The answer??? Probably a little of both.
Let me give you just a brief look at the “good old days” at the airport operations.
When I tell friends, relatives and business associates that I started at a entry level position with the airlines, I mean entry level.?? We cleaned airplanes, restocked supplies, checked oil and fuel levels and added oil or gas as required.?? Once these chores were completed, we could turn our attention to pre-planning and pre-loading all the overnight aircraft that would be departing early that morning.?? Remember, no containerization, so the old L-1049 Constellations and DC-7’s had to be hand loaded and placed into specific bins in the belly of the aircraft.?? Those locations and what was in them, was then wired to the applicable destination station so they would know where to look for their cargo.
Because Eastern Airlines, at the Cincinnati Airport (which by the way is located in Kentucky) was designated a Class “C” Station, which meant it was manned completely by non-union personnel.?? Because it was a class “C” station, we were required to wear a dress uniform as opposed to the commonly seen airline coveralls for ramp personnel.?? Imagine spending an eight hour shift loading and unloading airplanes in a dress uniform.?? We were young and inexperienced and really didn’t know any better…We just did what we were told to do!
Though I did not realize it at the time, I was getting a wealth of inside information and building a solid foundation that one day would give me the knowledge to one day be a part of airline management.
I say much of this to point out that a lot of corporate airfreight management is/was intrusted to men and women who have little or no operational experience.?? Some are hired for their sales experience and they lack the hands-on experience of working and then managing an airfreight operation.
Until some airline hires, trains and makes a substantial commitment and financial investment to market the airfreight product they are doomed to continue to repeat the same mistakes.?? But wait a minute, a couple of airlines may have already done exactly that!
The airline names??? UPS and FedEx.
Shame on the commercial airlines!?? They, by their lack of foresight stood by and watched those two companies who carry no passengers and specialize in providing door-to-door service on a national basis.?? I can remember when UPS was chartering DC8’s from Seaboard World Airways with overnight charters to meet their next day commitments.
UPS and FedEx have captured a very, very big market, primarily because the airlines lacked a vision, interest or ability to see what a big financial potential the airfreight market presented.
The next leg of the journey, we’ll take a look at the 727QC operation.