21st July is National Get to know your customers day. As part of this, Jo Farquhar, Research & Insights Manager from our Customer Experience team, spoke to Harriet Steele, European Procurement Manager at CEVA Logistics about her role, how IAG Cargo is working with CEVA Logistics, and what’s important for a strong relationship with an air cargo partner.
What does your role involve?
I joined CEVA Logistics last August and I’m the European procurement manager for air freight. Previously I worked for Qatar Airways Cargo in the pricing global accounts team, in the office of the SVP of Cargo. That put me in an excellent position for this role, which involves discussing our opportunities with airlines on a regional level.
I support our European gateways – London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. We aim to move our cargo through these gateways and consolidate the cargo for the economies of scale it brings. I also try to co-ordinate and negotiate the best offerings with the airlines in terms of capacity so we can really streamline our cargo flows.
As part of your role, it sounds like you work with a range of air cargo partners?
Yes. My role involves speaking to all the airlines that are within our partnership portfolio, IAG Cargo being one of our key cargo carriers. Internally, I work closely with our pricing team who receive the requests from our customers, and I also work with our operational team, who looks after the flows of cargo.
What’s the biggest challenge that you face as part of your role?
I’ve come from an airline, so learning all the technicalities around freight forwarding versus an airline wasn’t straightforward. I’ve been in air cargo 5-6 years; I studied aviation…but it was still really different.
It’s a challenge, but a good one. It’s a different pace – very fast. Every day we have a different request, adjustments to be made, new customers or changes in the requirements from our customers, which I need to translate to what we need from an airline. And we have a very diverse group of customers. You have to learn to adapt very quickly.
And is there anything that your air cargo partners can do to help you with those challenges, and with that daily juggling?
IAG Cargo has been great at matching the flexibility and adaptability that we need, for example with quick responses. They are transparent and open on communication, meaning we can get in touch and we know who to reach out to.
It’s important for me to know that our contact at IAG Cargo will support us and come up with creative solutions when needed. We’ve had situations that haven’t gone well the first time and we need our carrier partners to come with a solution, which IAG Cargo has always been able to deliver.
What sort of goods travel on IAG Cargo’s network, and what are the major trade lanes?
IAG Cargo’s network is incredibly extensive. However it’s the capacity into the US from Europe that we are currently utilising the most. At CEVA, we transport a range of things- from mechanical engineering equipment, to cosmetics and fashion.
What about colder goods, perishables?
Coming soon! It’s an area we’re looking to expand out of Europe. It will be a different model from our other cargo because we can’t send perishables into our gateways to consolidate with other cargo because of the nature of the goods – it needs to move quicker. We were recently given a tour of the IAG Cargo warehouse in Madrid which highlighted what IAG Cargo could do to support on out of Madrid, which highlighted what IAG Cargo could do to support on out of Madrid. We’d like to utilise the network opportunities between Spain and Latin America.
Pharmaceuticals continue to be a big focus for CEVA. We’ve increasingly been building up our infrastructure to support this- also aspects like certifications and quality agreements with all of our partners.
What’s most important to you in the relationships with your air cargo partners like IAG Cargo? What are you looking for from an air cargo partner?
Transparency is very important – on both sides. We look to share as much information as we can. For example, if we’re in an RFQ, we’ll be transparent about the stage we’re at. We need to understand your capabilities on the route and the price so that we can position it well for our client. By being transparent with you, when we hopefully win that business, we can start moving together and we’re on the same page.
It’s also important that we’re transparent in sharing our targets, and our challenges. That transparency around our situation and why we’re asking for certain things, alongside your position and how you can help us – that’s the beauty of the partnership that we’re building.
It’s really important that we’re updated on any changes to our network as soon as possible, it helps us plan, explore new opportunities or prepare customers for any tweaks to their service.
What’s one thing you’d like to see from the IAG Cargo team in the future?
From a network perspective, we’re hungry for more eastbound routes– China, Japan, Korea. We want to replicate what we’ve built in the US. Our aim is to build into Asia as your network in that region comes back- we want to be there with you. We want our growth together to be going eastbound as well as West. Due to well-publicised reasons, that market doesn’t have enough capacity.
CEVA Logistics has set some ambitious goals- it’s an exciting time to be in the company. We aim to become a top five freight forwarder within five years. We’re investing; everyone has a clear vision of where we should be. It’s also an exciting time to be one of our partners – for example being there when we’re starting to grow in pharmaceuticals. We’re excited to have IAG Cargo alongside us for the ride.
We really appreciate the support IAG Cargo provides!