GSA Sweden: Cargo is a people business


“Selling like a hungry alligator is not my style. Customer relations must be built up slowly,” says Josef Cordoba, who brings three decades of insider savvy to the Finnair Cargo sales force.

There is a relaxed, jovial rapport between Josef Cordoba, sales manager at Air Cargo Services (ACS) and his new colleague at Finnair, Pasi Nopanen, sales director for the US and Scandinavia. The two have formed a close-knit bond since Finnair Cargo closed its Swedish sales office and appointed ACS as its Global Sales Agent (GSA) on November 1, 2014.

“We have spent the past two weeks traveling together, meeting clients and getting to know each other. I’ve seen more of Josef than of my wife lately,” jokes Nopanen.

The affinity is clearly mutual. “From the very first handshake, it has been a pleasure working with Pasi. We complement each other. He shares knowledge about Finnair and I about the market,” says Cordoba.

Delegating sales to ACS was a logical part of Finnair Cargo’s strategy to cut costs and get closer to its customers, especially since ACS already had a successful six-year track record of handling Finnair bookings.  

“Our own sales team did a great job, but I’m confident that this cooperation will bring us fresh market insight. Five minutes with Josef taught me more about the Swedish market than two years of studying reports,” says Nopanen.

It is who you know

Describing Cordoba as “a real people person”, Nopanen is delighted to be working with such a well-connected professional. “With 27 years’ experience in the air industry, he knows everyone.”

Cordoba modestly agrees that one-on-one communication is his strong suit. “I love what I do, and I take time building good relations. In this business, you need good listening skills. I genuinely want to make life easier for our customers.”

His typical day begins at 6:15 a.m. with a workout at the gym, followed by a 45-kilometer commute from Uppsala to Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, where he heads a team of six. He always arrives half an hour early to check mails, review the past day and analyze statistics and reports for new sales opportunities. 

“I basically go flat out for the next 12 hours. Every workday is packed with a hectic agenda of calls and customer visits. I also make a point of constantly updating our staff and keeping every promise.”

Strength in diversity

Sweden is a highly appealing market for Finnair Cargo thanks to its diverse industrial landscape, which spans from automotive products and mobile phones to pharmaceuticals and fashion.

“That’s the great thing about Sweden – the variety makes it less vulnerable to fluctuation. And being so close to Arlanda makes it easy for us to build solutions to our Helsinki hub and onwards,” says Nopanen.

Shanghai is the top destination for cargo shipped from Sweden, followed closely by New York. The highest volumes are in general cargo, but Finnair hopes to also make a mark in high-yield specialty niches such as pharmaceuticals and other temperature-controlled goods. 

Cordoba points out that not even the robust Swedish market is never completely immune to seasonal fluctuation. “The year started well, but business flattened out after May. I’m nevertheless confident that Finnair will remain a key player in the local air freight industry. We are thrilled to have been invited to represent a brand that is so well-recognized in Sweden.”

Josef Cordoba

Bilingual Swede born to Spanish parents. 

Married, son 20, daughter 18.

Insider tip for travelers visiting Uppsala:
“We have a lively pub scene. The Churchill Arms is great for specialty beers and malt whiskeys.”


Text by Silja Kudel

Published November 19, 2014

Category: Local features, Finnair Cargo