For the AIR FREIGHT segment, we spoke to Michael Jonas, our Global Head of Air Freight.
Michael, why don't you start by telling us something about your personal background? What kind of training did you have? How long have you been working in the Air Freight segment?
I basically followed the classic path of our niche and trained as a freight forwarder. At Kühne + Nagel in Frankfurt. The traineeship started in 2005 and from the very beginning Air Freight was my focus. Because of the Frankfurt location, this was an obvious choice, and the area appealed to me the most from the very beginning.
How long have you been working for SENATOR INTERNATIONAL?
I started working for SENATOR this year. I have been with the company since April 2020 and, as Global Head of Air Freight, I lead our work in this segment.
What are the constant challenges in your work, especially in the Air Freight segment?
In general, the Air Freight market tends to be very volatile, as it is fundamentally subject to constant changes. These are influenced by a wide variety of factors.
This year, COVID-19 has accordingly complicated the situation even further. Ultimately, this pandemic is a good reminder of how susceptible the entire market is to unpredictable factors. Reduced capacities lead to higher prices and the market situation is more difficult to calculate.
It is therefore very important to offer customers a solid service with reliable solutions despite such fluctuations. The focus is on customer needs: the customer should feel as little as possible of the challenges.
If we talk specifically about Air Freight at SENATOR INTERNATIONAL: What are our unique selling points? What specifically distinguishes the service?
The question can be answered quite clearly with our premium product: our "SAB" freighter network. With our own controlled flights, which regularly operate to the USA (SENATOR Atlantic Bridge), South Africa (SENATOR Africa Bridge) and Singapore (SENATOR Asia Bridge).
This service actually represents a unique selling point in the market. Our global network gives us the opportunity to ensure continuity and predictability on the routes we operate. In addition, this gives us greater flexibility and the ability to react quickly. To a certain extent, we are also able to increase the frequency of our individual services, depending on capacity utilization and demand. Thanks to our connection via hubs such as Miami for South and Latin America, or Singapore for Australia and Southeast Asia, we can also effectively reach more remote regions and include them in our network.
Looking at the current situation, what are the main challenges posed by the Corona crisis for your department?
The main problem: capacity bottlenecks. You have to keep in mind that the pandemic took 50% of pre-COVID capacity out of the market due to travel bans or other restrictions. Much of the air cargo was previously carried on passenger planes. This fell and is falling away for the most part due to the crisis, thus creating the bottlenecks. When the demand for air freight increased, this was then also clearly felt and still is.
For the coming year 2021, the global distribution of vaccines will be a huge challenge for the entire industry. When transportation itself begins, new and previously unavailable capacity constraints will arise.
At SENATOR, we are preparing for the new market situation that will show a serious effect throughout the industry. We are currently arming ourselves for 2021: among other things, with plans for a broader offering in the direction of Asia, especially China, and in the direction of Latin and South America.
Let's finish with an outlook. What will happen to Air Freight in the foreseeable future?
The situation will remain unpredictable for some time to come. The current assessment is that we will not reach a pre-covid level until 2023 or even 2024. As already indicated, we are in the process of further expanding our global network and further optimizing processing.
The beauty of this segment is the clearly noticeable development. We would like to and will bring SENATOR even closer together in air freight worldwide by having a direct exchange with individual regions. We are only strong as a global team. The better our global networking and cooperation works, the better we will be able to respond to market changes in the short term and offer solutions in the future.
Michael, thank you very much for the interesting interview