Blazing new trails
Taking paper out of the airfreight supply chain is one of her key goals. ABC, which is an associate member of IATA’s Cargo 2000 interest group, began test flights using air waybills this summer, two years after the carrier launched its e-freight initiative. Arslanova has high hopes for the project — especially in ABC’s domestic Russian market, where, she says, the Customs process is often cumbersome. “Our pilot flights were successful,” she says, “and we are looking forward to implementing e-Customs.”
Arslanova’s focus on sustainability has also extended to fleet planning. Since the beginning of the year, ABC has taken delivery of two Boeing 747-8Fs, elevating its 747 fleet to 12 freighters. The aircraft, which are being utilized on ABC’s core routes between China, Moscow and Europe, replace older Boeing Classics, Arslanova says. She calls the 747-8Fs a game-changer for ABC, explaining that they allow the freight carrier to maintain the highest standards of environmental compliance, as well as the “youngest freighter fleet in the industry.”
The new aircraft are also positively impacting ABC’s charter operations, Arslanova says. Since the beginning of 2012, ABC has chartered flights ranging from commercial to humanitarian operations. Some of the company’s more memorable assignments from 2012 include hauling a 1,146-pound walrus from Russia to Germany and transporting 100 tonnes of food supplies to International Security Assistance Force personnel in Afghanistan.
To Arslanova, these assignments highlight ABC’s ability to serve niche markets and address varying customer demand. “For us, it’s always about key decisions,” she says, “decisions about which markets to serve and which solutions to provide, and the growth [opportunities] we can provide.”
General economic malaise has led Arslanova to scrap expansion plans for 2013. Anticipating flat growth for the year, she reveals that ABC won’t be adding capacity on any of its routes in 2013. Instead, Arslanova says, ABC’s objective will be to “continue improving productivity and efficiency” on existing routings.
Even so, Arslanova maintains that she is constantly on the lookout for new, profitable regions to serve. The U.S., in particular, is rather attractive to her. Although Air Cargo Germany is completely taking over ABC’s traffic between Europe and North America, Arslanova would love to break into new U.S. markets.
“We operate in Chicago right now, and we are looking to expand our network with our partners to Atlanta and other destinations in four years,” she says. “We want cargo from the U.S. to Russia.” Arslanova reveals that roughly 50 percent of ABC’s traffic goes directly to Russia — which, she says, is a boon to operations since the Russian market is hot. “Our advantage is the [market access] we can provide to our freight-forwarding customers.”
Arslanova says staying afloat in a stormy market requires ABC to adapt to customer demand and foster a culture of innovation. This concept applies to her as a leader in the global airfreight sector, as well, she explains. Arslanova says the recipe for her success — as well as the continued success of her company — involves three key ingredients: “an innovative management style, understanding our business model and understanding how to be sustainable from a long-term prospective.”
The year was 1990, and Chris Leach needed a job. So with a young family to feed, and an intense desire to help people using the skills he had first learned as a university student and had carried with him all his life, he started Air Charter Service as a humanitarian-focused charter brokerage. This small company, which began life as a small operation out of his basement, has since grown into one of the big three charter players in Europe.