Two decades ago, a General Sales & Service Agent’s (GSSA) primary focus was solely on the sales of airline services. However, in contemporary times, the role of a GSSA has seen remarkable transformation, driven by shifting customer demands, technological advancements, and global disruptions.
“The utilisation of digital marketplaces is becoming increasingly common, although they are generally viewed as complementary to the traditional sales channels. GSSA’s continue to play a crucial role in providing customer service and post-sales support,” ATC Aviation CEO Ingo Zimmer said.
To meet the changing market dynamics, ATC Aviation was open about how players in the space are actively exploring and identifying new markets, drawing insights from various data sources such as IATA, CASS, and Seabury.
“Leveraging this data, we are equipped to offer guidance to our airline clients regarding market trends and fluctuations, allowing us to adapt and respond effectively,” Zimmer added.
Like others in the industry, ATC Aviation faced many difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a shift in the approach they took to their operations.
“The pandemic forced us to adopt digitisation at a never-before-seen pace,” Zimmer explained. “As a result, we established a flexible strategy allowing team members to work remotely and have reduced office space in our 54 offices around the world as far as possible. This transition’s first stage was challenging, but we made it through it with the help of our team’s combined efforts.”
This approach has delivered significant gains from their efforts amid the embrace of technological innovation. With the ability to work without interruption from anywhere in the world, ATC Aviation is ready to assist all its customers in selling passengers to freighter charters, as seen in their support of immunisation campaigns all over the world.
North American network
Operating in 11 major cities and all six major US export gateways, ATC Aviation has seen how the market throughout the Americas has evolved amid changing customer demands.
In general, air export volumes have grown steadily during the years ATC Aviation has been active in the US. Unsurprisingly so has air capacity, particularly on the transatlantic lanes.
“The US is seen as the world’s biggest air cargo market, but it’s mainly an import driven market,” Timothy Pfeil, ATC Aviation President and Managing Director, highlighted. “ATC has expanded our menu of services to our airline partners to take advantage of the opportunities to service imports and this has enabled us to expand into lines of service not commonly associated with GSSAs.”
New market model
The success of GSSA’s models relies on numerous elements which have recently been growing in the market. The cornerstones include data use, technology integration, and a customer-centric strategy. GSSAs must also adopt flexible strategies, expand their reach, and prioritise sustainability.
Being able to handle unexpected obstacles, adherence to regulatory requirements, nurturing talents, and effectively managing risks are all essential ingredients for success in this ever-changing industry.
“Our extremely adaptable approach enables us to customise our services to meet any needs our partners may have,” Zimmer outlined. “Whether we are deploying a more conventional sales and booking solution or outsourcing our partner’s end-to- end cargo services, our core strengths in market research, business intelligence, and airline advice are essential to the success of our partner and set us apart from other GSSAs.”
At ATC, all airline partner’s specific requirements are taken into account when developing strategy, planning, and daily objectives. By handling the complete cargo sales and servicing process, it aims to ensure clients can concentrate on their core businesses thanks to our cargo management philosophy.
“We have the power, network, and financial backing as a worldwide organisation to respond to the industry’s continuous issues,” Zimmer continued.
Globally, 2023 has been a very difficult year in terms of demand as well as yields.
During the course of the last quarter tonnages are going slightly up but ATC Aviation does not expect an end of the year peak. Inventories are still well stocked, consumer demand is still low because of the inflation, some important economies are facing a negative Gross Domestic Product and the Purchasing Managers’ Index is below 50 points.
“We are expecting an increase in demand as from the second quarter 2024. Yields should have reached the bottom and are expected to go slightly up,” Zimmer said.
In order to strengthen its position, ATC Aviation is positioned to offer various digital services to clients, including online booking and tracking, digital documentation, data analytics and integration with other systems, etc.
“These digital services help our partners/customers to streamline their cargo operations, reduce costs, and finally improve customer satisfaction, while also improving the accuracy and reliability of our operations,” Zimmer said.
“ATC in the US has a best-in-class business intelligence offering. Whether it is market data or financial analysis or back office data services, we focus on using systems to not only steer our daily sales and customer engagement activities, but also support our partners with accurate forecasting and focus on delivering meaningful key performance indicators that enable them to benchmark performance in all areas of the business,” Pfeil added.