Michael Cox, president of Avia Cargo spoke to ACW about embracing change and driving the GSA forward.
ACW: How has the pandemic affected operations at Avia Cargo?
Michael Cox: For us it quite simply meant we had to seek out new solutions to meet our customers’ needs. In fact we were well prepared for the pandemic having taken the very big step of becoming a paperless working environment some five years ago. So whether the team was working from home or working in the office they were working on a mirrored systems with no paper-based work.
We fully embraced the cloud at that time as we could see it was the way forward and we have strong back-up systems already built in. So for our customer, it was pretty much seamless and for our teams in the US and Europe it has been business as usual.
Also, in the real world, the days of the office phone are long gone; mobile phones changed the way we work years ago. Our number can be picked up anywhere by any team member and that includes for bookings. The nature of the destinations we serve and the airlines concerned mean that online bookings are not always possible. But we are really fortunate that our team’s specialist knowledge of these challenging destinations means we can offer our customers a really bespoke service to get their freight where it needs to be and again, that’s pretty much the same before, during and after the pandemic.
ACW: Going forward, how will operations at Avia develop?
Cox: We have exciting plans for 2021. The change in Government/leadership in the US will likely see the USAID program expand and as a direct result of the destinations we can serve from the US we will see increased business to sub Saharan Africa. We will be offering some 47 destinations across that region this year and this will change according to seasonality.
For example, the JFK-NBO service on Kenya Airways will go from 1 x weekly to 2 x weekly and will operate at 3 x weekly in the peak season and enable us to offer a direct link and onward services.
Our service from Bournemouth in the UK to New York, JFK on European Cargo has been well received by customers seeking a reliable link from outside the capital to the USA. With 45 tonnes of lower deck capacity on the A340-600F it has been an attractive proposition for customers with e-Commerce and perishables alongside general cargo. And of course we are also selling the return sector from the USA to the UK. The schedule is currently three round trips a week.
And the longer Turnkey is the modus operandi, rather than managing huge amounts of stock in vast warehouse, the greater the demand for this kind of service. The customer sees it, wants it, needs it.
ACW: What are you opinions and predictions on industry recovery in the USA?
Cox: It’s very hard to say how the industry as a whole will fare. The niche markets in which we operate make us very much a specialist in our field. We take the view that our personalised service combined with the ability to serve the destinations that customers want to reach is the key.
So for the part of industry we work across I think we can predict a steady recovery.
We continue to stay under most peoples’ radar, which we rather like. We don’t hide behind emails on automated systems, we engage with our customers, we quietly get on with the job and we do it well. We’re 20 years old this March so I like to think we’re doing it right.