The Italian forwarding agent specializes in shipping parts for the aerospace industry across the globe. What started 18 years ago from scratch accounts meanwhile for almost 70 percent of the firm’s total biz. It remains being a niche market, but a reasonably profitable one compared to general cargo.
For Roberto Colucci it was anything other than surprising that his cell phone rang when he disembarked from the plane at Hong Kong Airport. The founder and Managing Director of Rome-based agent
World Cargo S.r.l. was notified by his partner of an AOG situation for an Alitalia 777 passenger aircraft in Miami. “Basically what happened is that they called our 24/7 desk on May 1, labor day,
at around 9:30 a.m. advising of the situation and telling us ‘get ready’,” recalls the manager.
Next, the World Cargo team had to study all operational solutions to make the transit from Alitalia’s Rome warehouse to Miami as quick and safe as possible.
At the end the solution was a part-charter from Luxembourg to Miami. “On May 2, around 7 p.m. the spare engine and necessary tooling was ready and was picked up directly from AZ’s airside warehouse inside Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. “With our own trucks since we have access to the airside of Fiumicino,” he recalls. Finally, the shipment was ready for carriage on 3 May early morning and a two man driver team left straight to Luxembourg with one of the air-ride suspension trucks operated by the agent. It was flown from LUX May 4, as part charter on board a Cargolux freighter en route to Miami.
All of AZ’s airplanes are leased. “If we hadn’t delivered the piece the fastest possible way it would have cost our client Alitalia thousands of euros an hour.” So only when airplanes fly, are
they able to earn money.
Enormous daily pressure
This is just a snapshot of World Cargo’s daily activities and just a particular and somehow spectacular case because of the dimension of the shipments the agent had to handle. After all it was a big aircraft engine, including components. In most cases Colucci’s company deals with smaller items like coffee makers for passenger aircraft or fire extinguishers or even stickers any aircraft has to be equipped with, instruments, wheels - you name it. Otherwise an aircraft might be grounded by the authorities until the missing items have arrived and are installed. This is the agent’s daily business and Roberto together with his team seems to be used to this constant stress, since it has become normal work for them.
Such as this case for instance - flying 30 kilograms of ice cream product from Heathrow to Bangkok at a required temperature of minus 20 degrees centigrade. There was a presentation of a worldwide renowned ice cream company for a major product presentation in Bangkok. Their problem was that they had a mechanical failure and were not able to provide the sample in time for their presentation. That’s when World Cargo jumped in as last-minute rescuer to arrange the entire door-door chain within 36 hours. “We made it although we were quite worried about the 45 degrees Celsius in Bangkok,” he recalls.
But luckily the product was delivered in time and intact, according to customers demand. It arrived May 3, at noon in BKK and the presentation began at 3 p.m. “This is what I call time definite delivery,” says Roberto. “Since I was on a business trip for attending the annual meeting of the Global Freight Forwarder’s Group in Hong Kong the merits go to my partner Natalino Rocchi and our entire team,” Roberto emphasizes.
Wide range of products that demand immediate uplift
Other products besides transporting aircraft parts or ice cream machines are pharmaceuticals, radioactive materials, lab rats and also sometimes human remains. “Our biz philosophy is to have a client for the long term and become his strategic and preferred partner. At the end we consider this to be the smarter solution that pays off for both sides.”
New York-born Roberto started as an employee at several freight forwarding companies in Rome in 1984. Seven years later in 1991, he finally set up World Cargo together with his partner Natalino.
Currently, the agent is worried about the future fate of Alitalia, the principle domestic Italia carrier. “AZ is one of our main clients and we all hope things will work out for the better.” “But unfortunately all we can do is wait.”