What inspired you to launch Critical?
It all started with the customer. We’d been visiting our aerospace customers around the world, and saw that they were tracking their shipments with enormous attention in control towers, much like Nasa has. Our Prioritise offering was not quite at that level, so we were looking to create a new service that would align and improve our premium products, taking them further and growing them. The idea for a product where customers could pay extra to book non-offloadable cargo onto busy flights has been around for a while, but an elevated level of service was necessary too. Currently in London and Madrid terminals we have fast-track reception lanes for deliveries, and customers can book on last-minute flights where they couldn’t before.
How do you ensure that customers get great service?
Since launching in October 2016, we’ve put in place an “end to end” service team for Critical, that looks after the shipments on shift 24/7. We’re looking to introduce greater facility on the booking side of things – currently customers book through their established reservation teams, but we want to get to a position where they can have their queries answered by contacting one number or email address.
Can you chart the success of Critical?
The first quarter of 2016 was successful, but in 2017 we saw a step change, carrying around 3,400 shipments, which is massive. We’ve also had a raft of regular customers, and new ones coming to us in particular for the service. We had strong performance across all our Premium products last year, but they probably haven’t seen the same growth that Critical has.
What are some of the major shipments coming out of Critical?
We’ve transported tyres for the F1 Grand Prix in Austin, Texas; a range of aerospace shipments for companies including Boeing and Rolls Royce and lots of automotive components too. We’ve also seen high-end electronics like smartphones, robotics, but our largest shipment was a chemical that is used in deodorant. We’ve seen one day transits of fresh tuna from Mauritius to LA, major oil and gas parts moving down to West Africa, and even shipments of wrapping paper around Christmas time.
What are some of the challenges that you face in the world of cargo?
Airports and cargo centres are dynamic environments to work in, and you’re often dealing with circumstances that are outside the airline’s control. For instance, if you’re in winter, you’re having to deal with issues like snow, that prevent aircraft taking off, and customers have an expectation that their goods will arrive on time. The challenge often is, how do we meet that expectation when these circumstances arise, using IAG Cargo’s extensive network to reroute if need be, plus the team’s expertise to respond to customers and get the problem sorted.