GSA Korea: The Seoul of forward-looking cargo


KS Kim oversees Finnair Cargo’s sales in the surging South Korea by maintaining a solid team and keeping close watch on economic changes.

Finnair opened a direct route to Seoul in 2008, just as a new global recession was beginning to shake up economies around the world. South Korea, however, experienced only a small slump, and over the past four years its GDP growth has continued: cargo space on Finnair flights from Seoul has consequently been in high demand.

Consumer electronics make up a large part of South Korea’s economy, which some experts predict will surpass that of Japan in the next five years. Large electronics conglomerates Samsung and LG are headquartered here, and mobile phones and TVs are among the most common items travelling on Finnair flights from Seoul.

During her short time at Finnair Cargo's General Sales Agent Sharp Inc. KS Kim (pictured on the left) has focused on making sure that the company will continue to serve a growing economy into the future. Beyond working to fill cargo space on each flight, she has made it a priority to build a strong sales team and foster team spirit at the office.

Maintaining cargo demand

KS joined the Finnair team in August of 2011, after two decades of cargo experience at airlines including Cathay Pacific and Nippon Cargo Airlines.“I find the work challenging and interesting,” KS says. “A GSA has to focus strongly on both marketing and sales, and satisfy the needs of both the airline and the customers.”

Although more than half of Finnair’s cargo space from Seoul is taken up by regular clients and cargo holds on passenger flights are almost always filled to a maximum, KS says that reaching capacity on each flight still requires continuous work. South Korea itself avoided the recent recession, but economic difficulties in Europe have shown in exports. A small expected pickup in the global economy during the latter half of 2012, however, is predicted to translate into an increase in cargo demand. South Korea and the EU have a free trade agreement in place, and therefore, the cargo flows between the parties are likely to grow again when the economical situation improves. 

A spirited staff

A central part of KS’s daily work is overseeing the cooperation with a large group of forwarding agent customers. The communication with her staff goes beyond daily phone calls and interactions at the office. During her months as Finnair agent she has organised a marketing seminar as well as other activities too.

“I think we approach everything with a positive and passionate attitude. Getting together and working closely with one another gives us an advantage,” she says.

Moving to an e-era

KS also takes note of daily service aspects that could benefit from improvements and give Finnair an added competitive edge. She, for example, looks forward to seeing electronic documentation and other digital services become a more central part of air cargo. Finnair is in support of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) goal to have all air freight handled electronically by 2015, and began testing out an e-booking system a couple of year's ago.

“Adopting an e-booking service for South Korean cargo in the future will allow agents to easily access and share information without having to handle everything over the phone,” KS says.

Samplings of the Korean capital

Outside of the daily commotion of the office, KS relaxes by turning on some classical music at home. “I like to just listen without doing anything; Chopin is my favourite,” she says.

KS enjoys sharing her insider tips to Seoul, and documents her restaurant visits in a Korean-language photo blog ( ). For foreign travellers interested in exploring sceneries beyond the city, she recommends volcanic Jeju Island, which is accessible by a one-hour flight from Incheon airport and home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Her must-try local dish is Samgyeopsal, which is made of pork belly. Like many other Korean delicacies, this too goes well with soju, a popular alcoholic drink traditionally made of rice.

Text by Laura Palotie
Photo by iStockphoto

Published May 4, 2012

Category: Local features, Market updates, Finnair Cargo