Air Cargo Leaders: Roger Crook, Des Vertannes
Crook: I was obviously thrown into the fire, but at the end of the day, I knew a lot of people in the division, and I knew a lot of the customers, so the learning side is more about the specific operations. But at the end of the day, it’s import/export, and that’s what I’ve been doing at express. It’s exactly the same process at a high level; it’s at a lower level that the processes are different. It’s been a steep learning curve, and I still have a lot to learn. It’s a big challenge, but I see lots of opportunity to bring ideas from express into the forwarding world and to share what processes or share the way we did things and improve things in forwarding. There are synergies between forwarding and express. We do utilize, for example, the express air network with DGF.
ACW: What are some of the major challenges you see on the horizon?
Crook: At the end of the day, what will happen with the economy, and will China really slow down? What will happen with the European sovereign debt, which seems to be getting worse? The economy will be the biggest challenge because our customers’ business will be impacted as well as our business. There will always be the natural disaster; there will always be the regulation change — like the U.S. security regulations. For me, regulation change is something that we have to manage, and we will invest accordingly. If the regulation change in terms of scanning is not practical, then we will obviously challenge it through the relevant bodies. But I think we’re ready for the U.S. change in terms of scanning. It comes into Europe in terms of the unknown shipper in March 2013. We’re gearing up for that now. This is just the way of doing business. We have to do it for our customers.
Des Vertannes: Giving voice to an industry
As the head of cargo for the International Air Transport Association, Des Vertannes is recognized worldwide as a global leader in airfreight. Vertannes, who assumed the role in 2010 after lengthy stints with Etihad Crystal Cargo, British Airways, Air Canada and Gulf Air, recently sat down with Air Cargo World to discuss the challenges — and opportunities — of his unique position.
Air Cargo World: What do you enjoy most about your job?
Des Vertannes: I enjoy working with members of the industry to incite change and make the global airfreight sector more secure, competitive, efficient, profitable and sustainable. There is a great deal to be achieved, but doing so is only possible if the industry can come together and work in unison. Although the immense economic and financial pressures we’re currently facing only makes this harder, I enjoy the privilege of working with my industry peers and colleagues toward achieving these goals.
ACW: How does IATA view cargo?
Vertannes: Cargo is very high on IATA’s priority list. As you know, we have set some
challenging targets, particularly with regard to issues such as e-freight, and our board expects us to follow them through. IATA’s target is to reach 10-percent volume on live e-freight lanes by the end of 2011, and we are on target to meet that. We are similarly concerned with security, which has garnered enormous political and regulatory attention of late. We’ve been supportive of the work of the U.S. government, the International Civil
Aviation Organization and the World Customs Organization in bringing forward solutions, such as secure freight, and collaborating about ways to manage risk. These organizations are also championing the provision of advance cargo and goods information, which we support.