Indian skills on par with the best in the global air cargo industry: H K Vithalani
H K Vithalani, chairman of Global Group, the airline representation company has been awarded the Rashtriya Udyog Ratan Award in Delhi, for his contribution to the aviation industry in India. The Global Group is into airline representation (cargo and passenger), transportation, travel and logistics for both Indian and international clients.
Speaking at length about his time in the industry to The STAT Trade Times, Vithalani observed that the Indian airfreight industry is leading the world in air cargo today through pharmaceuticals, machinery, garments, perishables or even spare parts. “My trade compatriots are one of the finest in the world air freight industry. Astute minds offering the best solutions to the customers with innovation at every step – should best describe the community. I am not saying that logistics leaders are only in India, but our Indian skills are on par with the best in the global industry. This is evident in world forums, be it Munich, Shanghai, the US or in Asia,” he said.
The air cargo industry has been evidently transforming and Vithalani highlighted the importance of automation and technology to make the operations fast. “Back in the 70s, when I started Global, most of the work was done on the telephone, typewriter, perhaps a dictaphone and being hands-on at the airport. Today with automation, things are done at the speed of light. The processes have become more refined and efficient. Connectivity around the world has come at our fingertips. Not forgetting communication that has achieved flash speed. There is automation from reservations, bookings management, pricing, the flow of information, cargo handling and loading onto the aircraft. Not just that, but once the cargo has reached the destination, the same automation takes over for last-mile delivery,” he explained.
It is not only technology but also the need for sustainable solutions and Vithalani predicts that in future, there will be less wastage in the paper, less harmful emissions, a safe environment for future generations, alternate fuel for aviation, simplified processes and lightning speed in transactions.
Global Aviation was the first Indian organisation to be accredited as a GSSA agent by IATA. The Global Group has been awarded the 'General Sales Agent of the Year - Region India’, an International Award for Excellence in Air Cargo by The STAT Trade Times five times in a row. The Global Group's clients comprise over 15 international airlines spread across South Asia, Europe, North America and Canada, with close to 18 plus cargo routes across these regions. Some of the notable airlines are Air Canada, Lufthansa Cargo, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Drukair, Qantas, Air Mauritius, TAP Air Portugal and many more.
Looking back to when he was introduced to this business 45 years ago, he said, “I never knew that it will give me so much satisfaction and guide me through life with a lesson being learnt almost every day. The air cargo industry played a major role then as a facilitator of the air export business. A cog in the wheel of perpetual motion. First I built relationships with my potential customers as well as my esteemed principals and suppliers. I hold these relationships very dearly with great respect, value, trust and fondness. Many of these have become lifelong friendships, which I am sure will pass from generations to generations.”
Spending 45 years in the industry, it is always interesting to learn about his style of doing business, achievements and regrets. Interestingly, Vithalani says making money through the business was secondary, but being at the forefront as a role model meant more. He said “Making money or doing business seemed secondary. Playing a role model, so important in the air freight business, itself was the reward. My major achievements were taking the whole business of an airline representation to such a peak that more and more entrepreneurs, young and old, threw their hats in the ring.”