Together, we can achieve much more than going it alone. That is the credo and professional experience of GertJan Roelands, Senior Vice President Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo (AFKLMP), voiced in a meeting with CargoForwarder Global. The interview was conducted during the TIACA conference in Miami, last month. Part 1, GertJan Roelands prefers green, appeared on 27NOV22.
The Franco-Dutch cargo carrier has a long history of partnerships. It began with the founding of the SkyTeam Alliance in 2000 and led to several joint ventures: for example, with Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic and their respective cargo divisions on routes across the North Atlantic. “As a Joint Venture, we aim to offer our customers a seamless product and a multitude of choices on transatlantic routes,” the executive illustrates. In addition, the partners are working on advanced distribution solutions in order to also offer more seamless solutions via online sales and servicing channels. In the end, “customers will benefit from the advantages of combined networks and products offered by the JV partners to the market in an easy-to-do way of conducting their business,” illustrates Mr. Roelands.
Until a few days ago, it seemed that Alitalia's successor, ITA, would become part of the aviation empire of AFKL and Delta. However, this solution is apparently off the table because of a volte-face by the new Italian government led by Ms. Meloni. Instead, after several unsuccessful attempts, ITA is likely to be taken over by Lufthansa and its freight subsidiary, Lufthansa Cargo, with railroad company, Ferrovie Dello State Italiane (FS) joining the bandwagon. As a result, AFKL is now likely to focus all the more on the Portuguese airline TAP. This is indirectly confirmed by Mr. Roelands, who says that TAP could be an option for AFKL.
In principle, an airline group can offer the market greater advantages than a single airline, Mr. Roeland states. These benefits consist of a dense global network, comparable transport and handling practices, a coordinated joint product strategy, or collective steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing large quantities of much sought-after sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Revising the product philosophy
Further to this, Mr. Roelands announces plans to redesign AFKLMP Cargo's product portfolio before mid-2023. Currently, the carrier is reviewing its product set-up, he confirms. “In the end, we would like to further sharpen our offer and promise to our customers, however in a much more simplified way.” One could think of three to four service levels with several product options completed by specific ancillary product features. This will give the customer more choice (a la carte), it will sharpen our promise, and it should be easier to execute in daily operations. Our myCargo platform is already fully engineered and equipped to provide an even more enhanced customer journey and choice when it comes to our product offer.
We develop and restructure our product portfolio in close cooperation with our JV partners in order to make sure that also from a product perspective we have a seamless offer.
In the meantime, we are investing in new state of the art customer service technology such as ‘customer 360’, and a new ‘case and call’ management system. In the end we would like to offer our customers best in class experiences. If a customer calls about Pharma questions, he or she should be helped as fast as possible by customer service staff who are fully specialized on this specific product. It should not matter where this customer service representative is located since ‘customer 360’ will give all relevant insights of the respective customer.
Also, we are investing in E-Acquisition by creating more and better offers for our customers by making use of data and specific (online) content. E-acquisition strategies are already used a lot in retail business and in the B2C service industry. We hired and are hiring external expertise in order to make this happen.
Not carved in stone
Asked about the looming slot reduction at Amsterdam Schiphol and the consequences for AFKLMP Cargo, the executive answers: “We were taken by surprise by the government's decision on fewer flight movements at Schiphol. Shrinkage cannot be a goal in itself. We are investigating what exactly the government wants to achieve and are discussing this.”
In August, the Dutch government had announced that, from NOV23, for environmental reasons, it would cut the number of annual aircraft movements in Amsterdam from the current 500,000 to 440,000. The Dutch state is the majority shareholder in Amsterdam airport operator, Schiphol Group.
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