose to join the family business – which is cargo and
I am glad I did that, as otherwise today perhaps I would have no work
to do with passenger flights virtually at a standstill.”
The Woman Stands Up For Cargo
“So as a woman, I feel reassured that
I did take the right decision because had it not been for cargo, I have
no idea how the aviation industry would have survived.
“It has been devastating and only
reminds me of how my Dad spoke about the War during my younger days –
human and commercial devastation at its worst!
“How long it would take for global
trade to be back on track is anyone’s guess, but for family run
businesses like ours, daylight still seems a distant future.”
The Company Line
“We are situated in India with branches
in major metro cities; we also have our own office in Paris and the biggest
challenge has been how to deal with order cancellations.
“Customers have simply abandoned shipments
and we as nominated forwarders have been lumped with not only the cargo,
but also ancillary charges attached to it, such as storage, freight etc.”
“The biggest lesson the forwarding
industry should have got from this pandemic is how to control credit,
as businesses have vanished overnight and many others have taken refuge
under the force majeure clause.
“Digitalization has played a big role
during these trying times and those who were not in sync with the need
of the hour suffered badly, as virtually all businesses were being conducted
online; physical intervention being impossible, one saw the industry in
a rapid ramp up mode to trade digitally.”
“Indian Customs went through a huge
faceless/paperless exercise which is now in place; air cargo requires
various mandatory and or voluntary trainings – most of these modules
are now available online as classroom training became impossible.
“This is going to be the new normal
going ahead and those who have not ramped up their systems will already
be finding themselves in very difficult times.
“Like they say, there is always something
good in everything, but honestly I can’t wait for good times to
be back soon – wish I had a crystal ball!”