Russia’s Aeroflot terminated most of its sales agency agreements across Europe with effect from December 31, and told GSSAs it was going to sell cargo services direct via the internet.
Notifying customers of the sudden change to their arrangements earlier the same day, Amsterdam-based GSSA Active Airline Representatives apologized for the short notice but said: “We have been negotiating and discussing with them until this very last day.”
Ton Smulders, owner of Active, had worked with Aeroflot since founding his company in 1993, and for another five years prior to that with another concern. Smulders, a former president of the EGSAC network of independent GSSAs, said other agencies in Belgium, France, Spain and Italy were also affected.
“Aeroflot operates two daily passenger services from Schiphol to Moscow with an A320, so we had 4.5 to 5 tons of capacity per day,” Smulders told Air Cargo World. “We were performing well and did 1.3 million kilos in 2012, a load factor of around 90 percent.
“We’re sad to see Aeroflot go. With such a large network of flights to the CIS countries, it’s a sleeping giant,” he added. “They have gold in their hands. They have a different culture and a different approach to the market, but it’s been a pleasure working with them.”
One reason for the long-running negotiations was the carrier’s unusual plan to sell solely online. “They’re part of Skyteam along with Delta, Air France and others, and we asked them which of their partners are selling on the internet. There are none–they would lose business. Why do this?” Smulders asked.
“Who is going to look after capacity control? Who will be there to decide on the number of pallet positions available and whether a large shipment fits on the pallet, advise handling agents on what equipment they need, or prioritize a perishable shipment over general cargo? On the occasions when we had to leave cargo behind, we could drive down to the ramp and supervise loading.
“We asked them to offer a temporary contract or wait till the end of the winter season and review results then, but it’s a corporate decision they seem to have made.”
Smulders said Aeroflot accounted for 25 percent of Active’s business, so the company would be forced to “look at our own cost base”.