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Zul Zooms From Ground Up

 |  July 02, 2012  |  |  Post a comment  |  

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We are sitting in the hotel at JFK, inside a newly renovated Hilton just off the main runways, right across from “The Conduit” (that’s what the locals call the roadway that separates the airport from a line up of high-rise hostelries). While it is nice to see one of these dowager lodgings get an update, it is even more stimulating to listen to an energetic young executive take a break from what appears to be a 24/7 effort building a global air cargo business

     Muhammed Zulkarnain (Zul, pronounced Zool), leisure Cargo Director in the Americas, drops by between customer calls and proclaims his assignment is “going great”—he is making friends and partners for the Düsseldorf-based cargo resource by offering shippers “a solid alternative in the air transportation business.”       His assignment, which commenced last year, involves handling the Northeast USA south to Maryland (“we are opening up two flights a week for our Condor summer service from BWI to FRA July 3”), west to Ohio, and everything up north all across Canada.
      “The most important aspects of what we do is staying close to the customer, watching every movement, and letting the shipper know that we are on the case 24/7,” Zul assures.
      “In fact, the secret to success in air cargo today, if there is one, is fairly simple:
      “You have to maintain good relationships (with customers & employees alike), and also exercise control over your sales and service team as well.
      “It’s vital that your team is consistent with its message to customers, which also means that sometimes you have to be willing to admit that you don’t know everything and must adapt; then you will have it.”
      leisure Cargo in Düsseldorf, Germany, has a name that sounds like a contradiction in air cargo terms.
      Ralf Rainer Ausländer, who founded the company (a solid part of a growing Air Berlin) in January 1, 2000, remains uncomplicated and comfortably situate at the helm of an important resource for an impressive and growing list of carriers whose business is, in the first instance, LCC, and almost everywhere else, touristic-based.
      Keeping it simple has been job one since this long-time cargo executive decided to focus exclusively on a market segment completely overlooked by everybody else.
      In a nutshell, the leisure Cargo GmbH original idea is to provide the 18 carriers it represents with full logistical know-how, from sales and handling contracts to road feeder services, on a worldwide or regional basis.
      But where the rubber meets the road, leisure (quite a compact, lean operation) has placed some dynamic first-rate logistics market specialists.
      That’s where people such as Eric Fraenkel, who handles Latin America and was profiled here recently, and Zul come in.
      Zul is from Malaysia and is part of a growing mobile population of internationalists that seem to always be on a flight going somewhere.
      He notes that he spends about a third of the month in the USA looking after accounts and the growing leisure Cargo/Air Berlin and Air Europa footprint here.
      “We have just put a customer service specialist named Dan Genjo here in New York.
      “Our cargo into JFK for both Air Berlin and leisure Cargo partner carrier Air Europa is handled by China Airlines.
      “Dan will look after our business day to day, and of course the new Condor services into BWI as well.
      “Air Berlin A330-200s offer a daily flight with cargo lift and super fast connections from JFK to both DUS and BER. 
      “Air Europa flies into New York seven times a week and their A330-200s can carry 18 tons of cargo.” 
      For Zul, the USA post is a return of sorts; he lived in America during his college days, receiving his education at University of Buffalo before returning home to enter the family business. His father, Zainal Abidin Bin Abdul Kapur, is a well-known and much respected transportation specialist from Malaysia who had built ABDA Aviation Sdn Bhd into a major GSSA operation, serving Aeroflot Malaysian Air and others.
      ABDA has enjoyed a relationship with leisure dating back to when the company began, so the move for Zul into the business naturally evolved with his stationing in America.
      “Transportation is in my blood and as my education was gained, I suppose I learned as much from the teachings of my father as from anywhere else.
      “Looking at business, 2011 was quite a good year, but 2012 is turning out to be a very different picture.
      “Business was all right from January through April 2012, but was particularly lean in May and is recovering during this June period.
      “What that means to us goes along with what Ralf has often said.
      “We don’t have a crystal ball to predict what will drive world markets up or down, but we can control staying close to our customers, and offering our product on a straightforward basis at the best rate while keeping the process simple.
      “Because we are a tight-knit group at leisure, we can react to market conditions very quickly, and with flexibility and control.
      “We cut to the chase; you have cargo, we have lift, let’s work rates—forwarders appreciate that from us.
      “For my experience, it all comes down to price and relationships.”
      In addition to the USA and Canada, Zul also carries responsibilities as Group Director for all ABDA sales activities elsewhere in the world.
      “I cover several countries in the Middle East, India, and Pakistan, excluding Africa.
      “As a result of the solid relationship between leisure and ABDA, we teamed up to combine our services via Gateway Istanbul, which launched on June 29 at IST, with both Mr. Ralf and Mr. Zainul in attendance to kick things off.”
      Looking ahead, Team leisure Cargo is ramping up efforts to both attend and display at the TIACA Forum, set to be held this October in Atlanta, Georgia.
      “We are excited at the possibility of meeting the supply chain logistics people that will attend that event and have the benefit of getting to know us as well.
      “leisure is driven by a love of the business; we are young, agile and ready to grow with others,” Zul said.

Tags: leisure cargo, leisure, cargo

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