Asset manager Unilode is well known for providing cargo carriers with containers, pallets and alike equipment for transporting their loads safely and timely as required. A service often rendered by an external ULD manager based on contracts running several years. This offering is complemented by leasing options as shown in the case of Zurich, Switzerland-based specialist Unilode. Responsible there is Mario Holzer whom we asked to illustrate this specific business. His answers will be displayed in two separate parts. Here comes part one.
CFG: Mr Holzer, what triggered your company to offer the market short-term ULD leasing options?
MH: Unilode has always supported its ULD Management customers with their short-term leasing needs and has also worked with 3rd party leasing providers. Since 2018, we have started to build a dedicated asset base for short-term leasing in order to offer this service fully in-house.
Short-term leasing is a logical adjacency to our core service offering which is ULD Management. Almost every airline has a need, at times, to rent ULDs for a short term in order to cover seasonal peaks or other special market situations. We wanted to expand our service offering to become a true end-to-end ULD solution provider, from the very short term to the very long term.
How has demand developed? Any figures?
It is no secret that the air cargo market has been under some pressure lately, and this is reflected in the figures published by IATA. However, this does not mean that there is no demand. On the contrary, such a market situation can also result in strategic decisions to remain flexible, which is clearly beneficial for short-term leasing. We have seen steady demand over the last months, with a significant increase over the last weeks.
Is the Short-Term Leasing unit a separate business division within Unilode or is it fully integrated?
We manage Short-Term Leasing as a separate business unit in order to ensure fully dedicated customer and operational focus. The business has its dedicated asset base with a separate IATA suffix (C6), in order to facilitate stock management, traceability and end-of-lease extraction. At the same time, we are leveraging our existing infrastructure, market access, and wealth of industry experience, as well as our human resources to support our growth.
What is the normal duration of (short-term) leasing contracts according to your data?
This depends on the reason for a lease. A charter carrier will usually need the ULDs to cover a specific lane and wants to return the units at a different location than the origin. A lease on this basis can be only a few days. Other leases can last several weeks or even months, for instance if we support a carrier during the cargo peak. It is at the discretion of the customer when to return the units back to us. In some situations, customers also ask to lease specific equipment for half a year or more to avoid Capex.
And what do you consider as being a SHORT TERM when it comes to renting ULDs?
Everything from a few days up to 12 months. We deliberately named the service Short-Term Leasing to clearly distinguish it from our ULD Management offering.
Interview: Heiner Siegmund
To follow: Part 2
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