Technology is the main area of the business that HAE will continue to make investments in and is the central focus.
HAE UK & Ireland director, John Ward says staff are already working on using its self-developed web portal, which will be expanded to integrate with airline partners to give customers as many options as possible.
“We are also investing in warehouses, as the airports get more congested….there is a role for fulfilment that facilitates more trade with us and our partners,” Ward adds.
He says in 2017 the UK has been a mixed bag. “There has been some significant volume of bids to respond to as carriers either review their representation by testing the market or have made changes to their selling strategy,” he explains.
In the UK, HAE sells cargo under its GSSA brand Air Liaison for Air Canada, United Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo (pictured above) and DHL Aviation.
Ward says it eyeing other contracts and is in the final stages of a couple of new appointments that fit its strategy of non-competing products and networks where possible.
He says the strongest lane to and from the UK are intra-Europe, which always is strong, transatlantic US/Canada and he also notes Latin America volumes are buoyant along with many parts of Africa.
Verticals performing well are pharmaceuticals and it is also seeing many SME forwarders with key ad-hoc lanes looking for capacity. E-commerce continues to be the “new integrator” he says.
The weakening of the pound has helped UK exports. Ward says it has noticed the pound’s previous weakness drove demand, but yields were weak.
He adds the slight rebound has meant UK rates have improved against European Union rates, allowing it to gain capacity back on a number of routes like to Asia.
As for Brexit? “There is no doubt there will be an initial impact, but what we are experiencing in some sectors is inertia as everyone watches what will happen and fewer CAPEX decisions are taken, this means there is pent-up demand which shows no sign of being released,” Ward believes.
He feels the destination mix may change after Brexit, which may help air cargo with more long-haul destinations served as revitalised trade agreements come in to play.
Ward adds HAE thinks revised air services agreements may bring new opportunities to the table, but network carriers will maintain their O/D business to and from the UK.
As for the future he sees closer integration between online and partners and the consumer being offered more time-definite product solutions from carriers.
“GSSAs will need to expand their portfolios to offer customers a full range of products. I also see them taking capacity themselves more and more to commit themselves to their carriers,” Ward concludes.