Linked more to time than place
Finnair Cargo’s ‘Cool Nordic Cargo Hub’ is one of the most modern airfreight terminals worldwide. It was inaugurated in 2017 (see page 13 of ITJ 1-4 / 2018) – one of the years with the fastest growth in the firm’s history. Fredrik Wildtgrube described the extent to which the airline is rooted in time and space to ITJ editor Andreas Haug recently – whilst he was in the middle of arranging for his move to Shanghai.
Mr Wildtgrube, before you joined Finnair Cargo you were with Nokia and Microsoft. What insights with these shippers help you in your airline management tasks?
I quickly understood that the supply chain is led by a different focus than on cost. Decisions must be weighed from a 360º view to determine the risk, which includes clients’ experiences. The supply chain is the backbone of a firm; if it is not given proper leadership attention some true opportunities might be missed. I also understood the essence of a fast supply chain and the benefits speed brings from a financial perspective, especially in the high-tech segment.
Have supply chains changed over the years?
The growing e-commerce segment really changed the game. It’s so fascinating that 11 November 2018 (singles’ day) became the largest online shopping day – but products largely remained the same. The biggest change was in the build-up and execution of the supply chain. E-commerce has shown that firms that reinvent delivery convenience for clients are on the right track and can stand apart from their competitors. The e-commerce sector has also recognised the benefit of speed for consumers. Can you imagine e-commerce growing as fast as this if delivery options had not developed to this degree of convenience?
Is Finnair Cargo on this track?
I came on board when the airline began a successful transformation process. We’ve done our homework, listening to our customers, which contributed to growth even in these times. Our clients appreciate it if the industry pays more attention to sustainability. We’ve come a long way and there is no turning back.
What does this mean for you?
At Finnair Cargo we believe work isn’t tied to a place, it’s connected to on-time deliveries. So we’re distributing our team throughout our network, rather than mainly in Finland. I’m relocating to Asia as Finnair Cargo has decided that the global head of sales will be based in Shanghai from now on.
China and Asia account for 75% of your business. How have your activities developed since you opened your new hub?
The past two years have been the most successful in Finnair Cargo’s 95-year history. Despite a complete transformation of business we’ve been able to capitalise on our growth. In 2017 and 2018 cargo contributed significantly, with our revenues growing by 13.5% year-on-year in 2017 and by 7.6% last year. In 2018 we celebrated the milestone of 15 years of direct flights to Shanghai. The metropolis is one of the top three destinations in our network; it accounts for 10% of cargo revenues. Since we added the Airbus wide-body A350-900 to the Helsinki – Shanghai route in 2015, fuel consumption has dropped by 24%, whilst cargo capacities have increased by 20%, and revenues have jumped by 30%.
What do Finnair Cargo and its Helsinki hub do better than other service providers?
We operate one of the most modern air cargo terminals in the world, and it’s now really beginning to hum. We’ve always been totally transparent about the whole development process for the facility from the outset, and will continue to invest heavily in its technological improvement and further advancement.
Our same-day connectivity to and from Asia is hard to beat. Helsinki airport comes second in Europe – after Paris CDG – in terms of connections to Japan. The routes represent lucrative shortcuts for booming Norwegian seafood exports to Asia. We’re pioneers in another cool-chain segment too; Finnair Cargo was the world’s first airline to receive Iata’s prestigious CEIV Pharma certificate.
What are your expectations for 2019?
Our figures have continued to go from strength to strength; it shows the great customer confidence in our services. The ‘Cool Nordic Cargo Hub’ is expected to mature further in 2019, and we hope to be able to optimise its capacity even more. The air cargo market is never easy, no matter if it’s growing or shrinking.
Looking ahead at the future status of global air cargo: trade wars and the unclear impact of Brexit make for an interesting cocktail for the industry. We’ll counter these uncertainties by deploying our resources more efficiently in our network.
What are you planning in detail?
In October we added a widebody passenger link to our daily flights to and from Brussels, enabling the quicker run-through of goods in Helsinki. In December, we received our twelfth Airbus A350. By 2022 our widebody fleet will grow from 19 to 27 units.