Re-inventing the Role of the Airline
British Airways World Cargo is re-inventing the perception that airlines only carry perishables goods from 'A to B' and is building a dynamic new value-added business in the process.The airline industry has traditionally earned a chequered reputation with major supermarket chains, perishables importers in the UK and overseas growers. Perishables is a difficult and highly time-sensitive cargo to transport and is only carried by many airlines because there is no alternative on many international routes if they are to generate any freight revenue. Lack of understanding about the special needs of this cargo and poor airport handling facilities often resulted in large insurance claims and a further deterioration of working relationships with airlines.In 1995, British Airways World Cargo set out to change all that and in four years has developed a multi-million pound 'business within a business' that is revolutionising its relationships with perishables customers.Tony Wright, the airline's manager of global sales & development, was given the brief to build the airlines perishables business. He says: "British Airways' unique network meant we had always carried a large volume of fresh produce traffic out of countries in Africa, the US west coast and South America, but like every other carrier, we previously had no special facilities for this business." We recognised significant potential if we started to work more closely with perishables customers to gain a clear understanding of their requirements. As a result of this process, in 1995, we opened a dedicated fresh produce centre close to Heathrow."
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