Agents: Top priority for Air India cargo
The national carrier’s cargo division understands the importance of agents and has been taking steps to ensure that conducting business with Air India is easy for them.
Abhay Pathak, Executive Director (Commercial) Cargo Division, Air India, who was presiding over Air India’s cargo division recently organised event for its top agents – both domestic and international – in Mumbai, said to the agents, “Your support is very precious to us. We have brought about a paradigm shift at Air India. When I took over cargo it was run in a very traditional way. That is when I started introducing new ideas into the system and even my team was not very comfortable with them at first.” NEW TEL AVIV FLIGHT Air India has been increasing its number of sectors to European countries. The last one it added was Copenhagen and Stockholm. “We are now going to start Tel Aviv which will start from third week of March somewhere around the 20th as we now have received permission to fly over Saudi Arabia airspace. It will be operated on our 787. Tel Aviv is one of the best sectors for us and it will link our country with one of the strongest countries in the world. Both sides have great potential as far as cargo is concerned,” Pathak added. FREE DELIVERY FROM WASHINGTON Most of the American sectors for Air India cargo are doing extremely well. In fact, Pathak said, Air India has introduced an innovative concept for the agents. “We have designed a new concept where whenever JFK is overflowing, we can shift the cargo on the IAT that is Washington. From there, we can take by road to JFK. Not only that, we will also do delivery at the shipper’s warehouse. That’s another advantage with Air India. The product is reaching their doorstep. We have started a new era and as a result, even the European sectors have a backlog. We are also selling at a very high price because that’s the way the market is turning around now,” Pathak reveals. GREAT CONNECTIONS Air India has great connections in Europe – Rome, Milan, Australia, Sydney, Melbourne, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Madrid, five flights to London, Paris and Frankfurt. Add to this, five destinations in the USA, and it gives an advantage to any shipper. As a result, Air India’s international cargo is doing better than its domestic. Speaking about this, Pathak adds, “Growth for the domestic cargo in terms of tonnage is much higher. But the competition among the airlines in the domestic market is chopping each other. The revenue is not in synch with the volume. So the yield is not too high vis-à-vis the tonnage it has grown. It is the other way round in the international market. Tonnage has not gone up too much but the revenue has gone up manifold. We are scoring almost 70 per cent growth in terms of revenue.”
Air India is is looking for a freighter but the decision rests on the government. “We are also working out on how we can go for a GSA for the domestic and the international markets. If that happens, it will be a great advantage for us. We now have the new 777s. With that we will be able to now go for more flights specially long-haul which can carry additional cargo load from here,” Pathak revealed. AGENTS FIRST Speaking about how Air India has upped its focus on its agents, he said that the airline has been receiving a lot of inputs from its agents which has led to it introducing a lot of changes in the system. “In the last one and half years, I have brought in a lot of changes to make doing business easy. It needs to be smooth, and you have to ensure that not only the product side but also the pricing and policies should be such that it helps and welcomes the agents. At the end of the day, it is the profit that is important. We have to sort out our problems and showcase our products to them in a better way. In one and a half or two years we have really done that in such an effective manner that they have started believing that if you ship with Air India their cargo will reach its destination within seven to eight hours,” Pathak adds.
Abhay Pathak Executive Director (Commercial) Cargo Division Air India The airline has been receiving inputs from its agents which has led to it introducing a lot of change