GSA: Stewarding cargo sales in Japan


Nobuyuki Henmi’s long-spanning experience in the airline industry has taught him to strive for growth by prioritising innovation and communication.

Finnair Cargo has operated in Japan since the company launched a Helsinki to Tokyo route in 1983. Today Finnair transports about a million kilos of cargo to and from the country each month. European consumer goods, Nordic design and Norwegian salmon are among the products imported to Japan by air, while products from Japanese technology and automotive industries are flown abroad. 

As Finnair Cargo’s General Sales Agent, or GSA, Nobuyuki Henmi has been entrusted with the task of enhancing Finnair’s market presence in Japan and helping the company maintain sustainable business growth through both time-tested and new strategies. In his daily work he communicates with customers and Finnair Cargo's area director Yokoyama-san to make sure that cargo space on each flight is filled to capacity.

Communication is key

Henmi’s career in the industry spans 35 years, thus he has a very broad and experienced view of the Japanese cargo market and its trends. Before joining the Finnair Cargo team in 2010, he oversaw Air New Zealand’s cargo in Japan and Korea.

To Henmi, the GSA’s most important role is optimising Finnair’s route network and articulating the company’s strengths to partners and clients. “It’s also important that we develop new market initiatives by suggesting and implementing innovative ideas,” he adds.

One new strategy that has been put to practice since Henmi began his post has been the marketing of a Japan-Helsinki-New York route for North American customers. He adds that the environment at Finnair is conducive to the open sharing of ideas.

In order to stay on track with trends and maintain a strong presence in the local market, the GSA has teams representing Finnair Cargo in five major cities in Japan – Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Fukuyoka.

Remaining essential

An innovative attitude is especially crucial today, as air cargo continues to be vulnerable to the ongoing global uncertainty. Economic slumps reduce the demand for new imports, and the value of the yen against the US dollar and the euro has cut into profits from trade.

A need for internationally produced goods in an unprecedentedly interconnected world continues, however, and airlines can set themselves apart by providing efficient service and making use of time-optimised routes.

“Air cargo is an essential business in global trade and valued in terms of speed – with fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood, for example, being our commodities,” Henmi says, adding that participating in the transportation of products such as these increases an airline’s competitiveness.

“We need to continue to provide services that make us different from others,” he says.

Weekends on the green

Nobuyuki Henmi and his co-workers frequently gather outside of the office; playing a few rounds of golf on the weekend is a popular activity. Henmi’s favourite greenery is the fifty-year-old Narita Golf Course, located roughly an hour away from Tokyo and eight kilometres from the airport. 

Text by Laura Palotie
Photo by iStockphotos


Published April 23, 2012

Category: Local features, Finnair Cargo