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   Vol. 23 No. 18

Monday April 15, 2024

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Alicia Lines, Chris McLaughlin and Stephanie Abeler

     As Cargo Network Services Corp. (CNS) Partnership Opened In Dallas
In the picture during Opening Session April 15 in Dallas,Texas saw CNS President (ad interim) Alicia Lines (left in photo above) assert:
     “Air cargo keeps the world moving with 35% of goods by value shipped by air.
     “Industry needs to remain resilient,” Lines said.
     Host airport Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) Executive VP Operations Chris McLaughlin (center in photo above) noted:
     “This year of 2024 is the 50th Anniversary of our gateway airport.
     “DFW is the fourth largest metroplex and the third largest passenger airport in the world. We are also the largest 'carbon neutral airport',” Mr. McLaughlin declared.
     “DFW will move 100 million passengers by 2030.
     “Our big story for cargo is that 120 companies have relocated to Dallas, Texas in the past decade as we move toward a nine-billion-dollar expansion plan that will include a 19th Street upgrade and improvement to support our growing air cargo enterprise.”
     As the CNS opening continued, the importance of listening deemed a priority, Stephanie Abeler, (right in photo above) VP Americas Lufthansa Cargo nailed it all down for everyone.
     Others brought some ingredients to the fore as the morning opening continued, but Stephanie stirred the drink and really got the party going for the some 300 people in the session.
     “I spend a large amount of my time seeing customers and partners, both local and global; building up and maintaining relationships, listening to both views and complaints.
     “If we want to be sustainably successful and deliver a excellent service to our joint customers and connect the world, I believe partnership was, is and will be essential.
     “Partnerships between forwarders, groundhandlers, airlines, airports, regulators, anyone participating in moving freight from door-to-door is what this industry and CNS is all about and that is what drives Lufthansa Cargo.
     “Let's put to good use all the business cards, the multitude of conversations, the thousands of meeting minutes, the cocktail hours of networking; and not forget to strike the right balance between give and take.
     “Thank you and good luck for a successful conference and look forward to seeing some of you,” the lady, Stephanie Abeler concluded.

chuckles for March 16, 2022

brandon Fried, Moritz Claussen, Salih Kamil Salihoglu, Susana Pereira and Michelle Williams

     As Cargo Network Services Corp. (CNS) Partnership Conference continued in Dallas April 15, a session titled "State of The Industry, Partnering For A Changing World", hit on some interesting points.
     At the session chaired by Brandon Fried from right are: Michelle Williams, MD Strategy & Business Services Southwest Airlines; Susana Pereira, VP IAF Global Procurement UPS Supply Chain Solutions; Salih Kamil Salihoglu, Cargo VP Americas Turkish Airlines and Moritz Claussen, Co-CEO
     Michelle said that Southwest Cargo “has made incredible strides incorporating IT and innovation into the air cargo product offering.
     “It was the pace of innovation we were able to experience in the pandemic. How do we keep up with that pace of innovation now?
     “During the pandemic were able to get things done very fast and see explosive growth and not just in what we carried.
     “I'm talking more about how things change, because the only way we could carry that much stuff was through innovation.
     “I think one of the challenges domestically that we see is it being an election year.
     “Election years always come with a certain amount of uncertainty and pose challenges to us, and this is somewhat isolated to the United States, but impact is felt everywhere.”
     Susana Pereira noted, Big Brown continues to invest heavily in technology.
     “We really believe data connectivity is key for the future.
     “Having a full digitalized sales and customer experience, UPS teams are bringing that on as standard,” she said.
     Salih Kamil Salihoglu,Turkish Cargo pointed to the importance of collaboration:
     “Last year THY opened service to Detroit.
     “This year we are going to start in Denver in the summer schedule.
     “Now in addition to our infrastructure in Turkey, we are quite competitive on the network side.
     “Turkish Airlines reaches most countries in the world, but we are still are not in some regions like Australia, South America.
     “So, collaboration comes to mind, we really need some partners.
     “I believe there, are some new forms of collaborations in the future in our industry,” Salih said.
     Plain talking is something we understand and in some circles in America really appreciate. This panel was great and long on that, especially Moritz Claussen, who did the smart thing and got right to the point.
     “I was,” Moritz told the gathering, "in Europe before my current role.
     “Am in America here just for a year now.
     “Maybe that’s not long enough to make a generalization regarding the situation here in U.S., but here goes.
     “It seems for me that U.S. is a little bit lagging behind Europe in terms of digitalization, automation, adoption, and so on.
     “Here, air cargo is conducted more in the traditional manner, compared to Europe, which rapidly is integrating into digital.
     “But here,” Moritz smiled, “the relationships seem very honest.”

