With their first anniversary approaching, ACW caught up with Simon Watson, co-director of CharterSync, to see how the cargo chartering system has been received in its first months.
CharterSync’s rollercoaster year ACW: So, CharterSync turns one soon, how has the first year treated you? THE last year has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions for myself, and Ed Gillett. On reflection, we launched our business in what has been a very quiet market as a result of both Brexit and current global trade tensions. We have been met by strong headwinds from “traditional” competitors employing at times interesting and somewhat amusing tactics to try and slow our progress. Despite everything that has stood in front of us our company has grown at an incredible rate, with traction building from both new customers and airlines. Keen to focus on the small cargo charter market within Europe initially, we now have every key airline within Europe using our system and available to our customers for charter below 20 tonnes payload. We have a number of global top ten forwarders using our system, providing them with the most innovative technology at their fingertips. We went live 9 months ago and we can’t wait to see what the next 9 months will bring. ACW: How have you and Ed found the first year personally, stressful? Sleepless? Rewarding? IT has been an incredibly rewarding experience so far, bringing much needed transparency and innovation to an industry that hasn’t moved on much in the last 20 years from emails and fax machines. Allowing customers to break free from inefficient and archaic processes and see first-hand the effect it has on the end customer has been a great experience. We have only just started our journey and we have a long way to go but I can’t wait to see what the future holds for CharterSync as we bring the cargo charter industry into the 21st century. ACW: And how has it been juggling managing the business
ACW 27 APRIL 2020
and still piloting? WE only fly on a very infrequent basis but getting up in the air allows us to occasionally break out of the office environment and stay up to date with any changes in the aviation sector. ACW: What about the COVID-19 pandemic, how has this affected business? COVID-19 has had a mixed impact on cargo charters around the world. Whilst the traditional automotive manufacturers supply chains slow down due to plant closures, we have seen an incredible increase in demand for humanitarian, medical and aid relief flights, which we are currently performing on behalf of a number of governments around the world.
As automotive manufacturers brought forward plant closures, urgent Go-Now flights ramped up whilst simultaneously the scheduled freighter capacity reduced on key airfreight routes from China which resulted in our busiest day of trading since launch. ACW: Have there been any unexpected problems with the sudden increase in demand? FOR intra-European flights our charter platform comes into its own when the market becomes busy. With the price procurement process taking place automatically the system does the hard work, allowing the team to provide options to clients quickly. ACW: How are you keeping an edge on the competition? Being a tech disruptor with an innovative platform we are in the fortunate position where we don’t have any direct competition in the marketplace. Our system isn’t just a “database of aircraft” or a “job-listing site”, both the commercial and operations team of
each airline are fully trained to use our system.
The combination of an easy-to-use interface and process flow allows our system to retrieve options in as little as one minute. Our fast response time and end-to-end management of each charter provides our customers with an unparalleled service driven by leading technology and supported with a knowledgeable team. ACW: Have you any strategic plans for developments to the platform? FROM going live in July last year we spent eight months analysing customer, airline and marketplace behaviour. When you bring a product to market like ours, it is crucial to understand what your customers want, what their problems are and how they are interacting with the product.
From there we look at how we solve those problems and how we can add value to both our suppliers and customers, making their lives easier and increasing their own productivity internally. We are only at the start of our journey and we will be releasing some large changes to our system over the coming year that will enhance our customers’ experience when chartering an aircraft with us. ACW: What about the future, is the business scalable? RECENTLY on a single day one member of our operations team managed over 30 open charter requests from a number of different customers over a 60 minute period, the majority of which went on to confirm. The 30:1 ratio has demonstrated to us that we are proving a scalable business model for the future, operating at levels that traditional methods would struggle to achieve.