Tête-à-tête with Kritika Seth: “GSAs are yet to see massive growth in the coming years”

After her brief stint at the United Nations, Kritika Seth, a young woman with many aspirations, came back to India to follow in the footsteps of her father and join their family business Allied Aviation Pvt Ltd. Making the best of her opportunity, Kritika made it as the Executive Director of one of the most renowned GSAs in the country with a PAN India presence. In this largely male-dominated sector, she is among the few women leaders taking her organisation and the industry to new heights. 

Heartened by her journey and passion for this industry, Logistics Insider felt the need to connect with her to know her story and uncover a segment of the air cargo industry that usually does not make it to the mainstream – the Global Sales Agents or the GSAs. The role of the GSA continues to evolve as carriers look to reduce costs by outsourcing more functions, and traditional activities, such as cargo sales is not the only consideration in many GSA agreements.

In an exclusive thought leadership interaction, we dwelled upon pertinent subjects like the role of GSAs, demand & supply, and capacity & revenue, among others. 

Giving a perfect start to the interview, Kritika talks about how the day-to-day challenges and twists and turns of the job have become a rush of dopamine and kept her inspired and going.  

Getting to the nitty gritty of the GSA business, we start by asking her about the evolution of Allied Aviation as an organization and the GSA business over the years. Responding to this, Kritika highlights that the value-added service has transformed over the years. 

She says, “We at Allied have grown horizontally as opposed to vertically. We have added services like ground handling and supervision. We have expanded our door-to-door services, and express service and taken a deep dive into technology for courier consolidators to give a greater customer experience to people who provide these courier services. We have also put up a foot in the door with pharma.”

Speaking of GSAs as a business, she highlights that airlines are not looking for another run-of-the-mill GSA. “They are transforming, and they want something more than just a marketing arm,” she said. 

Talking about the imbalance of demand and supply, comparing the pre-COVID and the post-COVID era, she says there has been a -13% imbalance of demand from December 2022 to 2023, while the year-on-year analysis says that the supply went up by 9%. “We are in a state of imbalance but it’s not as dark as it was,” she said reassuringly.  

Taking the conversation forward, we asked her to paint a picture to help us understand the working of spot rates in the market. 

“It is very important for airlines and GSAs to use spot rates with a lot of integrity. You need to understand the market and provide the rates accordingly. If not used judiciously, you can be one of the players that can spring the market towards the lower end which is not beneficial for all stakeholders,” she shared. 

Moreover, she highlights the importance of a uniform approach in the market for spot rates and talks about the game of spot rates played by the shippers. 

Commenting on the observation that cost-effective GSAs globally were found to establish an airline’s market presence through wide network coverage and good local knowledge, leading to an expansion of the airline’s operating networks and generating greater sales revenue, Kritika said this does not hold for the Indian market yet. 

Justifying her statement, she said, “Airline’s networks are vast and India is a speck on their network. An important part but a speck. When we see a market rise, we let the airline know. It is the airline’s purview to see that all factors are met. We can only suggest.”

Ending the interview on a high note, Kritika said that the Indian aviation sector is only going to grow upwards. And that GSAs are yet to see massive growth in the coming years.

She also answered a few very interesting questions from the audiences with a lot of spunk around domestic fleets helping combat price volatility in black swan events, the effect of multi-modal transportation on dynamic pricing, Indian airlines’ adapting to recent development in the aviation industry, and more. 

Overall, it was a fresh take on some of the very technical aspects of the industry and we were grateful to have Kritika tackle them with great poise.

In case you missed the live interview, click here to watch it now.

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