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Bella Donna—A Thoughtful Tally For Kale

Mirco Renfer, Chris Busch, Mark Albrecht, Peggy Guse, Helen Kristensen, Manu Jacobs, Jacques Leijssenaar and Jan Krems.

     Sometimes when you truly love somebody or someplace the feeling can drive a further celebration. I have loved Chicago where I first went to school and was elected President of the Third Grade. I am still a member of the fabulous Chicago Art Museum where I got lost in the beauty of the place and the art especially by Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks when I was only 12 years old. So Chicago as home base for United Airlines has always been a fave, not only because UA is a great story, but also for the emotion of lifelong love affair with that city that endures and continues to burn brightly.
     Not only is Jan Krem, President of United Cargo, preeminent at what we consider the most exciting airline cargo program of this decade, but as 2024 stays the carrier continues to set the pace with a new, captivating and exciting offering. There is something irresistible in Team United that has delivered excellence, concern and performance to our industry. Impossible to avoid thinking of the strength of the teams when they play in the arena.
     As baseball begins in America, we are thinking about team play and what it can mean both in sports and business. Chicago is home to lots of sports teams, not only the Chicago Cubs the boys of summer play games of baseball in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field that opened 110 years ago April 14, 1914. The United Cargo Team of 2024 described here includes eight people ensconced and comfortably situated inside the beautiful iconic Willis Tower. That United Cargo is in some part a product of its surroundings is no reach we discover after talking to the team in a round robin fashion over a number of years. There is just so much that shines from that picture!
     On May 28th 1971 Rod Stewart published his iconic album "Every Picture Tells a Story”. At the time it appeared, it had a distinctive, soothing sound in a landscape that was mostly dominated by a much harder approach to rock music. When I saw the picture here , Stewart’s title instantly came to mind. Look at the picture from left to right all our friends from United are there: Mirco, Chris, Mark, Peggy, Helen, Manu, Jacques, Jan. They show their relaxed, joyful and forward looking faces at their best. It is precisely as set above: a distinctive, soothing glimpse on the airline’s team, which is otherwise dealing with the difficulties of the job on a daily basis, which is a much harder version of the same. So let us get to know these wonderful people more personally. Here is the perfect example of the power of people and place in a rare behind the scenes look at Team United in 2024 as CNS Partnership meets in Texas, and the band plays on.

Chris BuschChris Busch is Vice President, Cargo Americas for United Airlines. He is responsible for all aspects of United Cargo's North America, South America and Latin America sales, operations, and revenue management. Chris has been with United Airlines for 16 years and has held several positions including Director of Cargo Revenue Management for United, with responsibilities for the Global Revenue Management and Sales Strategy groups. He was happy to take some of our questions.

