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British Airways has a certain reputation in the UK and beyond. It is not known for friendly, outgoing public relations skills, and when I first started writing about the airline industry (a rather long time ago), trying to get an interview with anyone at the carrier was akin to attempting to get one with Bill Clinton, then US president.

It had a particularly thorny relationship with the trade press. “You just don’t put bums on seats,” they’d say. So while editing Airfinance Journal, whose main readership is the banking industry, (and yet another request to interview the odious Bob Ayling had been turned down, combined with some spectacularly poor PR and marketing on BA’s part, and a little chutzpah on ours) we broke the tradition of an eye-catching but neutral front cover photo and instead put up a picture of its then-shockingly declining share price on the magazine cover. (It remains a favourite front cover to this day.)

It has taken a long time for things to change. In fact it can still take, at the last count, three months to get an answer to a question from BAWC. But finally, after a request that had loitered for some time, the amiable Steve Gunning – a busy man – found the time.

And you can’t help but forgive. The new chairman of IATA’s Cargo Committee, who also has a onerous workload integrating Iberia Cargo and now BMI Cargo into the IAG fold, is clearly a doer, not a talker. This can only be a good thing for both IATA and IAG Cargo.

Famously press-shy, Gunning says he would rather be working than doing interviews; that what he is really interested in is “getting things done”. “Last year was great,” he says. One wonders how many chiefs would say that about a year in which they had to integrate two complex cargo operations while also leading the attempt to drive efficiencies in the industry as a whole. And now he has to start all over again with BMI – and whoever else makes it on to IAG’s ‘shopping list’. But he looks excited, rather than daunted. Fresh, rather than tired.

The air cargo industry needs – and has – a diverse group of people to drive it forward. Some will have the vision, some will inspire, some will lead and some will drive. Gunning is a sleeves-rolled-up kind of man, let’s-get-on-with-the-job-in-hand.

When he first arrived in cargo in 2007 from BA’s finance department, observers thought he was going to be one of those executives, pushed into cargo to widen their CVs, before heading back into the more highly sought-after positions in the passenger division, as often happens with some legacy carriers (see Lufthansa). But he’s still there, and more involved in cargo than might be healthy for someone with one eye on passengers. So, does that mean he’s a cargo man now?  “I’ve no intention of doing something else,” he says. “I’ve had a terrific opportunity to build something here at IAG Cargo. So if that makes me a cargo man, I guess I am.”

It seems he’s here to stay. Let’s hope some of that energy helps the industry as a whole. (Airline Cargo Management will be running the full interview with Steve Gunning in its next issue.)

Despite BA’s improving customer service (according to forwarders) it didn’t help it to win an award at Saturday’s gathering of the great and good at the Air Cargo News awards.

The Loadstar has questioned the true value of one or two of (the many) industry awards – but this is one of the good ones. (You can tell that by the fact that Emirates won three, and Lufthansa won two. That’s not the mark of a publishing company trying to boost ad revenues.) Voted for by freight forwarders, and verified and audited by the British International Freight Association, it’s a worthy award to win. So congratulations to the winners, listed here.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Douglas Tweddle, CBE

Cargo Airport – under 300,000 tonnes – Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

Cargo Airport – over 300,000 tonnes – Cincinatti/North Kentucky Airport

Global Freight Forwarder of the Year – SDV

GSSA of the Year – The ECS Group

Cargo Charter Broker of the Year – Chapman Freeborn AirChartering

Best African carrier – Emirates SkyCargo

Best Americas Airline – American Airlines

Best Asia-Pacific Airline – Lufthansa Cargo

Best European Carrier – Lufthansa Cargo

Best Middle Eastern Carrier – Emirates SkyCargo

Best All-Cargo Carrier – Cargolux

Cargo Airline of the Year – Emirates SkyCargo

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