GSA Malaysia: on the grow


“A Hard Day’s Night” would make the perfect theme song for Finnair Cargo’s new global sales agent in Malaysia. 

The workday starts at 8 am for Saw ZhenMing, Country Manager of Tonnes Cargo Services, Finnair’s Malaysian GSA since July. First he processes urgent bookings to be flown out the same day. Next he handles routine business and attends meetings with customers. Returning at 5:30 pm, he prepares for the following day and wades through what is invariably a daunting mountain of emails. Work often continues after office hours with customer events, seminars and networking with industry people.

His long hours look set to grow even longer next May, when the opening of a new terminal promises to make Kuala Lumpur International one of the busiest aviation hubs in Southeast Asia. 
“Many premium carriers are already increasing their flight frequency to meet growing demand. There is significant room for Finnair to grow in this market. Malaysia’s FDI (foreign direct investment) ranking has consistently been in the Top 5 for the ASEAN region for the past decade,” says ZhenMing.  

Farm fresh

ZhenMing leads a team of ten professionals with lengthy experience in the local air freight market. The financial crisis of 2008 witnessed a sharp decline in demand for electronic and pharmaceutical exports, but the agriculture industry has sustained a steady growth rate for the past few years.
“The export of perishables will play a big part in the air cargo business in the near future. This will benefit online carriers that are able to offer the shortest transit time between origin and destination airport.”
Freight forwarders strive to minimize warehousing to avoid storage charges. 
“Exports are usually picked up from factories the same day. This is the main reason why bookings from Malaysia are customarily made 1–2 days prior to departure.”

Festive fever

Populated by Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and various other ethnic groups, Malaysia’s uniquely rich culture causes unusual headaches for exporters. 
“We have many celebrations throughout the calendar year. Factories are usually closed for 1–2 weeks during festive seasons, which significantly affects the air export industry.”
“Our current focus is to improve market awareness of Tonnes Cargo Services as the new GSA for Finnair Cargo.”

Eating local

Saw ZhenMing joined the air cargo industry as a fresh business and banking graduate in 2008. Ever since then, “personal time” is something he has enjoyed only on weekends. But even when unwinding, he is still thinking about business.
“I enjoy meeting new people to get a better picture of how different markets and industries are evolving.”
When asked to name Kuala Lumpur’s top unsung attractions, ZhenMing’s immediately mind turns to thoughts of food. 
“Bak Kut Teh (Pork-Rib Soup) is a must-try. Every expatriate in Kuala Lumpur falls in love with this Chinese dish.” 
Other treats are a local Malay dish called Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice) and a famous local Indian dish called Nasi Kandar (Banana-Leaf Rice). 
Not that ZhenMing fails to appreciate the scenic appeal of Kuala Lumpur: “Don’t miss Bukit Ampang Lookout Point. The view of the skyline is something you will remember for a long, long time.”
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Text by Silja Kudel

Published August 26, 2013

Category: Local features, Finnair Cargo