2023 is turning out to be quite a year for Alliance Ground International, (AGI) Group, with new business coming in quickly from North America and Canada and other parts of the globe.
It has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a small cargo handler at Miami International Airport, almost 20 years ago.
Having evolved from handling cargo, then postal mail (as part of AGI Post, formerly CargoForce)and most recently, turning its attention to passenger handling - thanks to its latest acquisition of Airport Terminal Services (ATS) - now seems the perfect time to launch one unique brand that reflects all of its four main businesses: AGI Ground, AGI Cargo, AGI Secure and AGI Post.
And what better occasion to announce the new branding than at the 7th GHI Americas Conference in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic on 13 June, where they were the proud Platinum Sponsor of the event.
Jared Azcuy, CEO of AGI, told GHI Magazine: “The point is: one culture, one brand. These brands are all exclusive but we wanted to preserve the AGI branding. So one way in which we're unique is we're keeping an executive at each branch or division.
“For example, one at ATS which has become AGI Ground, one at AGI which is the original legacy business, which is now AGI Cargo, and another at our TCSE business, our security company, which is AGI Secure and then another representative at AGI Post. The idea behind homogenising all four brands will help our employees have more opportunities and will make them feel part of a greater company.”
AGI now has over 12,000 employees, based largely in North America, but also Canada and Puerto Rico.
“The workforce has changed in that it’s very transactional but we need to go back to the old days where people can feel they can stay and have long-term opportunities and create a family and career with us,” said Azcuy, who himself has been in the industry for over 30 years.
“We have a great team and we add value to every airport where we go, that’s what we try and replicate everywhere.”
The agility of the company, i.e. having fewer layers between the senior management and the customer differentiates AGI from its competitors.
“It really is about the customer and that’s what sets us apart. As CEO, I want to maintain a close relationship with the customer base and what that represents. There isn’t 10 layers of management between myself and the customer and that is something which is unique about AGI.”
He stressed that although the company had moved into passenger handling over the past year, it could not forget about cargo, which is still a major priority for the business.
“There are ebbs and flows with cargo, but we are an experienced handler so we shouldn’t be surprised with ebbs and flows. If we are on an ebb, let’s make sure we are making the best out of it and improving the processes. And that’s what we are doing by investing in new processes and new technology in our cargo division.”
As part of these investments, AGI has appointed a Chief Technology Officer and Innovation Director and is also planning to launch a frontless counter cargo building later this year.
Having a frontless counter will have a massive impact on reducing truck waiting times as they enter in and out of cargo warehouses in quicker time periods as well as reducing carbon emissions onsite due to less engine idling.
“On a green initiative level, if a truck can come in and out of your warehouse within 30 minutes, as opposed to two hours, when a truck is running for two hours on your dock, just think about what that extrapolates to. Then think about if it is 50 trucks on the hour, every hour, and that’s just one location,” said Azcuy.
Sustainability is at the core of AGI’s thinking, which is why it has also recently launched AGI Cares 2028, a five-year ESG plan incorporating significant investments in their commitment to the environment. It was out of this that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Universal Hydrogen to explore running its ground support equipment with hydrogen fuel.
AGI is one of the few ground handling companies to be looking at hydrogen as an alternative to electric GSE. Most airports still lack the infrastructure necessary to support electric. Also, hydrogen is a true zero carbon fuel as it is made from water and its only emission is water. The other benefit is that it is set to be a more affordable fuel of the future on par with conventional jet fuel.
“We are excited to pilot the programme this quarter as part of our commitment to the environment,” he said.
“We are a low carbon footprint business innately with a team fully focusing on looking at what else we can do for the benefit of the environment. For example, we are using biodegradable plastic sheetings. All the new forklifts we purchase are electric, and then when it comes to working with our suppliers, like JBT AeroTech, we are learning about electric motors and when that technology is ready to advance and the airports have infrastructure to accommodate this, we will be ready to take advantage of these developments as well.”
Azcuy was confident about the future despite uncertainties with the US economy.
“We have the most resilient economy in the world. In my opinion, you have to take a longer look at the situation. I am not fazed by it – now is the time to buckle in and grow. I think we have tremendous momentum and our customers see that. We are being ordered new business at a fast rate – even in our downward economy we can grow.”
On the subject of new business, the company has been working on its European expansion strategy over the last six months, with possible announcements due at the end of the year.
Remaining tightlipped on who the possible ground handler could be, he said: “You’ll just have to wait and see but we are looking forward to expanding our footprint in Europe and shortly after that we will launch our South American expansion programme. The idea is that we take the AGI flag and everything that it represents, the people, the culture, everyone across the world and add value.”
On attending the 7th GHI Americas event at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Punta Cana, he added: “It was a wonderful and super productive conference for us. That’s the cost-benefit of coming to a conference like that, you get to see face to face all your customers in one place in a relaxed atmosphere especially in the Caribbean – and that’s why we were the Platinum Sponsors.”
For more information about AGI visit https://www.allianceground.com/