Real deal for Cargo in Delhi


Pharmaceutical products and spare parts for motorbikes are among the diverse portfolio of goods filling the bellies of Finnair aircraft from the Indian capital, Delhi. 

Sameer Sabharwal, Finnair Cargo manager at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, describes his five years with Finnair as “a great journey” and one that he sees continuing in a positive direction. He attributes this to Finnair’s various advantages, the most significant of which is an excellent flow of information to the customer.

Finnair currently runs three weekly flights from Delhi’s IGI Airport using A330 wide-body aircraft to transport typical cargo payloads of between 15 and 20 tons. “In terms of cargo, we are able to fill the flights,” he says. “We’re operating in a niche market in northern India (where Delhi is located), and we have learned that if you want to compete you have to be able to provide that information flow.”

Specialty markets for Finnair from Delhi via Helsinki are Finland, other Scandinavian countries and North America. “We are the most competitive in the market for North America because of geographic factors.”

Sabharwal works with two colleagues in Delhi for online business, with Global Cargo Handling taking care of offline sales in the rest of India. “The traditionally strong source of cargo in northern India is the garment industry largely based in Punjab, but we didn’t want to be a single-commodity handler. Another significant source is the pharma industry based in Hyderabad in the southern state of Telangana.”

On form for Pharma

Finnair’s new state-of-the-art COOL Nordic Cargo hub terminal at Helsinki Airport will include features and facilities that take account of the special handling needs of the Pharma industry. Such facilities, most notably temperature control, are crucial if air cargo is to compete successfully with sea freight, and will cement Finnair’s position for this commodity.

“Just the same, we want to be able to compete with different industries,” says Sabharwal. “An example of this is spare parts for motorcycles to Chicago in the US. Chemicals and heavy machinery parts supplied from Mumbai are also significant.”

Sabharwal has been employed in aviation cargo for 18 years and observes that customers are especially keen to do business with Finnair. He returns to the theme of information flow as Finnair’s ace in the pack, combined with the ability to maintain full loads on the three-weekly flights.  “We make sure that the customer gets information at every stage of the process. The new terminal at Helsinki Airport is only going to improve this, and I see huge potential in India.”

Delhi delights

A ‘local boy’ or ‘Delhi Walla’, Sameer Sabharwal thrives on challenge. “This is what keeps me going,” he says, stating Indian classical music and other aspects of Indian culture as spare time interests. Here are some of his recommendations around Delhi:
  • Lotus Temple: “A Mother Temple for the Indian subcontinent.”
  • India Gate: “War memorial for 82,000 Indian army soldiers.”
  • Akshardham: “A spiritual cultural campus.”
  • National Museum: “One of the largest museums in India. From pre-history to modern era.”
  • Kingdom of Dreams: “India's first live entertainment, theater and leisure complex in Gurgaon.”
Text and photo by Tim Bird


Published May 12, 2016

Category: Local features