FT:   The arrangements for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines represent one of the largest logistics operations ever, but can we say that the operation managed to stand on its feet from an economic point of view, or was just the benefit for United from the image point of view that justified the investment?
CB:   The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a seismic disruption in the aviation sector, affecting United Airlines and its counterparts worldwide. Almost overnight, the landscape of international travel underwent a drastic transformation, with our daily international widebody departures plummeting from over 300 to a mere handful, possibly six or fewer flights. This abrupt downturn compelled us to swiftly pivot our focus towards sustaining our cargo operations, safeguarding global supply chains, and ensuring the continued functionality of our airline.
     In response to the unparalleled reduction in passenger flights, we initiated Freight Only Flights to keep our aircraft, pilots, and cargo infrastructure operational. Although these flights might not have been financially viable under normal circumstances, they served as a pragmatic solution to prevent our assets from remaining idle. While we cannot divulge precise financial figures, it's essential to acknowledge that these flights played a pivotal role in maintaining operational continuity and facilitating the uninterrupted flow of essential goods during an exceptionally challenging period.
     The transportation of COVID-19 vaccines presented an exceptional opportunity for United Airlines to embody our corporate mission of "Good Leads The Way." Throughout the pandemic, our commitment to supporting public health initiatives and serving communities remained unwavering.      Transporting a substantial volume of vaccines, including the distinction of being the first passenger airline to transport vaccines to the USA, stands as a remarkable achievement and a testament to our dedication to societal welfare.
     While the economic viability of certain operations during the pandemic may have posed challenges, our commitment to upholding our corporate mission and contributing to global initiatives remained resolute. The successful delivery of COVID-19 vaccines underscores our adaptability in navigating unprecedented circumstances, our leadership in times of crisis, and our responsibility to the communities we serve.

Jacques LeijssenaarJacques Leijssenaar is Vice President, United Cargo EMEIA for United Airlines. He is responsible for all aspects of United Cargo's activity in the EMEIA region and plans and directs the work of United Cargo's team of sales, operations, and revenue management professionals in the region.

FT:   Your assignment covers the largest area in the world in terms of population and is one of the hottest areas of the world, both politically and diplomatically. This is also an area where competition is fierce. Probably it is impossible to say this is a comfortable position, but you surely have reasons for being satisfied. Can you name three, please?
JL:   Despite operating in a challenging and fiercely competitive environment, these factors collectively contribute to our success and position us for continued growth and relevance in the region:
          •   Pipelining Concept: Our innovative pipelining concept, which involves channeling units between and via our hubs in Europe and/or the US, enables us to provide seamless and endless routing opportunities for our customers. This approach allows us to offer a level of flexibility and accessibility that is unparalleled in the industry. Additionally, the establishment of a dedicated commercial desk for big shipments and projects has allowed us to enter markets traditionally dominated by full freighters, thereby expanding our capacity offerings and enhancing our competitive edge.
          •   Operational Performance: Our operational performance serves as the cornerstone of our reliability concept. By focusing extensively on BUPs (build-up pallets) or full units, we have been able to maintain a consistently high level of operational efficiency and reliability. This reliability not only instills confidence in our customers but also positions us as a preferred choice in the fiercely competitive market.
          •   Increased Market Position in Specialty Products: We have made significant strides in bolstering our market position in the specialty product segment, particularly in the Temperature Controlled segment, as well as in the Fashion and Automotive verticals. Through targeted strategies and investments, we have successfully captured a larger share of these lucrative markets, further solidifying our presence and relevance in the region. This diversification and expansion into specialized segments have not only contributed to revenue growth but also enhanced our reputation as a versatile and reliable logistics partner.

Mirco RenferMirco Renfer is Vice President, United Cargo Asia Pacific. He is responsible for all aspects of United Cargo's activity in the Asia Pacific region and plans and directs the work of United Cargo's team of sales, operations, and revenue management professionals in the region. Renfer joined United Airlines in 2006. Prior to his assuming his current role, he led United Cargo Sales for the Europe, Middle East, India and Africa region. Before joining United, Renfer worked for United Cargo's General Sales Agent in Switzerland for nine years in operations and sales positions of increasing responsibility.

