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Exclusive interview with Matthieu Casey, Senior Director, Cargo Global Sales & Revenue Optimization at Air Canada Cargo
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Exclusive interview with Matthieu Casey, Senior Director, Cargo Global Sales & Revenue Optimization at Air Canada Cargo

In an interview with ALN News, Matthieu Casey referred to several issues related to his role as the leader of Air Canada Cargo’s global sales as well as the business intelligence, network strategy, interline partnerships, pricing and distribution and capacity optimisation teams. Last June he was promoted to senior director, cargo global sales and revenue optimisation.

-It’s been few months since you took over. What are the challenges of doing so in the midst of a pandemic?

 Having been with the company for over a decade and leading our Cargo Revenue Management and Network Planning teams just prior to taking on my expanded role, I am fortunate that this was not too much of a shock to the system. We have been working tirelessly at keeping trade-flows open and have added stable long-term cargo capacity in many of our strong cargo markets, which has also solidified our position in the market and our offering to our customers. The challenges have mostly been around feeling like we’re in a sprint, but one that feels like a marathon.

-Which were the main issues that you faced due the lack of connectivity and border closures to move cargo that you typically transport on passenger flights?

– Quickly and efficiently setting up a cargo-only network with passenger aircraft took an immense amount of coordination across many different branches within our company and across many geographies. It was a challenge but also a great opportunity to work with even more alignment between the cargo and passenger branches of our business. We are now seeing the fruits of our labour, with global tonnages coming back to 2019 levels, and in some key markets and on specific lanes, we have seen tonnages grow by double-digit percentages vs. 2019, namely from Latin America.

-How did the cargo industry take advantage of the current situation, and which were the main success stories for Air Canada?

– Our biggest opportunity was for cargo to be on an elevated stage and to shine a light on the importance of this area in our overall business in the context of the entire airline and indeed global trade. As is the case with most of our fellow airlines, cargo has always been a very well recognized area of the business, but this was even more evident in the current context and allowed us to solidify our alignment with the rest of the business. We received a tremendous amount of support from the company around all of the investments that we have been planning, including the introduction of our freighters later this year, and our expanded cold chain facility at Toronto Pearson International Airport, which broke ground earlier this month.

-How did COVID change the type of commodities that are usually transported by air? 

– Some commodities have undergone a model shift due to supply chain slow downs and other slowing effects in other modes of transport, but the commodity mix has remained mostly the same from our perspective.

-How important were revenues from the cargo business to the overall business of Air Canada?

 – Cargo has always played an important role for the overall business, but like most airlines experienced, the split of revenue between passenger and cargo vastly changed under the cloud of the pandemic, with some airlines going from cargo representing around 5% of overall revenue to close to 50%. As travel starts to resume around the world, we are thrilled to start to see the pendulum shift back.

-In terms of numbers, how do you assess 2020 versus 2019 numbers? And what do you predict in terms of 2021?

Our growth on the revenue side has seen a positive trend from 2019 to 2020, but this was mostly the effect of much higher market conditions and factors that were not necessarily as predictable or sustainable. For 2021, it is shaping up to be a strong increase over 2020 but in a much more meaningful and sustainable way, with not only good revenue performance but also volumes returning back to 2019 levels and, in some key markets, above 2019 levels.

-You have planned for October the opening of new cargo routes, 4 of them to South America. How profitable are these markets for the company?

These routes are carefully planned, very robust cargo markets and well-known markets for us. We are launching into routes that are strategically strong considering our geography and our strong network reach across into EMEAI and APAC.

– What are the key priorities for you to allow air cargo in Latin America to support the region’s economic recovery?

– Providing long-term consistent capacity and strong network connectivity have always been our key drivers. We clearly demonstrated this, even during the pandemic, by being one of the first carriers to set-up consistent scheduled cargo-only flights to provide economic relief to the region and have seen our overall footprint and volumes transported grow consistently over 2019 numbers.

-The company has also pointed out the arrival of new 767 family aircrafts, converted to freighters. What will be the benefits of operating these aircrafts? How much will capacity grow?

This is an exciting time to be launching into what was already a planned expansion for us. The capacity growth and ability to pinpoint strong cargo markets to operate into are only a few benefits. We are also excited to be able to offer more opportunities to our customers in terms of products and services and expect to grow into even more exciting markets as we continue to take delivery of our aircraft throughout the next 2 years

-Recently, IATA Net Rates welcomed Air Canada Cargo to the association’s air cargo rates platform, providing the company with an additional digital option for its customers…What can you tell us about this?

– We are thrilled to have joined IATA Net Rates and recognized this as part of the industry’s overall push to continue the digitization of cargo. Our API, distribution and digital evolution relies on industry to move in this direction, which is clearly happening, and we could not be happier.

-What are your hopes for 2021 and what is the one key lesson you take away from this never seen before pandemic?

– I’m anxious to see the world start to return to normal as we exit the pandemic and thankful at the amount of goodwill and strong sense of community that the pandemic has brought out in people. As we start to get back out and travel, we see how interconnected we are and need to be, and the pandemic did not dimmish that… it strengthened it.

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Fuente: ALN
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