The Logistics of the Formula 1 Grand Prix
Wolfgang Meier, CEO of Silk Way West Airlines
Global Trade: Tell our readership about your motivations in joining Silk Way Group in the capacity of President and CEO of Silk Way West Airlines?
Wolfgang Meier: It is terrific to join Silk Way West in the capacity of SVP of Commercial Operations and later on, as President and CEO, when the industry and indeed our organization have reached such an exciting juncture. The tangible results of the on-going One Belt, One Road initiative can be seen in Silk Way’s strategic expansion, as befits our dynamic positioning from within our global headquarters of Baku.
The commitment showcased by all participating Eurasian nations towards greater connectivity and cooperation has reactivated the ancient Silk Road and we are delighted to play a key role in this transformative process, as a proponent of its unbridled potential.
GT: In this globalizing and highly competitive industry, what do you see as the major challenges and opportunities in Silk Way West excelling and scaling in fleet and routes?
Meier: One challenge is certainly in finding balance when expanding beyond both the traditional and the niche routes of which we service, the latter being inherently more challenging than the well-known, me- too trunk routes such as Asia-Europe or transpacific services in to the United States, as examples.
We are not only constantly reviewing and enhancing our geographic network, we are elevating the array of well-designed, industry-specific solutions which we presently host, such as the temperature-controlled transportation of pharmaceuticals. Also, for the Oil and Gas (O&G) industry, we proudly offer specific solutions, particularly into Central Asia, which we would describe as our home-turf.
We also see great opportunity as we expand our humanitarian aid routes, in and around Africa and the Middle East—to deliver more, with efficiency and integrity, to those who need it most.
GT: What are some of the factors that one must consider before executing a venue or exhibition-centered program as complex as a Grand Prix (most recently held in Baku, Azerbaijan), an event made possible in large part via the tremendous logistical support provided by the Silk Way Group?
Meier: The recently held Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix in Baku was a good example of how closely we work with all stakeholders, engaging in dialogue between the organizers of the F1 Grand Prix, the local authorities and our team at Silk Way throughout the venue’s tenure. We were fully embedded in the logistic supply chain as an important partner in F1 operations, today world-wide, an achievement made possible by having operated specific charter flights to and from Baku, just in time.
This milestone serves as an excellent example also as to how we can re-align ourselves to the specific requirements set by our customers, in this case, the organizers.
With our suite of services, trained staff and shared skill-set to perform flights that befit venues such as the Grand Prix, it is safe to say that there are ambitions to expand this dynamic wing of our portfolio.
GT: Where do you envision Silk Way West Airlines in five years’ time?
Meier: We are very certain of where we want to be in five years’ time. Our plan is to run a fleet of not more than 20 full freighters, overseeing and operating within a very efficient global network, hosting an attractive spread of destinations in combination with a unique product offering.
The network will look much denser than today and at that time we will have further developed our industry specific-products, wholly-embedded into a fully digitized environment. We will be more efficient. We will be more attractive. We will be more unique.