FT:   Your assignment covers the second largest area of the world in terms of population and it is well on its way to become the biggest in terms of economy, if it is not already. Competition is constant, but volumes have been generous in recent years. You are coming from an experience in Switzerland and then EMEIA. What makes Asia so interesting for you and United?
MR:   For me personally, transitioning from markets where capacity typically exceeds demand to those where the reverse holds true was a significant change. However, it was also an incredibly interesting shift. In Asia, managing the capacity to best serve our customers' needs while maximizing revenue opportunities for both them and United has been a stimulating challenge. Every inch and pound of capacity becomes crucial, and optimizing its utilization becomes a top priority.
     Another intriguing aspect of the transition was the shift in geography. In EMEIA, we could rely on trucking for the transportation of goods around our capacity. However, in Asia, trucking is not a feasible option. Therefore, we had to orchestrate a robust interline solution within the region to ensure that cargo reached our capacity's departure points efficiently and effectively.
     For United Cargo, the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region remains profoundly captivating. It stands as a powerhouse of production and is rapidly becoming the world's economic epicenter. The exponential growth of e-commerce is just one facet of APAC's expanding landscape. Additionally, the pharmaceutical sector is witnessing the emergence of new products, while the automotive industry is witnessing the rapid rise of new brands. United's advantage in this dynamic environment lies in the necessity for speed in transporting these products. Our commitment to daily Transpac flights, with 95% of them operating on a daily basis, underscores our dedication to meeting market demands promptly.
     Moreover, our position as the largest commercial airline on the Transpac sector, coupled with the extensive spread of our departures across North, Central, and Southeast Asia, as well as the Oceanic region, further exemplifies our keen interest and investment in the APAC market. This strategic positioning allows us to cater to the diverse needs of customers across the region efficiently and underscores our commitment to facilitating trade and connectivity in this dynamic and rapidly evolving market.
     The dynamic nature of the Asia-Pacific region, coupled with its rapid economic growth and evolving market landscape, presents immense opportunities for United Cargo. Our ability to adapt, innovate, and strategically position ourselves enables us to thrive in this competitive environment and continue delivering value to our customers and stakeholders alike.

Helen KristensenHelen Kristensen is the Vice President of United Cargo's Strategic, Interline, Government, and Mail Accounts. She is responsible for leading the team of United Cargo professionals who manage the organization's largest global accounts including freight forwarders, interline partners, the U.S. Government, and global postal partnerships. Kristensen joined United Airlines in 1995 and held management positions in Passenger Sales, Sales Planning, Airport Operations, Customer Satisfaction and United's Mileage Plus organization. She also served as a United Cargo Sales Strategic Partner Manager for seven years prior to assuming her current role.

FT:   You probably hold one of the most difficult positions with regard to the required level of compliance. Your career also indicates a strong bond with the customer. At times we see that customers’ needs and a strong compliance culture seem to stand at either ends of the company’s interests. How do you manage to conciliate these two strong and unavoidable facets so successfully in your job?
HK:  You are indeed correct that I feel a very strong bond with our customers and my team always strives to present our customers with solutions that meet their needs. I am fortunate to work for an airline that, in my opinion, has the best network of any carrier in the world, along with the best fleet. My team utilizes both widebody and narrowbody aircraft to provide unique and innovative solutions for our customers. We have also worked hard to expand our partner relationships to complement and “fill in the gaps” when it comes to our global coverage. All of these factors combined make it easy to always be able to find solutions for our entire portfolio of customers.
     My team is also well-versed in the complex regulations that govern our business and our customer relationships. We receive terrific support from our compliance teams and they understand the importance of finding solutions that work for our customers. They are partners and part of the process when we are trying to solve for something we have not encountered before or when faced with changes to existing processes. All of us are persistent and have cargo hearts so even if we are challenged by a new opportunity, we will keep working at it to find a way to support our customers and grow the business together.

Peggy GusePeggy Guse is Vice President, Cargo Marketing, Customer Service and Alliances for United Airlines. She has oversight for a broad range of support functions within United Cargo including Marketing & eCommerce, Strategy & Analytics, Technology Products & Development, Customer Service and Alliance partnerships. Prior to joining the United Cargo organization, Guse held leadership positions in United's Contact Center Strategy and Sales Strategy groups. She is a veteran of the travel industry having held senior management positions in the car rental, hotel and travel agency segments prior to joining United Airlines.

