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Fri 20 Feb 2009 04:00 AM

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In-flight education

UPS has recently expanded its air hub in Cologne, Germany. John Tansey, UAE country manager explains how this facility can be used to educate the Middle East air cargo industry.

UPS has recently expanded its air hub in Cologne, Germany. John Tansey, UAE country manager explains how this facility can be used to educate the Middle East air cargo industry.

How can UPS benefit Middle East clients?

I think the company is able to deliver with its approach to the supply chain. It can go into the chain at any level, whether it is the movement of a document, a domestic parcel, an international parcel, a piece of freight, sea cargo air cargo or 3PL type activity.

I think the Cologne hub is the type of rolemodel that should be examined by logisticsprofessionals from the Middle East region.

We can work in either a local, regional or international capacity and our customers can understand at any time where their package is. We can enable them to do business confidently, cost-effectively and in the way that they want, because there is enormous flexibility in the service levels we provide.

Why did you decide to build a facility in Cologne, Germany?

Our company likes to keep as many packages on the ground as possible to keep costs down. Cargo can come in from the Middle East and then a truck can deliver it from Cologne to the Netherlands or Austria, for example, because of the hub's central location.

Not only does the city have good weather conditions, there is also room for expansion at the hub. In addition, we have the capability to work throughout the night, which is crucial as our planes arrive at 11pm and by 1am we expect 38 aircraft to be on the apron.

Our planes are then loaded with packages and at 5am the last plane takes off, ready for everyone to start afresh on a new day.

How can you educate Middle East clients about the benefits of your new processes?

A picture paints a thousand words. So what we need to do in the Middle East is bring exposure to companies and awareness to people in the region. Our air hub in Cologne is a perfect example of how we can manage our business in and out of Europe and it shows how we interconnect globally. And, in a smaller way, we can do the same thing with the Dubai hub.

The interface of the technology, the customer, the service provider, the airline and the ability to show the description of the goods electronically, all show a best-in-class environment.

My point is that if this process can work in an economic bloc like Europe, there's no reason why it can't work here. As the GCC evolves into a similar bloc, I think the Cologne hub is the sort of role model that should be examined by logistics professionals from this region.

For example, the German facility is a paperless environment and documents are checked electronically. We decided to expand in 2006 because we have had almost 10 years of continuous growth (export annual growth rate 15%) and we needed to be in a position to keep up with customer demand.

The Middle East is some way behind on the technology side of things, but this is the kind of problem that can always be solved by education.

How do you plan to reduce carbon emissions with the cargo planes you are flying out globally?

The company is actively working to reduce its carbon footprint and you can see this in the US with the electric cars that UPS is now using for its package deliveries.

We also look at how our recycling efforts can set at an example. From an airline perspective, fuel efficiency is always at forefront of our thinking.

  What are your future plans for this region?

Previously we had three MD-11s going outbound from Cologne. One flight went to Shanghai and Korea, the second to Hong Kong and Dubai and the third went to Singapore.

We recently introduced a Boeing 747-400, which can carry 19,000 packages, to replace this MD-11. Instead of using additional aircraft we wanted to upsize them in order to increase capacity.

Last July, we also introduced a pre-defined tariff that enables clients to import goods more easily into the Middle East. This region is beginning to be a significant import market and now that we have launched this service we can easily understand our tariffs and types of transit.

This year we will be concentrating on solutions for our customers and there is scope for us to see a reasonable growth. People always ask why we aren't building new facilities but we want to grow and make more money. In Dubai people think you aren't doing well if you aren't getting bigger.

We want to keep operations more or less the same, continuing with the services that we have in play and working towards efficiency, controlling costs, and delivering a great result for our customers.

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