United Cargo’s beacon of hope

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United Cargo’s new president Jan Krems is all set to bring in a wave of change in the organisation. In his new role, Krems will be responsible for all aspects of United Cargo's sales, revenue management, operations, customer service, product quality, marketing and technology solutions. An industry veteran, Krems joined United after a 27-year old stint with KLM Cargo, where he served in a number of leadership roles. On the sidelines of the TIACA ACF 2014 at Seoul, South Korea, The STAT Trade Times’ team caught up with Krems for an exclusive chat. When asked what is his plan of action to maintain United’s growth curve, Krems responds, “I don’t just plan to maintain the growth curve but also increase it. I think United Cargo has a lot of potential. There are some basic things that need to be organized to make the growth curve workable.” A couple of them, Jan identifies as fundamentals, which is core to the business. “On the operational side, we have 370 stations across the world and 5300 flights a day and I want to make sure we have a product that will fly from A to B operationally from these stations at least 98 percent of the times the right way.” Considering a complete overhaul of processes within United, Krems is looking to build more value-added products once the operational side is in place, and that, he plans to achieve by aligning processes. “We have a lot of vendors or handling companies who work with us; they should be trimmed. We should have only a core base of vendors who work and follow the same methodology throughout the whole system. Then we have the entire IT system, the commercial system and the accounting system, which require change. We are also implementing a new revenue management system within United.” Speaking as a true leader, Krems believes in people management skills. “We need to see whether we have the right jobs for the right people. I always believe that we have two kinds of assets – planes and people. Planes we can buy but in the case people, we need to make sure that we give them the right environment so that they really like the work. I believe we have the right people at United Cargo, so it’s our job as leaders to provide vision and motivation. The strongest motivation is an achievable goal that involves everyone and benefits everyone.” Krems believes that overcapacity and modal shift are the biggest constraints that the air cargo industry faces at the moment. “Business conditions in the air cargo industry continue to remain challenging. Every downturn or recession is a proof to make sure that you emerge stronger. Overcapacity is an issue that I see as the biggest challenge in the market right now. Overcapacity across many markets has shrunken yields. Modal shift is another hurdle. We, as the air cargo industry, need to continuously innovate to make sure that we do not lose business to sea freight. And for that, we need to make sure we have our base product right, and then make sure we have enough growth potential in our value-added products,” he said. “Our goal in the next couple of years is to grow back to where we were earlier, and this we can achieve once we have our foundation, the right tools, the right people and the right structure in place – that would take the year 2015, and then from 2016 onwards, we can grow much faster,” he assures. 

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