Ready to reconquer the skies
The name Air France KLM Martinair no longer appears in lists of the world’s largest freighter operators (see page 12 of the Aviation Special supplement of ITJ 41-42/2018). Now the Franco-Dutch group, having completed its digitalisation offensive, wants to regain market shares. Marcel de Nooijer has set the firm’s strategic direction for two years now. He spoke to ITJ editor Andreas Haug in Paris recently.
Mr de Nooijer, which of your experiences has equipped you best to tackle your charge at Air France KLM Martinair Cargo?
I know the firm very well, having started to work for KLM in 1995. After various jobs in many different places I joined the freight division in 2003. In 2013 I took charge of Martinair Cargo, a year later KLM Cargo was added to that, and since January 2017 I’ve been in charge of the entire group’s cargo activities.
The last few years have been charac- terised by massive upheaval for your airline. What does your hardware consist of today?
We’ve reduced the size of our full-freighter fleet from 15 units in 2014 to six today, including two Boeing B777Fs operating from Paris with Air France Cargo livery, and four KLM Cargo B747-400Fs operating from Amsterdam, where our six B747-400Combis are also stationed. Four years ago our airfreight activities were making a loss of almost EUR 72 million. In the meantime we’ve managed to turn the division around, however. In the third quarter of 2018 our load factor was 1.1 percentage points higher than in the same quarter last year, with our yields simultaneously rising by 6.1%.
We’re back in the black and have been able to contribute ever more to the entire group’s success over the past two years.
What unique characteristics does your new digital approach include?
First of all, it’s just a fantastic feeling to have achieved the turnaround. We’ve been working really hard of late, which makes us all the more motivated to make the best of new investment worth many millions – and for new innovations. As far as I know, our ‘MyCargo’ solution is the first API worldwide designated for commercial deployment in the entire airfreight business.
Is your dual-hub strategy an advantage or disadvantage for such a large project?
Definitely an advantage. When we started replacing the historic IT systems in the two hubs we ascertained that the number of combined transport solutions virtually doubled.
How did collaboration go with the two airport operators concerned?
Partnerships are absolutely essential, when changes are made to a system. We’re highly integrated into the freight community in Amsterdam, for example, and worked on the KPIs with the flower wholesale market.
Which markets do you focus on?
We pleased to handle a healthy 50:50 mix of general cargo and special consignments, such as live animals. We’ve registered the strongest growth in the fresh goods sectors, including flowers; pharmaceutical products and e-commerce options.
How good would you say your prospects are for 2019?
We did very well in 2017 and 2018, and I remain optimistic that we’ll be able to continue on our chosen path to the future. Naturally there will always be many imponderables. Should trade with the United Kingdom collapse completely, for example, then I’m sure we’d be able to recoup the loss of this 4–5% of our volumes elsewhere.
Digital days in Paris and Amsterdam
The ‘MyCargo’ modules accompany clients along the entire supply chain, from bookings through to after-sales services. All the digital know-how does not mean the loss of the human touch, though – “which is really appreciated,“ according to Christophe Boucher, senior vice-president for sales and distribution.