  From a certain point of view, you hold one of the most important positions in the company. Your career seems to indicate a strong calling to travel and tourism, but you privileged cargo in United. We have two questions for you: “how important is cultural diversity in your strategy?” is our first question, and the second: “it seems to be difficult for airlines to think of cargo at the same level as passengers in terms of strategy and importance, what about United’s view on this?”
PG:  How important is cultural diversity in our strategy . . . in one word . . . “very”. As a global organization, we value cultural diversity in our customers, our product offerings and our team. Our customers and their needs come in all shapes and sizes. We do our best to build a customer-focused strategy to fulfill a wide range of ever-changing needs. The same is true for our team—a diverse cross-section of experiences, backgrounds and skills is a “big piece of the puzzle” when assembling a world-class team. So, cultural awareness/diversity are indeed very important in our quest to be the best!
     As for your second, question, at United, as with most companies, every part of the organization has a role to play. Our role in the cargo arm of the organization is to optimize the belly of the aircraft by moving valuable freight for our customers. Whether it’s shipping perishables, automotive parts or vaccines – we provide a great service for our customers while also contributing to the bottom line of the company. We whole-heartedly embrace the role we play in contributing to the success of the broader organization.

Manu JacobsManu Jacobs is Managing Director, Specialty Products at United Cargo. He oversees United Cargo’s suite of Specialty Products including Express, TempControl, QuickPak, PetSafe, TrustUA, and UASecure. He is also one of the founding members of United’s COVID-19 Vaccine Readiness Task Force. Jacobs joined United Cargo in July 2016. Prior to his United role, Jacobs spent 15 years at Air France/KLM Cargo as Director of Global Business Development for the pharmaceutical division.

FT:   This is another area where the required level of compliance is strong, in this case the pressure probably comes both from regulatory compliance as well as customers’ requirements. Your career indicates a strong experience with pharmaceuticals. You must have lived the COVID-19 vaccines’ mission as a God-given blessing, or did it sound almost as a sentence for doing time? It was surely a glorious moment of United, but at what cost?
MJ:   The required level of regulatory compliance is indeed a critical aspect, and at United, we view it as a positive force driving excellence and reliability in our operations. We understand the significance of adhering to stringent regulations, not only from a regulatory standpoint but also in meeting the expectations of our customers. This heightened level of compliance serves as a constant reminder that the patients receiving these pharmaceutical products could very well be our own loved ones, which underscores the gravity of our responsibility.
     The establishment of United's unique Covid-19 readiness taskforce presented significant challenges initially, but it ultimately proved to be immensely rewarding. While the mission to transport COVID-19 vaccines was not bestowed upon us as a God-given blessing, it was undoubtedly a critical and life-saving endeavor. However, navigating through uncharted territory and overcoming numerous obstacles along the way presented its own set of challenges.
     Thanks to our enterprise-wide approach and exceptional collaboration with governmental agencies, regulatory bodies, and vaccine developers, we were able to implement industry-changing operational protocols. It was a race against time, but our efforts paid off, as evidenced by the adoption of our innovative processes by many airlines. Our initiative to safely increase dry ice amounts on board aircraft has particularly been game-changing, enabling airlines worldwide to transport vaccines more effectively.
     Countless hours of dedication and energy were poured into this endeavor by everyone at United and numerous stakeholders beyond. However, despite the challenges and sacrifices, we would willingly and wholeheartedly embark on this journey again. The profound impact of our contributions to global health and the understanding gained by our children regarding the significance of our work serve as testament to the importance and value of our efforts.
     While the mission to transport COVID-19 vaccines was undoubtedly challenging and demanding, it was also profoundly fulfilling and impactful. Our commitment to excellence, collaboration, and innovation allowed us to navigate through obstacles and contribute to the global fight against the pandemic, leaving a lasting legacy in the process.

Mark AlbrechtMark Albrecht is Managing Director, Cargo Logistics for United Airlines. His responsibilities include oversight of United Cargo's costs, capital expenditures, and claims as well as management of United's ULD assets, road feeder service, and policy, procedure and safety. Albrecht joined United Airlines in 1984 and has held a number of management positions in Vendor Planning, Aircraft Scheduling, Onboard Schedule Planning, and the Credit Union. Prior to his current position, Albrecht was United's Director of Cargo Operations Excellence.

