ECS: adapt and overcome

Adrien Thominet

The last year has been full of ups and downs for the cargo industry but as ECS Group CEO Adrien Thominet points out there have been many lessons learnt.

When the global industry came to a nigh on halt in February 2020, there were some tough decisions to be made. Thominet recalls that as a global network, ECS were planning on how to adapt from the get-go.

“We thought: How can we reuse the resources internally to become experts in specific fields?” he said.

Early in the pandemic, ECS Group utilised the grounded fleet of leisure operators to charter flights transporting PPE and medical supplies, mostly from China.

“It has been different for ECS because we have been focusing on our Total Cargo Management (TCM) scheme in which we manage the total cargo capacities of carriers, especially leisure carriers,” Thominet explains.

“Then we used their fleet on a charter basis as a sort of in-house fleet.”

As the disruption spread across the globe, ECS Group were vigilant in responding to the changing needs of airlines.

“Our key partners are airlines and we are always wondering how we can help them,” he adds.

In addition to the GSSA offerings, ECS has started to take on the partial outsourcing of resources and enabled partners to create bespoke services, à la carte, to optimise revenue.
“The idea first was to create some niche outsourcing solutions, on very specific functionalities or duties, not just total outsourcing.

“For example completing the operation safety management of the airline, mail activity or data capture solutions to reduce admin work and so on.”

In regard to mail activity, ECS Group launched GSA Mail Solutions back in December. The structure is entirely dedicated to outsourcing airlines’ mail and e-commerce activities.
This was well received as e-commerce, spurred on by the pandemic, saw a surge during the last year.

Thominet thinks full digitalisation of the industry is still a long way off, as it is still only at the early stages. He very much believes in the development of the platforms, noting: “They need to grow offering different kinds of services; they cannot be only a platform for booking”.

As for the year ahead, Thominet predicts that industry recovery might be slow.

Cargo should remain a strong component of revenue for airlines, as revenue on the passenger side of operations is still low in comparison to before the crisis. Especially considering that many airlines will offer promotions to restart passenger activity.

“In 2021 we will continue to develop the model of segregating services and adapting the services to the airlines,” concludes Thominet. “We want to continue to make hybrid solutions.”