Life had become busy busy busy after I settled into working at Head Office in Sydney.
The onboard courier system had expanded greatly. Each courier was obliged to collect their courier bags on arrival at the destination airport, and the bags were getting heavier as business expanded. Bags used to be around 10 to 15 kilos each, so the bags could be handled – to a point.
Company staff were not allowed into the arrival hall to help the courier, so we had to be creative.
As the business grew so the weight of the courier bags grew to around 20 to 30 kilos each. The courier was only allowed hand baggage for their personal needs because the Company used all the weight allocated to the ticket, plus a great deal more, which was classed as excess baggage.
To travel as a courier the cost was of the ticket was about ten percent of the actual true cost – we were never short of couriers, particularly on the London or Los Angeles run.
In the above picture the lady in yellow is stowing a small courier satchel. This was everybody’s idea of an onboard courier. In the satchel would have been details of the courier bags in the aircraft hold. She would only have hand baggage.
The size of the courier bag was more like the one being handled in the above advert, and it would weigh between 25 to 30 kilos.
I represented the Company as a member of the International Courier Association, which was created to represent all Australian international courier companies when dealing with the State or Federal Governments, and of course Customs.
The ICA (International Courier Association) had many meetings with Qantas Cargo to create an express system through Sydney Airport for courier material, and to end the requirement for a courier to be on the aircraft.
It was an interesting time as the international courier industry matured and the likes of DHL Couriers began a regular evening service to New Zealand using their own B 727.
Finally, Qantas agreed to our suggestion if we would move our courier traffic from British Airways to Qantas.
Qantas had to obtain the agreement from customs for an express clearance for the express traffic.
In the 1980’s it was easy for Qantas to deal with customs and the various governmental departments because they were a government owned airline.
In 1993 the Australian Government sold 25% of Qantas to British Airways, and in 1995 they sold the remaining 75% to the public, and Qantas became a public company listed on the Australian stock exchange.
Qantas obtained agreement from all parties and the EHU was born (Express Handling Unit) with its own General Manager.
At last we (as an industry) could stop using onboard couriers but maintain express customs clearance.
The EHU would save us money in the purchase of the passenger tickets and the screening of couriers. The couriers that we used were no longer employees going on holiday, but ‘outsiders’ who had to be screened to be acceptable as couriers.
The revenue loss of the passenger tickets to Qantas was redistributed from Qantas passenger to Qantas freight, because Qantas charged a fee for the use of the EHU – but it was not as high as their passenger ticket.
Life was changing as Qantas Airlines realised that they had to pay attention to the ‘new’ international courier industry.
Now that the EHU was running smoothly I wanted to implement an idea I had once we had rid ourselves of the requirement for a body in a seat to obtain fast customs clearance.
The inbound aircraft from the UK stopped at Singapore and I wanted our courier traffic to be split amongst the various daily Qantas services from Singapore to Australian capital cities, during the time that the London to Sydney aircraft was in transit in Singapore.
This would increase our service standard for our Australian consignees and British shippers.
During the creation of the OBC service all the traffic would arrive in Sydney where it was sorted into major Australian destinations and forwarded by air each afternoon. Only Melbourne would receive their traffic in time for an afternoon delivery, and occasionally, to a lesser extent, Brisbane.
By breaking the shipment in Singapore this would allow each major station to receive their traffic on the same day rather than wait for an overnight service from Sydney.
In addition to the enhanced service this would save us domestic linehaul costs (domestic airfreight charges) and increase our profit line.
Later we added Adelaide once Qantas introduced the SIN/ADL service.
I was invited by our regional office in Singapore to visit Singapore to discuss the transit splitting with Qantas Singapore and how Singapore traffic could be added to the re-directed London origin traffic.
Singapore added on another ‘little’ requirement – they wanted ideas as to how to refine the Singapore pick-up/delivery services.
While I was in Singapore I visited Jakarta for a day, Kuala Lumpur for a day and two days in Bangkok. It was a tiring time collecting stamps in my passport.
On my return to Sydney, I received a phone call from Singapore requesting recommendations for a manager to develop and expand the pick-up and delivery drivers in Singapore.
Sydney lost their courier driver manager – he and his wife moved to Singapore and from memory lived there for about ten years before moving to Tasmania to open an up-market B & B.
Not long after the loss of Sydney’s Manager of couriers I was asked to suggest the right man for a manager to be seconded to the New Delhi office for about three months to train their operational staff.
Sydney lost one of their operational shift managers.
I was not popular with the NSW State Manager . . . . . .
TNT Skypak handled all of the non-sensitive diplomatic mail for the Australian Government, which is why I think we were asked to handle a special job.
The General Manager dropped the fax on my desk and said ‘fix this for Canberra . . . ‘
The fax was from the Australian Government with a request to arrange a chartered aircraft to carry humanitarian goods to Bangladesh during the 1987 floods.
I did wonder why the Government did not use the Royal Australian Air Force, perhaps because they did not wish to be seen flying RAAF planes in a sensitive (politically speaking) area.
Australia sent food, water purification tablets, medicines etc.
The above is a DC8 freighter (cargo plane), which I chartered. I found the picture on the internet and removed the company logo. I cannot remember the freighter company that I used, but I do remember that it was a DC8.
From an operational aspect I found the exercise challenging and interesting to organise the charter, the loading of the aircraft and export customs clearance, and not make a profit.
I titled this post Fly Me To The Moon due to the number of times I saw the moon in and out of Singapore, but Julie London sings it a lot better than me.