Brussels Airlines, which operates from their hub Brussels Airport, was established 10 years ago, after the merger of SN Brussels and Virgin Express.
Their network consists of more than 90 European, African and North-American destinations. From March 2017 they will add India to their growing network with 5 weekly flights to Mumbai. Brussels Airlines Cargo is the freight division of the Belgian Airline.
New VP Cargo
On January 1st of this year, Alban François was appointed as Vice President of Global Cargo at Brussels Airlines. In his previous role as strategic purchasing manager for the airline, he was closely involved in the tender procedure of the GSSA and the contract drafting process of Air Logistics Group. Since then, he also was involved in a new plan of action to create a new strategy of the airline’s freight division. Alban is a civil engineer, who started his career in the Belgian Air Force, where he was responsible for the maintenance of the C-130 airlift fleet and the deployment of the new NH90 helicopters.
New Strategy in General
Previously, cargo was the “icing on the cake” for Brussels Airlines, adding to the airline’s result. . The focus was mainly on filling up the aircrafts bellyholds as much as possible. In the new strategy, cargo is a full-fledged business unit, besides passenger handling, and is considered a ‘second cake’. “In short, it is our ambition to offer air cargo solutions according to the wishes and requirements of the customer” says Alban. “Our focus isn’t exclusively on filling up the aircrafts belly’s. Based on customer needs, we have changed our product range, remodeled our organization and streamlined our communication. The familiar tension field between commerce and operations has been settled. Both fall under my responsibility to ensure a better alignment between the departments”, says Alban.
New strategy in practice
What does the new strategy mean in practice? “For instance, we have adjusted our courier product to the wishes of our customer. An example hereof is a 1 hour cut-off time prior to departure and working with an accompanying voucher instead of an air waybill. Our central control tower can always keep track of the courier package while it’s being flown” says Alban. He continues:”Our Pharma product has also been upgraded. The so called BRUCargo pharma forum, which we are a part of, is where we discuss the requirements for shipping pharma in each step of the logistic process. From shipper to consignee, each stakeholder’s position is carefully considered. Here as well, the wishes of the customer are key and together we discuss options for the supply chain. The basic idea is that together, with transparency throughout the supply chain, we stand stronger and thus are able to guarantee more quality instead of when each individual safeguards their own domain.
Role of CargoClaims
Besides reviewing the product range and its properties, our operations and administration is reviewed within the new strategy. An example is the ‘customer centric process improvement’ program. This way customer feedback, together with internal process reporting of irregularities, is clustered from the perspective of priority and reciprocity. In this program, CargoClaims plays an important role for Brussels Airlines, which we have been using for some time now. “This online tool centralizes our customer feedback, clusters it by subject and sorts them by relevance. Because we cannot tackle everything at once, we focus on improvements with the most positive impact (increase customer satisfaction and efficiency). “
The Iata innovation awarded CargoClaims platform, developed by CargoHub BV, offers a solution through multiple modules to support quality management enabling us to record, follow up and monitor root-cause investigations. The available data can be used for quality and risk analysis and this allows us to act and improve specific processes within the organization. “After we have implemented these changes and improvements, on the basis of customer input, the cargo claims tool allows us to communicate feedback to our customer as well. We intend to live up to to our promise of putting the customer first”, according to Alban. To the question of when Brussels Airlines will reach it’s objectives, Alban replies ”It’s a continuous improvement process, with which we will never stop”.
Back in control
In the past, Brussels Airlines Cargo activities were run by a GSSA, whom also acted for other airlines. In the new strategy, a separate business unit has been created within the appointed GSSA, Air Logistics Group, with dedicated employees to handle Brussels Airlines Cargo. Creating this new business unit was a great opportunity to bring together people with extensive industry backgrounds, selected by the GSSA and the airline together. Combining the strengths of both companies like this, allowed for a quick transformation. The goal is for the GSSA employees to eventually join the airline.The transition from GSSA to Brussels Airlines Cargo is a gradual process with the aim to be fully integrated by 2017. The European hub in Brussel will be fully self-steered by an experienced team of Brussels Airlines Cargo.
Alban ends: “Brussels Airlines Cargo wants to offer its customers the best air freight solutions. Everything that crosses our path will be assessed according to this ambition, just like cargo claims. That is the only way to live up to Brussels Airlines’ slogan: We go the extra smile.”