GSSA market hots up in the Middle East

Singapore freight forwarders – Star Concord

Having operated in the Middle East since 2006, HAE serves as the GSSA to a number of key non-competing carriers. With its regional base in the United Arab Emirates, they have worked to cultivate relationships in multiple markets and with a variety of carriers.

“We believe demand will remain strong as the Middle East remains a hub for East and Northern Africa. We have gained business through our representation of Air Astana, Air Canada and DHL aviation, whose services continue to grow into 2023 and into 2024,” Andy Watson, Regional Director, UAE, Kenya & Egypt, explained. “The UAE continues to be a key hub for transhipment cargo despite some challenges of growing direct options operations from the subcontinent and Asia to EU.”

“We have seen increasing number of GSSA tenders. These include new entrants to the Middle market, return carriers and carriers looking to re-examine their options,” Watson outlined. “The experience we offer across full freighter intercontinental, regional and schedule passenger operations put us in an advantageous position in some cases.  Our local knowledge both operationally and commercially is of significant value.”

The Middle East will always be very competitive due to its position as an ideal hub to feed into Africa, the GCC and most destinations globally direct. The current market reflects this with a lot of the world’s largest carriers based in the region and others offering significant capacity to multiple destinations, with multiple rotations. 

“This makes maximising revenue and capacity extremely challenging on a week-to-week basis. Sea Air business remains the primary service and we are seeing volume slowly increasing ex ISC & Asia via the ME region, however we have seen developments with the traditional transit through the Region moving towards uplift direct from origin to destinations,” Watson continued.

Carriers and competiton

HAE credits its growing presence in this key trading hub to its approach of being the solutions provider to both the airline partner and the forwarding client. 

“History shows that it will be the most agile companies that offer the most options that prevail,” Watson said. “We believe and indeed have shown that GSSAs will be a digital distribution channel for multiple airline partners to access a territory’s potential customer base– a one stop shop for multiple service providers and offering API-type integration to as many service partners as possible for shipment options.”

HAE Group believes GSSAs’ responsibility will grow into dynamic pricing, capacity management.  They are actively trying to link a number of carriers inventory and network partners to maximise the return for the carrier and give the customer competitive options. 

“GSSAs will provide more services to the airline as well – examples are back office, data management services and finance and accounting – more carriers means more competition for GSSAs,” Watson said.

Operational drivers

Digitalisation will continue to be a key development within the airfreight industry, as innovation with technology are more widely embraced. The ability to develop in house systems and utilising access to airline and customers systems through API connections etc, will lead to efficiency both from an operational and commercial point of view.  

“Acknowledging the potential of technological innovation, HAE Group has taken steps towards digitalising its cargo operations with the introduction of cutting-edge solutions. By leveraging their Webportal and Quote Management System (QMS), HAE Group has transformed the way freight forwarding customers and airline partners interact, enabling real-time engagement, enhanced security, and streamlined processes,” Watson stated.

HAE Group’s Webportal seamlessly integrates with carrier systems through API connections and industry-standard protocols, including SITA messaging. This integration allows freight forwarding customers to access a range of benefits, including a personalised login, branded quotations from airlines, the ability to request spot rates, and confirm acceptance of quotes and terms and conditions. The Webportal facilitates efficient communication and collaboration between HAE Group and its customers, enabling swift and accurate response times.

Sustainability is also playing a crucial role in shaping GSSA operations by driving the adoption of environmentally-friendly practices across the business, reducing resource consumption and promoting responsible and ethical operations. 

“The HAE Forest initiative explicitly covers restoration of stressed environmental systems, maintains biodiversity, and creates social and financial benefits to local communities. Our staff have an opportunity to visit project sites, thus learning and creating links with local stakeholders. It also enriches our customer relations as everybody can engage through the virtual platform,” Watson added.

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Author: Edward Hardy