Bart Jan Haasbeek’s resume reads like a who’s who of air cargo. In addition to co-founding Inforwarding in 2001, Haasbeek spent nearly seven years at OAG Cargo, most recently serving as vice president of strategic cargo sales. He now begins a new chapter in his career, transitioning to Saudi Airlines Cargo’s country sales manager for the Netherlands. He recently sat down with Air Cargo World to discuss his new position, which is based at Schiphol Airport.
1. What are the top two goals you hope to accomplish in your new post?
My goals are to further strengthen the company’s focus and rapid expansion plans, growing our market share and assisting with the development of the Amsterdam hub. In fact, Saudi Airlines Cargo started a scheduled freighter service from Amsterdam just over a year ago.
My primary goals are to maintain and increase our solid market share and grow volumes by expanding the number of destinations offered to our customers. During the fourth quarter of 2011, we saw a more than 100-percent increase of destinations covered, compared to the previous quarter.
2. How have problems in the eurozone affected Saudi Cargo’s volumes to Amsterdam?
So far, we haven’t noticed any impact caused by the eurozone problems. Although we have observed a slowdown in traffic from Asia to Europe within the network, we saw a steep growth of cargo volumes from Europe in 2011. Still, the imbalance of intercontinental trade lane volumes will always remain a challenge as they shift.
3. How do you think the application of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to the aviation sector will affect Saudi Cargo’s European traffic?
One result will be that the cost for air transport will increase, causing more intra-European transports to be transferred by ground, mainly trucks. What’s more, the EU ETS will further increase airlines’ costs and put more pressure on profitability. As this is initiated by the European Union and not implemented globally, the possibility exists that intercontinental transit traffic could shift further to Middle Eastern hubs instead of European ones.
4. How will Saudi Cargo expand in Europe?
We are planning to open two more online stations in Europe as of 2012, offering online freighter flights from Frankfurt and Vienna. In Europe, we have defined five key areas: Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. Within these regions, we continue to focus and further expand commercial development. For instance, Saudi Airlines currently offers freighter capacity to New York and Houston from Brussels. In addition, Saudi Airlines Cargo’s ability to quickly adapt to changing markets strengthens our opportunities.
5. What are the biggest challenges currently facing the airfreight industry? How will you work to overcome them in your new role?
In my opinion, the biggest challenge affecting air cargo is the increasing demand and implementation of security regulations. Unfortunately, we have seen procedures and regulations that may obstruct further development in the air cargo industry. Although this isn’t a challenge specifically to Saudi Airlines Cargo, it’s one that will affect the supply chain and global trade in general.
There are different security regimes for different areas, and getting regulations aligned has proven to be difficult. Moreover, an ongoing threat for the future continues to be the total ban of airfreight on passenger flights. And when a major incident directly relating to belly cargo occurs, such a regulation becomes a serious possibility.