French-headquartered general sales and service agent (GSSA) the ECS Group continues to grow its network with the latest expansion being in the Americas.
ECS Group chief operating officer, Adrien Thominet (pictured) explains it has been focusing heavily on South America and indeed the Americas in general. “We already had Brazil, and Mexico and have opened now in Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru so that is six countries,” Thominet says.
ECS won the contract to sell cargo for Qatar Airways Cargo, which started two weekly Boeing 777 Freighter flights in February from Doha via Luxembourg with stops at Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Quito in Ecuador before arriving in Miami.
“It is good as at the same time we extended the network we have a solid contract. We have very good guys there and the top managers there are very good,” Thominet says. He adds: “Qatar Airways is running two freighters a week, but they are planning on going for six flights a week and including Chile.”
Thominet notes that flowers, perishables in general and pharmaceuticals make up much of the goods, while it is trying to combine some cargo as flights are going via Miami.
He says: “Emirates is not there (South America) strongly and Etihad is not there and for Qatar it was an opportunity to be there immediately and it was decided in a little rush. Once they got the permit they immediately launched the flight so we had to be ready in time.”
2016 was a tough 12 months for the South American region as its leading economy Brazil struggled, and this year has started in the same vein. But Thominet has every confidence the region will pick-up and belives there are extensive opportunites.
He says: “It is a new market and a very interesting one and I strongly believe South America will be growing again in the future.”
For GSSAs though he explains that struggling markets actually benefit them and present them with more opportunities. “It is an opportunity for us because when the market is shaking or weak we have more opportunity to represent airlines as they need us, but when the market is good they do not need us as they do it themselves,” Thominet notes.
North America is also a strong focus and ECS joined forces in February with Canadian GSA Exp-Air Cargo to consolidate its position in the GSSA market across the Americas. “We made a strategy move and moved for Exp-Air Cargo – the leading GSA in Canada and that means all the Americas is covered. It is interesting for us,” Thominet says.
ECS is also growing in Europe and from 1 April its subsidiary Globe Air Cargo was appointed by Leisure Cargo as its GSSA in the Netherlands – giving shippers access to a global network of 14 airlines under one airway bill.
Asia is also now nicely covered as ECS started a contract on 22 October 2016 with Singapore-based airline Jetstar Asia, which includes 25 stations and ECS also won a GSSA deal in January this year to market, promote and sell cargo products on behalf of Finnair Cargo in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia, and extending the main deal in Singapore.
The future is certainly looking very bright for ECS as it gains a footprint in all corners of the globe and its aim of having global network coverage comes to fruition.