GSA: Poland looks into Asia


Markus Biber administers Finnair Cargo’s sales in five European countries, including the economically tenacious Poland.

Poland has remained resilient through Europe’s recent economic troubles, and the country’s export rates are expected to continue growing by more than five per cent annually for at least through the next decade. Many experts recommend for Polish industries to shift some of their export focus from Europe to Asia.  Finnair, which specialises in fast connections between Europe and Asia, provides a convenient cargo partner for Polish companies that need to deliver products such as machinery parts to the Far East.

Finnair Cargo’s operations in Poland are handled by Star Ways Airlines, a sales and service agency headquartered in Vienna, Austria. The agency is led by Markus Biber.

Biber, who has 23 years of industry experience, describes air cargo as an industry highly affected by changes in the economic climate. Due to the growth of Polish industries such as high-tech and the country’s reputation for economic endurance, he is optimistic about the future.

Customer connections

“We are in an industry with high operating costs and a sensitivity to external factors such as fuel costs and industry demands,” he says. “We have to make sure that we understand the needs of forwarding companies, optimise cargo space and manage revenue carefully.”

Biber spends most of his days meeting with customers. He also keeps close touch with managers at Star Ways offices in Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovenia to assist in pricing, handling possible discrepancy situations and keeping sales methods up to date. These responsibilities include plenty of travel days.

“Each day is so different – there are always new challenges and I’m always meeting new people,” he says.

Made in Poland

Machine and auto parts are among both Poland’s main exports and Finnair Cargo’s most frequently transported products. Roughly half of Poland’s exports still go into other EU countries, but expanding into markets such as China will allow the country to ensure the continuation of its good economic standing. Among the products whose export volumes to the Far East have been growing are electrical and automotive parts.

Biber points out that Poland’s large population, roughly 38 million, allows for high volumes of domestic production.

“Our big population helps us maintain a positive outlook,” he says. “Air cargo in Poland, of course, follows economic changes; demand for high-tech parts has been increasing, for example.”

Flexible eastern connections

Biber has worked closely with Finnair since taking on the position of Star Ways’ deputy director in 2010. He praises the airline for its flexibility, quick response times and friendly staff. Finnair’s connections to Asia have also been easy to market to new customers.

“Finnair is a top name in the industry,” he says. “It offers good freighter capacity and a tight network in Asia. Helsinki is also perfectly located in terms of flight times to the East.”

Warsaw treats

Markus Biber resides outside of Vienna with his wife, two teenage children and German shepherd, but travels back to Poland frequently for work.

He recommends that visitors to Warsaw sample traditional Polish cuisine at Polka, AleGoria and Różana, all of which take a creative approach to local fare, either with their philosophy, décor or cuisine.

On his free time, Biber likes to balance out his hectic schedule by staying put. “My hobbies are reading good books, skiing and spending time with my family,” he says.

By Laura Palotie

Published August 21, 2012

Category: Local features, Market updates, Finnair Cargo