ECS to meet airline flexibility with augmented GSA concept

Image source: ECS Group

The ECS Group’s new executive chairman Adrien Thominet believes the air cargo industry is at a crossroads, with the pandemic driving airlines to become increasingly flexible.

Thominet tells Air Cargo News that in order to reflect its customers’ needs for flexible solutions, ECS has developed what it has labelled an augmented GSA concept.

The concept is based around the idea of offering airlines a suite of services that they can pick and choose from to suit their needs, instead of offering a one-size fits all solution.

He likens the idea to the way airlines today offer the opportunity to add a range of extra services –  fast-boarding, hotels, hire cars, extra leg room etc – to a standard seat booking.

The concept is based around four pillars: GSA services; abilities; technology and sustainability.

The GSA option is the standard service you would expect from an agent.

Abilities are a range of services that can be selected in addition to the standard GSA pillar. This includes: consultancy, outplacement solutions, mail and e-commerce expertise, revenue management optimisation, quality and security dedicated solutions, back office and data capture solutions, marketing and Communication, a specific department for total cargo management services and a freight forwarders programme.

The technology pillar includes track and trace, quotation tools, e-booking and business intelligence.

ECS’ sustainability programme, which will be launched by the end of the year, will be built around environment, diversity – including having more female representation on the board – and corporate social responsibility.

Thominet explains: “We have the core business and around that we have augmented the set of services and solutions that we promote to our partners and airlines.”

He added: “Remaining a small GSA or local hero will become increasingly complicated – airlines require more and more digital tools, they need more financial backing, they increasingly need to outsource solutions and this is where we want to appear as a strong player, by having the agility to adapt our solutions to the new needs of the industry.

“The idea is to be like a mirror to what airlines are doing today. I think that airlines need to outsource more services than only their sales.

“We want to be able to give them solutions to outsource. If you take just the data capture, I don’t believe that in the long term the airlines will need to keep the data capture system internal because it is just a cost centre to them. ECS will provide a solution with a known brand.”

Thominet also outlines how the air cargo sector has changed over the last 18 months as a result of the pandemic.

Forwarders, he says, have been increasingly looking to utilise charter operations in order to provide more stable supply chains.

To meet this need ECS has been able to offer its airline customers’ unused passenger aircraft for cargo charter operations.

The use of digital solutions has also been on the rise during the pandemic.

Says Thominet: “The mid-sized airlines are facing their own financial stress and struggles and they don’t necessarily have the capacity to invest in big business intelligence tools or booking platforms.

“This is where I believe ECS can help them. We can provide them with what we have created internally and we can create a tailor made solution for them.”

The ECS Group has expanded over the last few years through both organic growth and acquisitions and Thominet says this strategy will continue.

He says being able to provide global solutions is increasingly important.

“We still need to complete our network in some areas of the world like North East Asia,” Thominet explains.

“Maybe the post-Covid situation will give us opportunities with local players where maybe they will have a reciprocal interest to be attached to a big group like us.

“We can provide tools, synergies and financial back-up so I think there will still be a lot of acquisition opportunities in niche markets.”

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