The Zurich-based freight carrier is climbing one peak after another. Last year turned out to be magnificent in terms of volumes, sales and on-time performance. However, this year will show even better results, predicts the airline’s Head of Cargo, Ashwin Bhat in this exclusive interview with CargoForwarder Global.
Happy Swiss WorldCargo! Measured by targets, the carrier’s volumes and profits recorded between 1 January and 31 August 2018 have surpassed the year-over-year results presented in 2017, confirms
Mr Bhat. He doesn’t deliver absolute figures because the freight unit’s business performance is reflected in the airline’s consolidated balance sheet.
2018 got off to a formidable start
Nevertheless, having surpassed last year’s results at this point in time is a remarkable achievement against the background of the exceptional cargo situation in 2017, when the global freight business went through the roof. “But one mustn’t forget that the great upswing of boxes and packages started only in September 2017, and gained speed thereafter extremely quickly. In contrast, this year has shown high demand right from the start,” he states.
Swiss WorldCargo has become an indispensable component of Switzerland’s economy, as data proves: On measured value: every third exported Swiss franc flies via air cargo, and every sixth imported Swiss franc is dependent on air freight. “Our customers understand the importance of the reliable cargo services we constantly offer them not only for their own business affairs but also for the economic well-being of the entire country,” states Bhat. Anyone not believing this should take a look at Swiss WorldCargo figures compiled by IATA interest group Cargo iQ that evidence a constant flown-as-booked performance reliability of more than 95 percent.
This is a knightly accolade since Cargo iQ is the globally acknowledged neutral tool to measure the transport quality of carriers. “These Cargo iQ monitored records help us to get a better understanding of our performance from the customer perspective, highlighting at the same time to what extent we have been able to fulfill the services expected from us,” adds Cargo Communications Executive Fabian Mettler.
Superior claims management is half of the pie
His chief Ashwin Bhat adds to this that the proficiency of any cargo carrier comes to light particularly in case irregularities happen. “Then the key issue is how to deal with them.” In the case of Swiss WorldCargo, customers know that any problem which has occurred is immediately taken care of, comforting them to a certain degree. “The positive feedback we have received from our clients in this respect adds to our reputation, putting us up front when it comes to service, reliability, and knowledge.” This all is the result of a team effort. So “don’t pat yourself on your own shoulder,” he keeps telling his staff, “but clap on the shoulders of your neighbors, sitting next to you, praising them for their contribution,” Mr Bhat’s motivational saying goes.
777s come, A340s go
In 2020, Swiss will up its long-haul fleet, adding two passenger Boeing 777-300ERs to its assets. The aircraft are scheduled to replace A340s that are handed over to the airline’s leisure sister carrier Edelweiss, whose cargo business is managed by Swiss WorldCargo as well.
Operating all-cargo aircraft, complementing belly-hold capacity on trunk routes, is not a topic for the carrier.
Beginning this fall, Edelweiss will enlarge its global network, adding Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Mahé in the Seychelles to its global route map. Whenever a potential new destination is put under the microscope, “the role cargo plays is one of the crucial factors for okaying or rather scrapping the project,” states Bhat.
Growing net of ‘quality corridors’
No big surprise that his word is particularly meaningful, since air freight contributes a small but significant percent in the double-digit range to the airline’s total sales generated on intercontinental routes. This is partially because Swiss WorldCargo concentrates on high-value shipments such as pharmaceuticals, valuables or time critical items.
In this respect, the carrier’s so called ‘quality corridors’ are a major asset, comprising of a network of certified trade lanes to ensure the highest quality standards and product integrity in
cold chain handling on a global scale. “We currently have 185 quality corridors, and 19 network destinations which are fully CEIV-certified,” confirms speaker Fabian Mettler.
Is there something cooking between Swiss WorldCargo, LH Cargo, United, ANA or Cathay Cargo?
Commenting on Swiss WorldCargo’s relations with Lufthansa Cargo, since both carriers belong to the Lufthansa Group, Mr Bhat simply states that “we are evaluating topics to collaborate more closely.”
Does this possibly include the option of becoming part of the route joint ventures with other carriers as hinted in the sub-header? Pacts that run well, as all parties involved confirm.
So why not stepping in, going from bi- to trilateral?
Faced with this question SWC’s helmsman states that this issue is “currently” not on his agenda.
But what about next year or thereafter? “Never say never,” he replies, which doesn’t sound like a strident denial.