In the world of air cargo leadership, Keku Bomi Gazder, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Aviapro Logistic Services has an impressive career spanning over 35 years. He stands as a true veteran within the air cargo industry.
Across his journey, Keku Gazder has gained invaluable expertise across diverse regions such as the Levant, Middle East, Arabian Gulf, and Indian Sub-continent. Before ascending to his current role, he commanded the helm as Chief Executive Officer at AAICLAS, a notable entity that stands as India’s premier air cargo terminal operator. With a footprint extending to over 45 airports, AAICLAS, a 100 percent subsidiary of the Airports Authority of India, signifies a significant milestone in the Indian air cargo landscape.
His legacy is etched in the establishment of pivotal cargo infrastructure. Notably, he oversaw the commissioning of an integrated cargo terminal in Jaipur and a dedicated international courier terminal in Kolkata. His efforts further extended to the establishment of international cargo terminals in Aurangabad, Madurai, Varanasi, Srinagar, and Visakhapatnam. Domestically, his impact was felt through the inauguration of cargo terminals in cities like Bagdogra, Bhopal, Dehradun, Guwahati, Hubballi, Jammu, Leh, Rajahmundry, Surat, Srinagar, Thiruvananthapuram, Tirupati, and Vijayawada.
Gazder’s professional affiliations enrich his standing. As a Chartered Member at CMILT and a former member of the CII (National Committee on Civil Aviation India), his connections within the aviation realm are substantial. His involvement extended to key committees, including the Civil Aviation Advisory Group and Air Cargo Promotion Board, operating under the aegis of the Honourable Minister of Civil Aviation, India. His contributions extended to roles within the Investment Clearance Cell and Defence Convergence Committee, both under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India.
At present, Keku Gazder’s influence continues to extend. He is an active participant on the Task Force established by the Department of Logistics, DPIIT, under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. In addition, he holds a crucial position as a board member at ACFI. His commitment to fostering innovation is evident through his membership in the advisory boards of two emerging startups within the aviation ecosystem.
Leading AAICLAS: Challenges conquered
When asked about his extensive leadership roles within the air cargo industry, especially his time as the Chief Executive Officer of AAICLAS, India’s most prominent air cargo terminal operator, Keku Gazder recounted a journey marked by both challenges and accomplishments. The role came with its own set of hurdles, notably the need for operational optimisation and infrastructure expansion. With the air cargo industry rapidly expanding, adapting to the escalating volumes while maintaining impeccable service standards was paramount. Their strategy was built on meticulous planning and collaborative efforts. They orchestrated a comprehensive transformation of processes, bolstered existing facilities, and fostered strategic partnerships to heighten efficiency and elevate the overall customer experience.
Keku Gazder’s trailblazing career trajectory further saw him leading Saudi Arabian Airlines Cargo, where he held the esteemed position of Regional Director for the Indian Sub-Continent. Responsible for nations like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, his stewardship left an indelible mark on air cargo operations. Successfully managing the diverse markets in this region necessitated a profound comprehension of the distinctive dynamics inherent to each country. In essence, every market posed its own distinct regulatory framework, cultural intricacies, and operational complexities.
The crux of Keku’s approach revolved around nurturing localised relationships, delving into the subtleties of each culture, and tailoring their services to meet specific demands. He devoted considerable time to familiarising himself with the cultural norms and business practices prevalent in each nation. This investment played a pivotal role in establishing a foundation of trust and credibility.
By harmonising their operations with local expectations and adhering meticulously to regulatory prerequisites, Keku adeptly steered through a myriad of challenges. This strategic alignment not only facilitated a smoother traversal through obstacles but also served as a cornerstone for ensuring the resounding success of Saudi Arabian Airlines Cargo across the expansive terrain of the Indian Sub-Continent.
With more than two decades rooted in the Middle East, his influence resonated through leadership roles in airlines like Kenya Airways Cargo and Martinair Cargo, among others. His insights and contributions significantly shaped the region’s air cargo landscape.
During Keku’s tenure at AAI Cargo Logistics and Allied Services, a remarkable accomplishment unfolded as he successfully orchestrated India’s pioneering road and air transshipment via Kolkata. This achievement held profound significance for the nation’s air cargo sector, ushering in a new era of efficiency and connectivity.
This milestone was nothing short of revolutionary, streamlining the movement of cargo and significantly cutting down transit times. The impact of this innovation resonated throughout India’s air cargo landscape, introducing a seamless multi-modal connectivity solution. Its implications were far-reaching. Firstly, it drastically reduced the transit duration for cargo destined for areas that were not directly serviced by flights, thereby broadening the reach of air cargo services to a wider expanse of regions.
Moreover, this innovative approach optimised aircraft capacity utilisation and alleviated congestion at busy airports. Beyond these benefits, the introduction of road and air transshipment led to tangible cost savings for businesses, presenting a more flexible and economically viable transportation option. In essence, Keku’s visionary efforts had a transformative impact on the Indian air cargo industry, setting new standards of efficiency and accessibility.
Keku’s visionary efforts had a transformative impact on the Indian air cargo industry, setting new standards of efficiency and accessibility
Keku’s pivotal role in supporting the Indian government’s impactful initiatives such as “Lifeline Udaan,” “Vaccine Maitri,” and “Krishi Udaan” demonstrated the air cargo industry’s profound contribution both domestically and on the global stage.
