Maximus eyeing further penetration into European, African markets
With a change of guard at Maximus Air, the air cargo specialist carrier is set to scale new heights. At the helm of affairs, the new CEO of the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, Mohammed Ebrahim Al Qassimi is responsible for expanding the airline's reach into new markets. In an exclusive interview with The STAT Trade Times, Al Qassimi reveals that the airline is looking to penetrate more into the markets of Europe and Africa. Talking about his strategy to build on to Maximus’ growth, Al Qassimi says, “The growth for Maximus this year has been on the rise. The percentage we are talking about is around 10-15 percent now; of course, that is subject to how the market plays its role here in the next 24-36 months. How do we plan to achieve it? We will have to do it with an extra workforce and penetrate more into the markets in Europe, Africa and so on,” he said. The former advisor to the top management of GE Aviation, who was responsible for the setup of the low cost airline Air Arabia, Al Qassimi is now looking to capitalise on the strong logistics industry in the UAE by setting up a freight forwarding business. In his view, there are also a lot of opportunities in store given the increasing demand for VIP air cargo. Speaking about the carrier’s fleet expansion plans in 2015, Al Qassimi said, “We are optimistic about expanding our fleet with our aircraft receiving more bookings.” “Our fleet is unique in that we have a range of aircraft that are able to accommodate every kind of shipment, and we can operate without conventional airport services if we have to. Having historically deployed our aircraft on humanitarian missions for organisations including the United Nations and the UAE Red Crescent, the fact that our aircraft are able to land at both major airports and less established landing strips will continue to be a vital part of our disaster relief activation plans,” he added. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 73 million people required immediate humanitarian assistance last year, a number that continues to rise annually. According to Al Qassimi, the main challenge to Maximus growth is the recession. “So far, we haven’t seen much implications of the corporate recession in this part of the world or in Asia. But Europe still remains weak. Fortunately enough, we have not penetrated very heavily into the European market. Our business currently is concentrated across Middle East and Africa which have sustained a growth of over five percent,” he said. However, he feels that the Middle East has been fairly resilient to recessionary pressures. “Talking specifically about this part of the world, yes, things have changed for the better. The air cargo market in the UAE has been maintaining a healthy positive growth. Specifically, the Middle East will continue to maintain double digit growth,” said Al Qassimi on a confident note. The company’s philosophy is rooted in offering customers responsive, practical, and cost effective solutions combining a personal approach with customer service. Operating across the UAE’s main airports since 2005, Maximus Air specializes in moving outsized and specialist air cargo including the transportation of dangerous goods, live animals, VIPs, rapid response and humanitarian flights. The Maximus Air fleet includes an Antonov AN124, the heaviest of heavyweight cargo lifters, capable of carrying 120 tons, which it can load and offload independently using onboard systems. Maximus Air is one of the largest all-cargo operators in the Middle East, offering a full and comprehensive complement of air cargo charters to destinations around the globe. Based in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, the company operates a fleet that includes the Antonov 124, Ilyushin 76, and Lockheed Hercules aircraft that are capable of carrying a diverse range of cargo to both established major airports and remote landing strips. Powered by a dedicated team of air and ground staff, Maximus provides cost-effective logistical solutions for moving oversized cargo, and works with international aid agencies that include the United Nations and UAE Red Crescent in order to provide a fast, efficient, and smooth response to humanitarian crises.