GSSA UK Air Liaison - People-power the key to success


A very challenging market: that is how Martin Short, Managing Director and founder of Manchester-based Air Liaison sums up the UK cargo scene.

"The consumer is seeking options like never before," says Air Liaison MD Martin Short. "Not just in price. Cross border trading also means that other EU gateways are trying to win cargo from the UK to support their networks. The customer demands the best possible rates on services where once the business would have been flown on a contract or tariff rate."

Air Liaison was recently appointed as Finnair’s GSSA for the whole of the UK, a step up from its previous regional responsibility, covering Northern Ireland, Scotland, Northern England and the Midlands.

"We are also thrilled to hear of Finnair Cargo’s EU freighter hub in Brussels and believe we have an excellent opportunity to re-launch Finnair in the UK, to grow the business and help Finnair gain market share."

Manchester born and bred

Short is a local "Manchester lad" and has worked in the air-freight business since 1967, with a spell at Finnair from 1977 to 1989, and he founded Air Liaison in 1991. He stresses the importance of the personal touch and attentive service in establishing successful business relations.

"The people are what drive our industry, from the entrepreneurs and corporate executives that lead their businesses through to the export-import clerks and operations staff."
Flexibility and adaptability are also crucial virtues in freight handling.

"Many variables including the weather, ATC, potential technical failure or operational issues can create challenges in our business. We are a service industry so it’s all about the people and how quickly you recover such situations."

Short’s well-established connections with Finnair are a clear advantage in making the partnership work.

"Culturally, life is very straightforward with Finnair and the management and staff are open and interested in their business. The management that support us and are directly responsible for us are accessible and understand our market, which is a huge advantage.  Finnair has always had a good reputation in the U.K. and the Helsinki hub works well, which makes our job a lot easier."

Active granddad

Family is central to Short’s life. He has two adult children and last year he became a proud grandfather, too.

"I am a keen, lifelong fan of Manchester United - I have a season ticket and attend as many games as I can. I am  also a keen clay pigeon shooter and collect historical war memorabilia. In my down time I like to relax and travel to our holiday home in Portugal whenever I can – the mobile reception is bad but the fishing is good!"

Theatre of Dreams

Martin Short barely hesitates when asked for his top recommendation to visitors to Manchester. "A visit to Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford, otherwise known as The Theatre of Dreams, to watch a game is an experience not to be missed," he says.

And the perfect Manchester day? "Take the tram to the city, enjoy a pub lunch followed by a cruise down the River Irwell to the stadium for the game. We are also very fortunate to live in Manchester as we have the beautiful Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales only an hour’s drive away."

"Manchester is not a huge city, but does have a diverse population of about 2.2 million in the Greater Manchester area. It’s the third most-visited city in the UK, after London and Edinburgh – so we must be doing something right!" 

Text byt Tim Bird

Published January 21, 2013

Category: Collaboration