FT:   We are fascinated by success in areas where others see no space for satisfaction. Traditionally your area of business has been controversial in many airlines’ business and some of them have decided, or are tempted to outsource these altogether. This notwithstanding United seem to consider this area as integral with its cargo operations and their figures are on your side. Can you name three essential factors that are significant in your success story?
MA:  Relentless Focus on Continuous Improvement: One of the key factors contributing to our success is our unwavering commitment to continuous improvement. We continuously strive to enhance our processes, optimize efficiencies, and innovate in order to stay ahead of the curve and meet evolving customer demands.
     Understanding the Delicate Balance of Cost and Quality: We recognize the importance of striking the right balance between cost and quality in our operations. By understanding the intricacies of this delicate balance, we are able to deliver value to our customers while maintaining competitive pricing and ensuring the highest standards of service and reliability.
     Team Culture of Thinking Like Entrepreneurs: Our success is also attributed to the entrepreneurial mindset ingrained within our team culture. Every member of our team is empowered to think creatively, take ownership of their work, and proactively seek out opportunities for growth and innovation. This entrepreneurial spirit fosters a dynamic and agile work environment, enabling us to adapt quickly to changing market conditions and drive sustainable business success.

Jan KremsAt this point we would like to conclude this wide picture of the UNITED team with its undisputed leader, Jan Krems, who was happy to take our questions:
FT:   So United is one of the 4 large U.S American airlines. Do you see this as an opportunity for U.S. aviation or a challenge because none of them are dominant in the position?
JK:   I see being one of the four major U.S. airlines as a significant opportunity rather than a challenge. The aviation landscape in the U.S. is highly competitive, with a few airlines nearly as large as us. This dynamic keeps us on our toes, driving continuous improvement and innovation in our services. Rather than striving to be the dominant force, we focus on delivering the best possible experience for our customers. It's essential to avoid complacency and remain dedicated to enhancing our operations every day.
     In terms of cargo, United Cargo stands out as the leader. While other domestic carriers are formidable competitors in the passenger market, when it comes to cargo, there's no question that we are the best. We are committed to maintaining this position by staying ahead in terms of innovation and sustainability, ensuring that we continue to provide exceptional service to our customers.
FT:   Which area of business in United do you expect to experience the largest area of growth in the next couple of years?
JK:   In the next couple of years, we anticipate the largest area of growth for United Cargo to be in ecommerce and specialty products. Ecommerce is rapidly expanding, and we are capitalizing on this by investing in initiatives such as APIs, Direct Connect, entering marketplaces, and enhancing our online booking capabilities. Additionally, our focus on specialty products is important. Ensuring top-notch quality is crucial in this area, as it directly correlates with our ability to provide added value to our customers. By prioritizing specialty and ecommerce segments, we are positioning ourselves to seize the most significant growth opportunities and deliver exceptional service to meet the evolving needs of our clients.
FT:   What are your key takeaways from the Worldwide Sales and Cargo Conference?
JK:   From the Worldwide Sales and Cargo Conference, my main takeaways boil down to the importance of face-to-face time. There's just something special about being in the same room, celebrating successes together, and sharing our game plan for the year ahead. Plus, it's not just about talking business – mixing it up with folks from different units, like passenger and cargo, adds a whole new dimension.      We get to swap stories, learn from each other, and have some fun. So those are the big takeaways for me: face time, teamwork, sharing ideas, and of course, having a blast while we're at it.

     These words conclude our special number on Team United, Chicago and CNS. If it is true that every picture tells a story, one can also say that every story gives a picture. This one is the image showing this perfectly organized team, intent on finding the best solutions for its company, first and foremost the best for its customers and society at large. It is a meaningful impression, coming from the windy city.
     As we all have perfectly understood in many years, far from being an attitude prone to boasting, the atmosphere of Chicago surrounds solid, meaningful accomplishments that last for many years.
GDA/Marco Sorgetti

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