No complaints from AFKLMP

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After a strong year in 2018, things are slowing down a bit in 2019 due to global issues, but there is nothing to complain about at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP).

In separate interviews with Gertjan Roelands, vice president of Europe and Ivo Frankort, director of Benelux, both were happy with the way business has been progressing.

Roelands described 2018 as a “very strong year” with financial growth among all commodities while Frankort added it was a year of “stabilisation”, with tonnage more or less equal. He says: “I can’t complain”.

There are issues ahead such as ongoing Brexit uncertainty, US-China trade tensions and the general slowdown of the global economy but it is not all doom and gloom.

Roelands explains: “That is impacting demand but we see that it is quite regional. We still see that the trans-Atlantic demand is very strong still though we see more of a slowdown in Asia because of market developments.”

Brexit is an issue that is continuing to rumble on. The UK market is very important for AFKLMP with significant import flows. Roelands says AFKLMP is focusing on the operational and customs processes in case it is a worst case scenario of hard Brexit by working with suppliers and government bodies.

He comments: “There is still a lot of uncertainty about what will happen, that’s why we work to worst case scenario.”

Closer to home, perishables such as fruit and vegetables have been doing very well, along with flowers and fish. Pharmaceuticals have been a particularly strong area, especially as AFKLMP has been re-certified to IATA CEIV Pharma standards for all airline and airport operations both in Amsterdam and Paris this year.

Frankort says: “Within the company, pharma is high on our list of strengths. We have to fulfil our requirements by living it day by day. It is a major export for Belgium, you need to be good. We are very happy with it.”

AFKLMP has been upgrading services with cool dollies, reducing tarmac time and thermal blankets among other upgrades.

There were never any worries about not being recertified, with Roelands saying: “It’s not like we started carrying pharma last year, we did it from the start. It is in our DNA of our people and our processes but we need to keep on training, keep on creating awareness because industry standards and expectations are increasing.”

Both are confident of the outlook for AFKLMP, helped by the strength of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Europe’s third largest cargo airport.

Roelands says: “Having your home base in the third biggest airport is an asset. Schiphol is a key gateway for customers, that also helps as you can also optimise lead times, connectivity, create quality and efficiency.”

Frankort agrees, saying: “Schiphol has multiple flights, it attracts cargo. The infrastructure is good and so are the connections. For us, it is a hub for belly cargo, freighter and combi flights.”