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   Vol. 18 No. 18
Tuesday March 12, 2019

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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


Vive la différence
Guillaume Halleux and Geoffrey Arend and Cabin Crew

     Normally we prefer to stay out of the picture, but as we were making our way to the opening evening meet and greet at the Mandarin Bay Sands Conference Center, we encountered an enormous horde of young people, 30 somethings that came streaming out of an adjacent hall, laughing and talking and elevating the atmosphere in the hallway. As I entered our hall, I thought wouldn't it be nice if everybody attending WCS 2019 would bring in one person under 30.
     Imagine what could happen if the under 30 and the over 30 got together.
     For the record, in 2013 IATA launched a program FACE (Future Air Cargo Executives) in response to the industry's need for young and aspiring professionals in the cargo industry.
     Just before this picture was taken, enter Guillaume Halleux, Chief Cargo Officer Qatar Airways in his smiling and gentle manner saying, “as a matter of fact I brought along two people under 30!” Vive la différence.

Wings Of Layda
Layda Garcia     Layda Garcia started her career in aviation with Eastern Airlines the wings of man.
     Today 46 years later, she is still in air cargo. We can only marvel at the wings of this most extraordinary woman and know her work in the airline business has affected people around the world.
     Layda Garcia, Director Carrier Network and Sales, Amerijet Cargo is based in Miami.
     “I love this business, the people, the work we do, delivering cargo everywhere.
     “As we gather here in Singapore, I see many familiar faces and old friends and I certainly will make some new ones.
     “Air cargo is never boring. It is full of people who are dedicated and up to any challenge.”
     Asked whether looking back 46 years, would she do it again.
     “Do you think that's possible,” Layda smiles sheepishly.
     We can all take off on the wings of Layda.

Vladimir ZubkovNew Horizons
     You ask Vladimir Zubkov what he likes about air cargo and this likeable 49-year industry veteran with smiling eyes comes on like a breath of fresh air, and full of engaging ideas.
     ‘The thing I love about air cargo is the diversity. You meet people from all parts of the world, learn about different cultures and become life-long friends.
     “Serving Tiaca has continued to enhance that experience. The best thing I can say about my career over almost the past 5 decades is that I would do it all over again and not change a thing.
     “Air cargo has expanded my horizons and continues to do so every day.

Stanley Lim

     Stanley Lim is currently the Group Chief Operating Officer of Addicon Logistics Management with headquarters in Singapore.
     Mr. Lim served as President of FIATA 2011-2013 and today is part of the extended board of FIATA the largest freight forwarder organization in the world.
     We asked Stanley Why FIATA?

Jim Hogan, Naresh Goyal and Jen-Marc Janaillac

Jet Airways’ Chairman Naresh Goyal stepped down on March 1, ending 25 years with a whimper; aviation pundits in India were not surprised.
Fliers will agree that not too long ago, Jet had set the gold standard for service and excellence.
But over the last few years, its quarterly losses had grown, as had its woes.
In just ten years, the company with close to 50 percent market share went down to less than 15.

Grounded Fleet

     In early March, for example, 47 of Jet’s planes were on the ground. In addition to that, 9 ATRs and 36 B737 series aircraft, which included all its B737 MAX8 planes, were grounded at various locations across the country.
     Jet also just stopped flying to a number of destinations within the country.

Verdict On Goyal

     Part of the reason for the airline running to the ground was Goyal’s manner.
     He is famous for his temper tantrums and well known for taking pot shots at his senior staff anytime, anywhere.
     Witness the number of top management officials who quit the carrier.
     His wife Anita Goyal, who is also on the board was in charge of the commercial department and ran it like her own empire.
     It was often said that nothing moved in the department without a nod from the ‘Madam’.

King of Networking

     But these quirks were more than made up by Naresh Goyal’s fantastic ability to network with the high and mighty in the world of aviation, as well as in the corridors of power in Delhi.
     Naresh was so good at his networking that he made sure Jet had no major competitor apart from Air India.
     Air India, in fact, was told to fall in line through directives from the civil aviation ministry that was influenced by Goyal.
     It is well known that Goyal’s lobbying with Ministers and politicians put the screws to moves by the Tata-Singapore Airline JV in the mid-Nineties (he apparently convinced them that the JV was anti-national).
     For their part, the Tatas did not take it too kindly and when Goyal went with a begging bowl asking for help sometime ago, the Tatas simply said, ‘No, thank you.’

Naresh Goyal and Geoffrey ArendNo One Cares

     Now, no one listens to Goyal in the corridors of power.
     So, his appeal to the government for help, and mind you this is election time, has gone unheard.
     The government would not like a failed Jet Airways; it would send the wrong signals to the people on the eve of a countrywide election. The politicians here have made it clear to the primary lenders, the banks, to save Jet Airways but not Naresh Goyal.
     So, where does that leave Jet Airways?
     Lenders led by the State Bank of India own 50 percent equity in the airline through 114 million new shares that were issued under the new regulations of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for companies which have negative net worth.
     Now, there is a view that the airline will survive to see another day, perhaps in another form but in the same name.

Looking For New Partners?

     If the market and aviation watchers are to be believed, the main bank, State Bank of India’s scenario for Jet will be coaxing Etihad, a minority shareholder in Jet Airways (it has 24 percent stake in the airline and 50.1 per cent in its frequent flier program, JetPrivilege), to provide new leadership.
     Once the airline stabilizes, the search will start for a buyer.

Going Bankrupt

     Another option is to let Jet go bankrupt.
     If that happens, the Tatas could buy Jet Airways. Naresh Goyal, who still holds a sizable percentage of Jet Airways stock, obviously would not favor that move or like it at all.
     Infusion of finances along with a leaner cost structure could save the airline.
     All this upheaval is playing out as Jet Airways marks its 25th year, celebrating with a “Looking back, Soaring ahead” attempt at branding.
     No doubt 2019 will be a year Naresh Goyal will look back at for a long, long time.
Tirthankar Ghosh

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