Johannesburg. South Africa’s largest metropolis has long been viewed as an important play- er in international commerce, benefiting from its location in the heart of one of the world’s strongest emerging economies. Witness the city’s impressive skyline – dotted with the office buildings of international firms – and you’ll quickly see the city’s role in facilitating regular business exchange between Africa, Europe, and the rest of the world. This, of course, is good news for the air cargo industry – where Johannesburg is a key African destination, and plays a strategically important role for South Africa and its neighbouring countries.
Swiss WorldCargo – Cars, Valuables, and Fruits
Swiss WorldCargo has long focused on the opportunities Johannesburg provides, first opening a station in 2002. Currently, six staff work in this office, focusing on a mix of sales steering, outdoor sales, and operations. Led by Country Manager Malachi Moyo, the team brings a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences to handle the broad range of requests which emerge every day and oversee the diverse import and exports which travel via South Africa throughout the world.
As the automotive sector is a vital part of the South African economy, exports of auto parts are a crucial focus for Swiss WorldCargo. Currently, almost sixty percent of Swiss WorldCargo exports from South Africa are auto parts, which then travel to factories around the world. But other goods – including valuables and perishables – also play a critical role.
Valuables are shipped from both South Africa and other countries in the region, after which they travel to global trade shows and retailers via Johannesburg. A one-stop connection to destinations such as Brussels and Geneva, combined with the SWISS Valuables product and demonstrated expertise in this area, make shipments in this upmarket segment particularly interesting for customers. And perishables, including mini-vegetables, fruits, and tuna, ex- ported from neighbouring countries Mozambique and Zimbabwe, benefit from the easy cross-border flow of goods to satisfy customers throughout the world.
On the import side, diverse goods make their way through Johannesburg and to neighbouring countries. Among these, various pharmaceutical products are shipped via Envirotainers. Temperature-controlled facilities within the cargo warehouse ensure that these products can then arrive safely and soundly.
Challenges and Strengths
A main challenge for Swiss WorldCargo is the sheer amount of competition. There are sever- al daily flights leaving Johannesburg to various European, American, and Asian destinations. Especially the U.S. is a tough market, as SWISS competes with carriers offering nonstop flights. However, the competition for capacity access is also one of Swiss WorldCargo’s most unique selling points. Currently, there is a competitive advantage in terms of timing – the flight arrives early in the morning from Zurich and is one of the last to leave Johannesburg at 19.25. With a later cut-off time than most airlines, it allows for XPS, QRT, and other shipments with a shorter tail-to-tail transfer time. Other USPs for Swiss WorldCargo come from the network – the varied European and global destinations of SWISS allow for the import and export of global products. Additionally, the SWISS subsidiary Edelweiss also operates a direct flight to Cape Town from Zurich. Despite seasonal variability, the flight is offered year round, and offers an impressive option to partner with customers from both locations and export throughout Europe. This allows for strategic perishable exports – such as nuts, berries, and fruits, to be sent via Cape Town onwards.
The warehouse of Swiss WorldCargo, located about 3 kilometres from the airport itself, also has distinct benefits. This includes state-of-the- art technology, allowing for direct offloading from trucks. Other features, including a smart gate system allowing for electronic scanning of products for size, dimension, and weight, alongside cooling storage facilities, ensures that all products can be effectively handled.
Of course, the success of the Johannesburg station may also be attributed to the Swiss work ethic which is noted throughout the station. The Johannesburg office is open on weekends and public holidays, remaining customer-focused seven days a week. And despite its multi-cultural, global approach, the office is dedicated to remaining firmly “Swiss” and promote core values such as safety, reliability, and punctuality in its handling and processes. In this way, Swiss WorldCargo is able to distinguish itself despite a tough marketplace and an abundance of com- petition.