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Quality counts.

Perishalbes for Europe by Venus International Transport from Egypt.

International Airport Cairo, March 8, 1 p.m. The MD-11 freighter from Lufthansa Cargo has arrived punctually. The cargo for the onward flight to Sharjah and from there back to Frankfurt is already standing on the apron: two pallets of fresh lettuce from Alexandria for a customer in Saudi Arabia and a total of seven containers of hanging garments for Harrods in London.

The handling staff is working quickly and precisely. The MD-11 is unloaded: mainly pharmaceuticals and chemical products, equipment for oil drilling companies and high-quality industrial goods are imported to Egypt as airfreight. Then the lettuce and garments go on board – the freighter is airborne again after just one-and-a-half hours on the ground.

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“It is this perfectly functioning system and the commitment to the business that I rate most highly about Lufthansa Cargo,” says Samia El Sayed. “For me, this means quality.” She has responsibility for the entire cargo that has just been loaded into the MD-11 at Cairo. Samia El Sayed founded her company Venus International Transport 26 years ago.

Today, Venus is Egypt’s leading airfreight forwarder, with an annual export volume of 40,000 to 45,000 tons and over 60 employees. At the company’s inception, Samia El Sayed was a pioneer in the airfreight industry organized on a private enterprise basis. Venus is still the only Egyptian player that charters freighters itself. Fresh fruit and vegetables, mainly for the European market, account for 85 percent of the turnover.

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“Only one thing counts in this business and that’s quality,” says Samia El Sayed. The freshness of the goods is the decisive sales argument for most agricultural products from Egypt – whether it’s strawberries, grapes, green beans, peppers, spring onions or cherry tomatoes. “The refrigeration chain must not be interrupted at any point, and, above all, everything has to move fast,” the businesswoman stresses.

In the most important markets in the Netherlands, France, the UK and Germany, Egyptian fruit and vegetables are only competitive vis-à-vis European produce for a short time due to the higher transportation costs. The season lasts from the pre-Christmas period to the beginning of June at the longest.

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For Lufthansa Cargo too, quality is the decisive sales criterion in Egypt. “We have a highly efficient team of eleven committed and excellently qualified employees here,” says Dieter Olker. Since October 2011, he has been General Manager for North and Northeast Africa. “Our customers know that we deliver quality, that we master our processes and that we bring along the necessary know-how. And we can be contacted 24 hours a day.”

Network flexibility and adjustment to the requirements of the sensitive perishables business are also advantages. “In December and January, we routed 14 freighters via Cairo in order to meet the demand, above all, for strawberries and green beans,” says Olker. High specialization, he adds, is a further unique selling proposition.

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“Live animals, for example, or valuable cargo – we’re the only ones who can do that in Cairo.”

For Lufthansa Cargo, Venus International Transport is by far the most important customer in Egypt. And the two companies are united by a shared success story, which began with a quality leap. “Right from the start, I dreamed of a cold storage warehouse, and I also told everybody about my dream,” Samia El Sayed recalls. “After hearing about this, the Lufthansa man responsible in Cairo obtained a visa for Germany for me within two days and showed me the Perishables Center in Frankfurt. It then took me another five years trying hard to persuade trade associations and government authorities before we had finally also built a cold storage warehouse at Cairo Airport.”

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Every type of fruit and vegetable requires its own temperature between zero and ten degrees Celsius. “Green beans in particular are very sensitive,” explains Samia El Sayed. “The quality deteriorates considerably within just a few days. They are the only vegetable that is still impossible to transport as sea freight.” With Lufthansa Cargo, she knows that her sensitive freight is in good hands. “The people there always keep an eye on careful handling, and they check the goods that have been delivered by refrigerated trucks at the airport. What is more, I know for sure: Lufthansa Cargo is punctual!”

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For Lufthansa Cargo, however, there are already indications of a slight recovery. In addition to the two weekly freighter flights via Sharjah, Lufthansa Cargo has started to operate a scheduled freighter directly to Frankfurt on Mondays, Lufthansa passenger aircraft have again been flying to Frankfurt twice daily since March, and there are four weekly flights to Munich plus capacities of Austrian Airlines. For Dieter Olker the matter is clear: “In times of crisis there is only one maxim: Build unquestioningly on quality.”

5 questions to Samia El Sayed.

What are your company’s most important quality characteristics?
A distinctive sense of responsibility and the dedication to what we do. And a strong woman!

What do you regard as the signs of a good cargo airline?
When difficulties occur, the airline must find a solution. The system at Lufthansa Cargo is thoroughly professional and the attitude of the people there is always positive.

Which product or which service outside of the cargo world is characterized by special quality?
A Mercedes! I drive one myself. In addition, I love the perfection of classic Egyptian music.
    
What does quality of life mean for you?
To love people. To see a family grow. Being willing to always learn. Spirituality. And, in particular as an entrepreneur, to be aware of one’s responsibility to society.

What are your own personal qualities? 
I am a responsible, emotional, tolerant and dedicated person. It is my conviction that there is no humanity without giving to others and helping.

5 questions to Samia El Sayed.

What are your company’s most important quality characteristics?
A distinctive sense of responsibility and the dedication to what we do. And a strong woman!

What do you regard as the signs of a good cargo airline?
When difficulties occur, the airline must find a solution. The system at Lufthansa Cargo is thoroughly professional and the attitude of the people there is always positive.

Which product or which service outside of the cargo world is characterized by special quality?
A Mercedes! I drive one myself. In addition, I love the perfection of classic Egyptian music.

What does quality of life mean for you?
To love people. To see a family grow. Being willing to always learn. Spirituality. And, in particular as an entrepreneur, to be aware of one’s responsibility to society.

What are your own personal qualities? 
I am a responsible, emotional, tolerant and dedicated person. It is my conviction that there is no humanity without giving to others and helping.

 

5 questions to Dieter Olker.

What are your company’s most important quality characteristics?
Above all, the team spirit, the professionalism and the product know-how of the employees. This is all rooted in good qualifications and regular training.

What do you regard as the signs of a good cargo airline?
In addition to personal commitment and the ability of the employees, punctuality.

Which product or which service outside of the cargo world is characterized by special quality?
The Audi Q5 and Swiss watches, whose precision and quality fascinate me.
    
What does quality of life mean for you?
That my family feels good. And that I have enough time to myself and a balance, for example, through holidays, sport and my hobby, photography.

What are your own personal qualities?
I am open to other cultures and generous. I always try to keep my promises. I fight resolutely for my customers and pursue their goals. I don’t give up that easily.

Photos:

Shawn Baldwin

planet 1/2012

5 questions to Dieter Olker.

What are your company’s most important quality characteristics?
Above all, the team spirit, the professionalism and the product know-how of the employees. This is all rooted in good qualifications and regular training.

What do you regard as the signs of a good cargo airline?
In addition to personal commitment and the ability of the employees, punctuality.

Which product or which service outside of the cargo world is characterized by special quality?
The Audi Q5 and Swiss watches, whose precision and quality fascinate me.

What does quality of life mean for you?
That my family feels good. And that I have enough time to myself and a balance, for example, through holidays, sport and my hobby, photography.

What are your own personal qualities?
I am open to other cultures and generous. I always try to keep my promises. I fight resolutely for my customers and pursue their goals. I don’t give up that easily.

 

Photos:

Shawn Baldwin

planet 1/2012