The conviction that the air cargo sector serves as a cornerstone during crises and plays a crucial role in sustaining essential sectors of the economy drove Keku’s involvement. “Lifeline Udaan” materialised as a response to the COVID-19 lockdown, ensuring the unbroken supply of vital goods across the nation. Collaborative efforts saw a total of 415 flights under the ‘Lifeline Udan’ initiative, carrying approximately 779.86 tons of cargo across aerial distances exceeding 4 lakh kilometres. This effort hinged on leveraging networks and partnerships to maintain the flow of medical supplies, perishables, and other critical items.
The groundbreaking “Vaccine Maitri” initiative, orchestrated by the Indian government, aimed to ferry COVID-19 vaccines to nations worldwide. A staggering 3012.465 lakh vaccine doses were delivered to 96 countries. This undertaking showcased not only the agility of the air cargo industry but also its capacity to bolster global health endeavours.
The “Krishi Udaan” endeavour was dedicated to the transportation of agricultural products to international markets. Keku’s efforts facilitated the export of perishable goods, providing farmers access to global markets and enhancing their livelihoods.
Keku’s receipt of accolades like the “Trail Blazer,” “Industry Ambassador,” and the “12th Vishwakarma Covid Warrior Award” underscored the resounding influence he wielded from the air cargo industry. Notably, he was crowned the “Air Cargo Person of the Year” for the 2019–20 period by the ACAAI Eastern Region.
These prestigious acknowledgments served as testament to his unwavering dedication to steering transformative change, particularly in the face of adversity. The “Trail Blazer” distinction, a recognition of pioneering logistic strategies and an unswerving pursuit of excellence, underscored his role in propelling novel approaches in the industry.
Bestowed with the title of “Industry Ambassador” by DDP, Keku’s efforts in fostering harmonious collaboration among diverse stakeholders were spotlighted. This recognition encapsulated his commitment to cultivating an environment of mutual advancement and growth.
The “12th Vishwakarma Covid Warrior Award” magnified his contributions during the pandemic, a period that spotlighted the industry’s tenacity and adaptability. Yet Keku humbly attributed these honours not to himself but to the collective efforts of his colleagues. Totally with the exceptional support of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and AAI, he significantly bolstered the initiatives and endeavors that garnered such acclaim.
Keku’s involvement in committees and boards like the Civil Aviation Advisory Group and Air Cargo Promotion Board marked a pivotal role in moulding India’s aviation and logistics domains. Remarkable accomplishments during this period underscored his dedication to shaping policies and strategies.
Having a seat on these influential platforms empowered Keku to effect change in the aviation and logistics sectors. His significant contributions included pioneering regulatory reforms that streamlined cargo operations and actively participating in the formulation of strategies aimed at augmenting cargo infrastructure. Championing initiatives that fostered industry growth became a hallmark of his tenure.
Notably, Keku played a pivotal role in facilitating cross-border e-commerce, necessitating extensive collaboration with customs authorities, technology providers, and other stakeholders. This initiative not only enhanced the business environment’s efficiency but also unlocked fresh opportunities for revenue generation and the expansion of trade horizons.
Championing initiatives that fostered industry growth became a hallmark of his tenure
Keku, as a member of the advisory board for aviation startups, recognised the substantial potential within the aviation ecosystem. His insights shed light on the transformative role startups can play in revolutionising the logistics and air cargo sectors.
The potential harboured by aviation startups within the logistics and air cargo spheres is nothing short of remarkable. They bring with them fresh perspectives, innovative technologies, and disruptive business models that hold the power to reshape long-standing practices. The agility innate to startups allows them to swiftly address specific pain points within the industry.
One prime example is their ability to create platforms connecting shippers with available cargo space on flights. This innovative approach not only reduces wastage but also optimises the utilisation of capacity. Furthermore, startups possess the potential to introduce sustainable practices and green technology, significantly contributing to the reduction of the industry’s carbon footprint. In essence, these budding enterprises hold the key to ushering in a new era of efficiency and sustainability within the aviation and logistics sectors.
In the role of Managing Director and CEO at Aviapro Logistic Services (a dedicated GSSA of Vistara Cargo in India), Keku envisions steering the company, which handles more than 86,000 Vistara departures annually at 31 stations, towards a pioneering status in the logistics industry, driven by innovation and growth. His extensive experience stands as a testament to his determination to transform the sector through cutting-edge practices.
Keku’s vision for Aviapro Logistic Services centres around its emergence as a trailblazing hub of innovation within the logistics realm. He firmly believes that innovation serves as the gateway to unearthing fresh avenues of growth and elevating customer experiences to unprecedented levels.
Drawing on his wealth of experience, Keku intends to integrate state-of-the-art technologies, refine operational processes, and foster strategic alliances that will propel the company forward while ensuring customer satisfaction remains paramount. His strategic blueprint encompasses the creation of a collaborative culture within the organisation, encouraging cross-functional teams to collaborate closely on innovative solutions.
Ultimately, Keku’s vision for Aviapro Logistic Services revolves around occupying the vanguard of innovation and driving transformative change that positively influences the logistics landscape. His aim is to position Aviapro as a frontrunner, delivering efficient, reliable, and customer-centric logistics solutions that set new industry standards.
His insights shed light on the transformative role startups can play in revolutionising the logistics and air cargo sectors