With companies such as ECS andAir Logistics trumpeting the benefitsof multinational GSAs, is there still aplace in the world for single countryGSAs?
LÂ¨Â¦on Meier, president of Airnautic,one of Switzerland’s oldest GSAs andrepresentative in that country of ChinaSouthern, Air New Zealand and BimanBangladesh, certainly thinks so.With a history dating back to 1958, hesays the company has an unrivalledknowledge of the Swiss market, anda depth that the multinational GSAscannot match.
For example, Airnautic is presentat all three international airports inSwitzerland Â¨C Zurich, Geneva andBasel. "Not many GSAs can say that,"says Meier. And not only can it takedeliveries from forwarders at all thesethree points, but it also does pick-upsfrom the shipper for shipments over1/5 tonnes. "That reduces the amountof transhipment, and so reduces theopportunities for loss and damage,"Meier points out.
Since Switzerland has almost nofreighter operations, Airnautic’s customerstend to be offline. But anotherace up the company’s sleeve is its roadfeeder network, which reaches Amsterdam,Frankfurt, Paris and Luxembourgdaily, with regular services also to otherEuropean hubs.
Thus Airnautic can feed ChinaSouthern flights out of Amsterdam, aswell as serving Martinair and Polar AirCargo flights out of the same airport. "Itwas trucking service and our presenceat all three airports which persuaded Martinair to close their Swiss office anduse us instead in 1999," says Meier." We now feed cargo to them in Amsterdam for destinations all over their network, including Asia."
With all these services, he reckonsAirnautic is more than a match forthe multinational GSAs of this world."Some airlines look for one GSA tocover all of Europe, but you have to askif these global GSAs can serve Switzerlandas well as we can," he says.
He cites Airnautic’s membership ofthe Swiss agents and logistics association,which was expanded from beingpurely for forwarders to allow the GSAto join.
"Being a member has helped usbuild up a lot of goodwill with Swissagents," he says. "In my view, airlines who use one GSA to cover all of Europe are missing out on some of these advantages. They are not getting as much business from individual countries as they could."
With the growing imbalance onAsia-Europe routes, Airnautic, likeother European GSAs, has found ithard to get eastbound revenue for itscarriers. "Life is not easy. You have tobe satisfied with volume, because thelow rates mean margins are not verygood," Meier admits.
This is true even for Switzerland’spremium pharmaceuticals traffic, whichis concentrated particularly around theBasel area. "If there is plenty of capacity, whatever you carry the rates are not high. But fortunately since we operate our own road feeder service, we can get a margin on that too. Trucking margins are also low, but if you add it to the air freight margin, it certainly helps our income."
Â¨C Peter Conway