Airfreight overweight – ITJ Interview

The founder of the forwarder Marinair, from Piraeus (Greece), an airfreight solutions specialist, underlines how crucial a global presence is for survival. The Dutch subsidiary of the WCA member has been accepted into the national forwarding association Fenex.

Your firm has two offices in Europe, one in Hong Kong and four in India, Mr Poutos – in some of the pandemic’s hotspots. How and when did government measures to contain the outbreak of Covid-19 impact your business most?

The impact was greatest during the most problematic period from a health point of view, that is between March and May, when markets not only faced unsta­ble and high air transport costs, but also totally different terms of cooperation as well as terms of payment, especially from air carriers. These issues created a really demanding business environment.

At the same time it was very tough to remain in operation, due to many em­ployees working remotely from home. It was very important for us that we al­ ready started a digitalisation scheme for working remotely in 2019. In the end this helped us to handle the needs of the mar­ket without any problems.

With what other tools did Marinair react?

Looking at the various modes of trans­ port, we can say that sea and rail trans­ port were definitely a safer choice for all the parties involved, to avoid big pressure from this situation and the high cost of air transport. On top of this our good knowledge of the markets as well as our extensive networks allowed us to handle the needs of the market and offer relevant transport solutions.

Taking a closer look at airfreight – how did Marinair contribute to the urgent need for personal protective equipment?

Marinair supported government mea­sures aimed at containing the outbreak of Covid­19 by handling the transport by air, mainly from the Far East to Europe, of around 295 t of equipment needed to contain the spread. At the same time we wanted to support the specific needs of the supply chain as much as possible.

What are the overall shares of the different modes of transport in your business activities, compared with the situation that prevailed before the crisis?

Traditionally air traffic’s share before the Covid­19 downturn accounted for 65% of our volumes, and sea transport for 35%. After the downturn triggered by Covid­19, air transport’s share rose again to more than 80% of our routing orders. Of course it’ll take some time for all organisations to re­ turn to normal distribution again, as it was before the Covid­19 period.

How have the economic and social conditions developed in Greece?

The economic and the social situ­ation in Greece is more or less the same as it is for other members of the EU. Of course, reactions to Covid­19 are a global issue, and every country is still trying to re­ cover from this. We assume it’ll take some months more to recover.

At the same time Greece has faced an ad­ditional problem on ac­count of the number of refugees arriving in the country from our neighbours. It’s been a difficult situation that the Greek government and society have reacted to
and handled well, all in all.

What are your expectations for business for the rest of the year?

I believe that the various markets will all still need quite a long time to improve. So this makes it all the more important in the present situation to continue to of­ fer cost­effective solutions in the supply chain, under safe and fair agreements for all parties involved.

The interview was originally published in the ITJ September issue (page 24)

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