To find out how IAG Cargo’s recent partnership with Neutral Air Partner (NAP) is helping to create opportunities for SMEs on a global scale, we spoke to Christos Spyrou, CEO and Founder of Neutral Air Partner.
How long have you partnered with IAG Cargo, and why is this partnership valuable?
Our partnership began last year. We’re supporting airlines in diversifying their client base. During the pandemic, airlines realised that not having steady schedules is challenging. Multinationals work on an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), so they don’t have the same flexibility as SME airfreight experts. With IAG Cargo, we can empower SMEs to ensure they have the information and tools to take advantage of opportunities.
What inspired the creation of NAP?
NAP was founded in 2016 in Hong Kong, home of the world’s largest cargo airport. We started networking from Asia, due to its unique airfreight procurement model, which is far different than the western world.
At each airport in Asia, hundreds of air cargo players are being specialised on selected airlines and trade lanes. They operate as neutral BSA (Block Space Agreement) consolidators and sub-GSAs (General Sales Agents) to the trade – so called ‘master co-loaders’ – allowing our concept to grow. We’re seeing a significant number of local airfreight heroes who wish to join our organisation globally.
What are NAP’s main goals?
To inject a greater degree of advanced air cargo expertise, revive specialisation and sales focus, build competitive advantages through tailor-made IT tools, as well as deliver extensive knowledge through conferences, training programs and workshops – creating the most powerful group of air cargo specialists.
Why do you feel more advanced expertise is needed in the industry?
Anyone who wants to expand their global reach within the transport industry today, joins a logistics network, but often many of these are not as useful as they could be on account of their very general approach. In addition, industry experience, business specialisation and financial situation aren’t always assessed.
The airfreight segment needs a platform of advanced air cargo experts and suppliers. It needs collaborative tools and innovative IT solutions together with the right mechanisms for financial protection.
How do you aim to revive specialisation? What role does IAG Cargo play in this?
Membership to NAP is by invitation only, and is available to local and regional airfreight professionals. NAP partners are filtered by sub-industry specialisation, sales and trade lane focus, airline procurement strength, as well as vertical and commodity expertise.
Those invited have a commanding local presence, proven track record in air cargo operations, and are screened for their service quality, compliance and financial status. Our ambition is to become the world’s most powerful group of leading and independent air cargo architects.
How does NAP work? What kind of expertise do you offer?
NAP is an exceptional group of like-minded air cargo specialists that connect globally. Through an intranet and mobile member-to-member application and rate engine, members can create, edit and upload their profiles, including special promos, trade lane focus, and BSAs with carriers.
Our air cargo community tools are customised exclusively to the needs of our partners, enabling them to empower performance, optimise results, and promote their core products and services to the international logistics community.
Why is your focus on SMEs in particular?
SMEs represent over 45 % of the global airfreight volume, and our network is comprised by leading and independent air cargo sales agents and consolidators worldwide. Also, the SME community have always had limited representation in associations and regulators in our industry.
As a board member of TIACA (The International Air Cargo Association), which is now reaching out to all stakeholders in the air cargo value chain, NAP represents within the TIACA, the SME forwarders and consolidators, and can support the Association’s efforts to innovate and modernise the process of air cargo.
Through our Global Airline Partner Programme, we aim to significantly enhance the business volume between us and IAG Cargo. NAP network combined, generates over 1 billion dollars in cargo sales with all the carriers, and handles over 20,000 tonnes/100 million dollars, with each of the top 10 cargo airlines, proving the strength we have as a network if we stick together. As a group, we have significant airfreight buying power that out spaces some of the global forwarders.
What has been NAP’s largest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
The pandemic, of course, and the war in Ukraine, which is seriously impacting the global supply chain due to airfreight capacity shortage and rates instability.
Air cargo played a vital role in contributing to the operating financial targets of airlines, and the need to prepare for the post COVID-19 period was, and remains, imperative. The air cargo market is very fragmented due to the presence of shippers, forwarders, consolidators, brokers, GSAs, and airlines, which makes it very difficult for the supply chain to adapt during crisis or big market changes.
We will increase focus on BSAs and scheduled freight consolidation to reduce the cost of air freight, resulting in market concentration for forwarders and consolidators, followed by faster adoption of market technology, aiming to reduce operating costs.
How will NAP look to impact the future of airfreight?
One of our main objectives as an air cargo logistics group, has always been to unite our members and to drive buying power across the air cargo supply chain. “The power of Many”.
Neutral Air Partner stands out with an exceptional group of like-minded air cargo specialists that diligently connect the world. We are proud to partner with leading digital solutions providers worldwide, providing cutting-edge technology representing a defining step towards modernisation of the freight forwarding and consolidators market and facilitating these connections.
Also, we want to elevate the status of being an airfreight logistics provider and consolidator and feel prouder. We’re not just a transporter moving general cargo from A to B; we support the global supply chain moving complex and time critical cargoes including humanitarian aid and Covid vaccines. We do something special.
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