General sales agent Kales Airline Services has a broad network of offices. An empty area used to be the USA – up until the 15th of April this year. Kales’ first U.S. station, near to JFK Airport (New York), was established on that day in spring. Starting from scratch proved to be a tough challenge for Managing Director Nouri Tiedke. Now he even considers expanding Kales’ reach.
Permissions by the local authorities, obtaining a social security number as prerequisite to open a bank account, signing a rental contract for office space – “I really had a hard time the first
couple of weeks after I had come over from Europe to the USA to get all these formalities straightened out in order to start Kales’ GSA business,” he recalls. Half a year later things have become
quieter. “We rented an office in the vicinity of JFK, I hired five local staff that are full of energy and excited to put Kales on the map, we built our own customer database and we got very
interesting mandate airlines we run the air freight business for,” Nouri proceeds.
His core clients, which account for much of his business, are Brussels Airlines Cargo and Norwegian Airlines. Brussels Airlines operates daily flights between Brussels and New York, utilizing A330 equipment. “The aircraft is capable of uplifting between 12 to 15 tons of freight each flight,” Nouri says, “depending on the passenger luggage situation.”
Forwarders are increasingly knocking at Kales’ doors
What makes Brussels Airlines Cargo particularly interesting for the U.S. office of GSA Kales is their diversified African network, serving Kinshasa, Lomé, Dakar and roughly a dozen more destinations, particularly in West Africa. “By partnering with the Belgian carrier we can offer our U.S. clients many Sub-Saharan destinations. The shipments arriving in Brussels on board the carrier’s New York flight are transited there and flown directly to their final destinations in Africa without delay. “Our client Brussels Airlines enables us to offer the market very fast and reliable transport into Africa. We are already seeing a distinct increase of local U.S. forwarders utilizing this service,” the manager states.
Florida is next, followed by Washington
Another big catch in Nouri’s net is LCC carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle. On transatlantic routes between Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and London Gatwick they are operating Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliners’, able to carry up to 15 tons on each flight. “This budget airline is growing very fast which gives us a lot of business opportunities which we really appreciate,” he notes.
Kales also sells lower deck capacity of an A330 operated (three times weekly) by leisure carrier Thomas Cook between Manchester and New York. Since Thomas Cook serves Miami and Orlando as well, Nouri is determined to open a second U.S. Kales office in Florida. “From Miami we will stretch out to capture the Latin American market, too,” he announces immediate plans to be implemented during the month of October. Next candidate on the list is a station in Washington that is slated to go online in the spring of 2016.
Cross-border trucking services
Looking north, Kales USA services Canadian carrier KF Cargo, a subsidiary of KF Aerospace (based in British Columbia) that deploys a DC-10 freighter on the route Toronto-Brussels. Kales (USA) cooperates closely with the GSA’s Toronto office to fill the main deck of this offline client. “We truck shipments bound for Europe from New York and Washington to Pearson Airport in close coordination with our local Canadian colleagues,” the manager illustrates.
Tough biz situation
In general, he speaks of a “difficult business situation with extremely low margins” caused by the strong dollar that torpedoes U.S. exports and the ongoing overcapacity offered by airlines. Earnings and volumes are negatively impacted as a result.
To ease the pressure and up yields, New York’s Kales office intensifies the dialogue with key consignees and forwarding agents. They also concentrate on special transports like pets and animals in general, which requires considerable expertise. “This is why we offer our employees training courses to learn the specifics of these special services,” he states.
The workforce is Kales’ only asset
Meanwhile, the team building process has progressed considerably. “We got to know each other first but being part of a new project is extremely tempting for each of us motivating my colleagues and me every single day anew.”
Wrapping up his U.S. experience after being there since April he admits that he didn’t expect the business environment to be that challenging with bureaucratic hurdles similar to those in most parts of Europe.
“Coming from Europe it was a tough lesson I had to learn but meanwhile I know that my team and I are on a good track. This is clearly shown by the fast growing numbers of phone calls or email enquiries from forwarding agents, interested in doing biz with us.”
Heiner Siegmund / Michael Taweel