Blazing new trails
In this article, Air Cargo World profiles three of the biggest names in the airfreight industry. Read on to learn how AirBridgeCargo's Tatyana Arslanova, Air Charter Service's Chris Leach and Virgin Atlantic Cargo's John Lloyd are advancing the global cargo sector.
If airfreight is the barometer of global economic health, then 2012 has been fraught with illness. Tatyana Arslanova, executive president of AirBridgeCargo Airlines, doesn’t dispute this fact, but says the difference between faltering and surviving in the market lies in one’s ability to adapt. “It’s a tough and challenging environment, and we have to fight to survive and to provide better solutions,” she says.
Although Arslanova admits that Moscow-based ABC wasn’t immune to market fluctuations thisyear, she cites some pretty impressive statistics. The all-freight offshoot of Volga-Dnepr Airlines recorded 8.5-percent, year-over-year, growth in the first eight months of 2012 — a vast improvement from the sluggish worldwide cargo data the International Air Transport Association and other organizations gathered during this period.
Key to ABC’s success throughout the year, Arslanova says, was the launch of routes to profitable destinations. In January, the carrier introduced three-times-weekly freight service to Chengdu International Airport, connecting the capitol of the Sichuan province to major European destinations, including Moscow and Amsterdam. An ABC route from Moscow to Chongqing commenced four months later, a service complementing the carrier’s route to the prolific manufacturing hub of Zhengzhou.
“We feel that the logistics traffic is moving to central China, so we started routes to Chengdu and Chongqing to provide better services for key shippers,” Arslanova says.
March also saw the expansion of ABC services, with the carrier commencing freight service from Germany’s Hannover-Langenhagen Airport to Beijing Capital International Airport, via Moscow. It’s a move that reportedly capitalizes on the carrier’s recent 49-percent stake in Air Cargo Germany. Even so, Arslanova points out, the common denominator of all the new routes is Russia. “We see that the Russian market continually grows,” she says. “It’s going against the stream of worldwide traffic.”
Going against the stream is a theme that has characterized Arslanova’s entire career. After joining Volga-Dnepr Group’s marketing department in 1995, she quickly scaled the corporate ladder, eventually transitioning to vice president of marketing and strategy. When the time came in 2008 to lead subsidiary ABC’s marketing department, Arslanova jumped at the opportunity, spending more than a year developing and executing the carrier’s business plan. Her biggest role, to date, came on Jan. 1, 2010, when she was appointed chief executive of ABC.
Arslanova doesn’t downplay the demands of the position. “There are huge responsibilities in terms of safety and security as well as having the right people in the right places so we can survive in this cargo environment,” she says. “It’s a challenge.” Also challenging, she says, is being an all-freight operator in today’s market. Despite ABC’s route expansion and the notable growth the company recorded earlier this year, Arslanova admits that ABC has been “suffering” lately.
“But we believe in the future, and for us it’s time to change — time to change in terms of services we can provide,” she says. Fortunately, Arslanova says, “We have a lot of ideas about how to change, how to be more innovative, and how to deliver cargo faster, and [foster] its future development.”