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Sun 20 Aug 2006 04:00 AM

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Climbing the ladder

FedEx is expanding its worldwide operations, but according to Hamdi A. Osman, FedEx's regional vice president for the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa, its core focus, is to expand within the Indian market.

FedEx is expanding its worldwide operations, but according to Hamdi A. Osman, FedEx's regional vice president for the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa, its core focus, is to expand within the Indian market.

From cleaning FedEx trucks in New Jersey to becoming FedEx’s regional vice president for the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa, is not your every day occurrence. But then Hamdi A. Osman is no regular sort of person.

Born in Egypt, he emigrated to the US in 1976, where he played professional football, and joined FedEx in 1978. He quickly worked his way up the ladder and was promoted to managing director of operations through a number of areas across the US.

He moved to Dubai in 1991, where he was responsible for the Middle East operations and eventually became its vice president.

He says: “I never imagined I would reach today’s position when I started my career. At that time, I was thinking I may end up being the best truck washer in the company. When I was made a manager, I started thinking, maybe I would be the best manager in the company.”

FedEx is now looking to expand its presence in India from its base in the Middle East, with Osman taking the reigns. This will be supported by the company’s order for ten A380 freighters, the first to be delivered in August 2008.

Coinciding with the recent order, the company has also scooped a major three-year contract to transport spare parts for Emirates Airline.

“FedEx began operations in the Middle East in 1989, when its regional headquarters and gateway facility were established in Dubai. This office now serves the Middle East, Indian subcontinent and Africa,” says Osman. “The UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait are direct-served markets; the other countries are provided with FedEx services through a network of global service participants.”

In April 2005, the company upgraded its existing flights with two Boeing MD-11 freighters, increasing capacity in the Middle East by 1.5 million pounds per week.

Osman says this has given FedEx customers the opportunity to ship larger quantities of goods at a faster rate than ever before.

“The new aircraft facilitates two new direct flights operating five times a week, from Dubai to Northern India and China, resulting in increased capacity to Europe and the United States,” he says.

He adds: “The first of these flights travels eastbound and connects Dubai directly to more of India, linking the Middle East with India’s two largest economic and industrial cities: New Delhi and Mumbai. The second flight travels westbound, increasing FedEx’s cargo capacity to Europe and the United States, providing heavyweight shippers greater access to our global network.”

Osman adds that when the A380s come into service, each plane will be able to accommodate double the capacity of Boeing’s MD-11, but the American manufacturer’s aircraft will be able to support the superjumbo.

Osman says Emirates’ recent announcment that the A380 will be delayed by an extra six months has not affected FedEx’s decision to acquire the giant aircraft: “Airbus has committed to delivering the first A380s to FedEx in the first quarter of 2009, which represents a six month delay. This has had no impact on the order,” he says.

India is becoming a major focus for FedEx, with five flights a week, even as the US-based air cargo giant is expanding its global presence. “We are expanding our operations across the globe, but India is our core focus at this present time. The economy of the country is growing at a rapid rate and a suitable business atmosphere is building up,” says Osman.

The five new weekly flights of FedEx will increase the total number of flights to India to 16. The new flights will connect New Delhi with key import and export centres in the US, Europe, China and other Asian countries.

As well as improving connectivity between the Middle East and India through increased air links, FedEx has also enhanced its trucking networks in both regions, thereby expanding the express transportation options between key export centres and regional hubs. “This is of particular benefit to FedEx customers with large distribution networks stretching across both regions,” says Osman. “In addition, we have recently hired 184 new employees for our India operations, taking the total number of staff here to 425.”

FedEx launched new service expansions in India in October that connected the country to more of the world by providing customers with enhanced transit and cut-off times, increased cargo capacity and faster access to the global marketplace.

FedEx has increased flight frequencies into and out of India and improved connectivity between key export centres and regional hubs like Delhi.

The company has also added capacity to move shipments of greater weight and size to key global markets within 24 to 48 hours.

In addition, exporters are able to clear customs earlier allowing more time for production — a key benefit to manufacturing customers.

Through the FedEx India service expansion, the company says it continues to operate the largest number of international flights of any express carrier in India.

“FedEx is the first express carrier to have two gateways in India-Mumbai and Delhi. It is also the first to have eastbound and westbound capability for both Mumbai and Delhi, therefore, it has the best connectivity between India and Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas,” says Osman.

Helping to boost cargo expansion in the Middle East and India, Emirates Airline has renewed its contract with FedEx Express to provide the airline with supply-chain solutions for an additional three years.

The group will provide Emirates with transport solutions for their spare parts and flight operations supply chain. Automation is a central component of the new contract, with FedEx aiming to fully automate Emirates’ shipping needs by integrating its order processing for aircraft spares.

“We have worked with Emirates since 1990. FedEx continually evaluates and upgrades the services provided to customers and we firmly believe that this has helped our longstanding relationship with Emirates Airline move from strength to strength,” says Osman.

Emirates’ current fleet is comprised of 70 aircraft. This consists of Airbus A330-200s, A340-500s, Boeing 777-300s, 777-200s and 747-200/400 freighters.

Later this year, Emirates will receive the first of 45 A380 double-deckers on order, and over the next decade it expects to more than double its fleet size.

“FedEx will continue to support the smooth running of Emirates’ diverse and rapidly expanding fleet, coordinating the supply and delivery of spare parts for routine maintenance and, where necessary, emergencies in foreign ports,” says Osman.

“FedEx has been an important logistics partner for Emirates for almost as long as the airline has been in operation,” says Saeed Mohammed, Emirates’ vice president for procurement & logistics.

“FedEx has solutions for shipping requirements ensuring fast delivery of spare parts wherever and whenever required. Our service will continue to help Emirates maintain its fleet to the optimum standard to ensure a consistent level of service to our customers.”

Osman is extremely positive about the future of FedEx in the region and believes FedEx will play a strong part within the marketplace.

He says: “The transportation industry sector is growing in the Middle East and is benefiting from the booming economies the region has enjoyed for five years or so, especially in Dubai.”

He adds that Dubai Logistics City, a major global supply chain hub with opportunities to use multi-modal transport combinations from one locatioin, will make supply chain management more efficient and flexible.

“FedEx is looking forward to being a part of this next stage in the Middle East’s evolution,” concludes Osman.

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