Q&A: SkyTeam Cargo’s Nico van der Linden

SkyTeam Cargo rebranded its four core products at the end of March and said the new categories “reflect the services that each provides more accurately”.

Equation has been changed to Express, Dimension renamed to General, Variation has become Specialized and Cohesion now operates as Customized.

The rebranding will initially launch across eight members; Aeroflot Cargo, Aerolineas Argentinas Cargo, Aeroméxico Ca rgo, China Airlines Cargo, China Cargo, China Southern Cargo, Czech Airlines Cargo, and Korean Air Cargo.Air France KLM Cargo, Delta Cargo and Alitalia Cargo will implement the new product names in the second half of 2018.

SkyTeam Cargo’s vice president for cargo, Nico van der Linden (pictured below) spoke to CAAS about why the four products were rebranded and how he thinks it will boost business.

Do the changes reflect a new air cargo marketplace to what it was 18 years ago?

The cargo industry is fast moving and has changed a lot over the last few decades. This product refresh has been implemented to make things simpler for our customers. The four names better reflect each of the services that we offer across all 12 of our members, the aim is to provide a seamless service across the alliance’s large network. The four core pillar products are now perfectly aligned with the customer’s growing and ever-changing needs.

How has the industry changed from 18 years ago in your view?

The biggest change of course, is that the world has got a lot smaller thanks in a large part to the aviation industry and then the digital revolution.

The consumer has had a huge impact on the cargo industry today. We’ve seen rapid growth of both passenger and cargo business coupled with growing customer demands on product segmentation.

Perishable availability for instance is no longer dictated by a season; customers’ demand it year round so as cargo industry we make it possible. Enhanced networks have made it possible to have capacity 24-7 around the globe beyond the major hubs.

Why are airlines in the alliance coming online at different times?

As an alliance our focus is providing our members with the tools and products they require and to help facilitate cooperation across the members. There are often many internal and external factors to take into consideration when rolling out any new project. All members will be online by the end of the year.

Does SkyTeam Cargo think the refresh will boost cargo operations and business?

Absolutely, we have a very positive outlook for 2018. The market is healthy and SkyTeam Cargo has a dominant position in the industry.

How will the Express Route Finder help business for operators?

Currently there’s no other tool that functions in the way of the Express Route Finder, there are similar search functions in the passenger area but not for cargo. The Express Route Finder will save SkyTeam Cargo customers a lot of time, making things simpler and clearer for them.

They will be able to see all the different offerings for a route in one place; they won’t have to visit each member’s own website. This is phase one focused on our premium Express product, the next phase will be to roll out a similar functionality for general cargo.

How is SkyTeam Cargo finding the current air cargo marketplace?

The market is picking up and yield is improving, the continuous growth of cross-border ecommerce is having a very positive impact. We’ve also seen a growth in the perishable area. Again, this is due to customer demand for year round produce from flowers to strawberries.

What are the biggest industry challenges?

The industry needs to focus on creating a sustainable logistics chain, whereby one is not squeezing the others. It should be a system that works and benefits all, from all the providers through to the end consumer. This is crucial if we’re to create a professional first class service for our customers.

What are the investment priorities moving forward for SkyTeam Cargo?

We will continue to focus our investment on technology, finding solutions and increasing the ease of doing business for both our members and our customers.