As Czech Airlines mark their 100th anniversary, Czech Airlines Cargo continues to chart a course towards a brighter future, guided by a commitment to excellence and embracing change. For Air Cargo Management, Dalibor Zeman, cargo manager at Czech Airlines, explains more.
Czech Airlines is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023. At the very inception of our company, the transportation of goods and mail formed the cornerstone of our operations.
As time has progressed, so too have the expectations surrounding the quality of service, technological advancements, access to information, and sustainability.
The air freight industry has faced, and continues to endure, a challenging period. The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to air transportation, leaving a profound impact. Just as our company was beginning to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, the conflict in Ukraine emerged, severely affecting our cargo operations by disrupting two of our strongest markets.
However, we have successfully navigated these challenges. During the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, when flights were largely grounded, we provided our clients with a crucial service primarily relying on road feeder services.
Similarly, in response to the Ukrainian conflict, we swiftly redirected our business activities to alternative markets, thereby offering our clients fresh opportunities. Our ability to achieve this would not have been possible without our dedicated team of experienced specialists whom we have retained within the company.
Collaborations and partnerships
Czech Airlines Cargo’s reach extends beyond serving our own flights. We are the General Sales & Service Agents (GSSAs) for the Czech airline Smartwings, and we provide sales agent services for Delta International Airlines as part of the SkyTeam alliance. In addition, we have previously collaborated closely with Ukraine International and Korean Airlines. Through these partnerships, we have established robust road feeder service networks.
Prague’s strategic location at the heart of Europe, coupled with lower costs compared to competitors in western regions, provides us with a compelling advantage. This advantage benefits not only us but also our online and offline partners within our network.
Currently, we operate cargo services to over 20 stations accessible via both A320 and B737 operated flights, in addition to a network of truck-operated destinations, primarily in Europe. Moreover, we offer transportation services to Africa and the Middle East.
In the upcoming winter schedule, we are not only resuming services to some of our legacy markets in Armenia and Egypt but are also, for the first time in modern Czech Airlines Cargo history, in collaboration with Smartwings Group, opening a cargo station in Kenya.
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Swift and secure shipments
With our fleet structure, we specialise in handling smaller shipments, providing expedited service. Prague, serving as the main hub of our operations, enables us to transit shipments swiftly and securely, thanks to a modern and dedicated team of handling service providers. This capability positions us to compete effectively against industry giants.
From the initial inquiry of our clients or GSAs (General Sales Agents), we have established streamlined processes to ensure rapid responses to their queries. We are continuously working with our software vendor to enhance efficiency, striving for real-time responses through online interfaces that connect our business partners’ applications with our software.
However, clients can always rely on our availability for personal interactions until artificial intelligence (AI) reaches a level where it can answer even the most challenging questions.
The transformation of the global economy, shifts in security dynamics not only in Europe but worldwide, and the evolving demands that accompany these changes also impact us. We closely monitor our clients’ last-mile delivery requirements and are actively taking steps in that direction to fulfil all our clients’ needs. Surprisingly, one of our initial pilot projects is taking place in Ukraine.
The trend towards digitalisation and the need for immediate shipping information availability are critical elements for our future development.
Last year, Czech Airlines Cargo transitioned to a new operational system supplier, providing us with a modern, highly modular system. Adapting this system to cater to the needs of both carriers and clients is paramount for fostering effective communication between carriers and agents. The Skyline system is part of a family of intercommunicating systems that facilitate communication between carriers, freight forwarders, and handling companies.
At the same time, we have implemented an interface that involves other company applications and streamlines communication with partners and suppliers. This system significantly enhances overall cargo efficiency. Its use of modern technologies ensures our readiness for the evolving landscape of communication, aligning with the demands of IATA members in various digitalisation and interconnection projects across the air transport logistics chain.
Thinking of the planet
Amidst discussions of challenging times, including the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing conflicts, we must also consider the future of our planet and environment. The adverse impact of civilisation on the environment is a challenge we must all face.
The first crucial step is responsible resource management. Consolidation isn’t solely essential in the context of air transport; we must also collaborate more effectively with clients and suppliers to maximise operational efficiency.
The future imposes significant demands and challenges on our small yet dedicated team, which we are committed to meeting successfully, with a deep sense of pride in our company’s 100-year history.