TNT NV CEO and Chairman Peter Bakker is a ‘Highway Man’.
Even though his company runs an express delivery business in Europe, with a fleet of 46 dedicated aircraft, he prefers to put all his future bets on a network of highways enabling inter-border trade in the ASEAN region.
"Last year, we started a daily truck service connecting Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia to Vietnam. In January 2007, we will connect Vietnam to China.
"And if all goes well with road connectivity between India and Pakistan, we will become market leaders in providing cross border road solutions to facilitate trade in the region,” he told Prerna K Mishra at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.
Indian seems to present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for the express delivery market? How different is it from China?
The Indian market is very different from China since growth in China is export-driven while here it is driven by domestic consumption.
Unlike our competitors who are basing their business on running wide-bodied jets in and out of India, we are trying to enter a reliable scheduled road services network.
In 2006, with the acquisition of Speedex, we took the strength of our depots from 20 to 614 and acquired a decent fleet of sub-contracted road liners. We will spend the next couple of years integrating and upgrading the Speedex network into our global network.
What are your future plans for India?
We have an investment of 100 million euros (Rs 500 crore) pledged for India for the next couple of years and we see ourselves as leaders in the Indian market.
We have a dedicated fleet of aircraft in Europe and we have ordered two Boeing 747s to connect China to Europe. We will have to make similar plans for the Indian market given the upswing in Indian trade with Europe. Till then, we will be entering into partnerships with domestic aviation players.
What are your expectations from the government?
The Indian government is doing a commendable job in heralding progressive policies. But it needs to keep an eye on investment in infrastructure. Specific to the express business, India needs to become a single market.
To me, India looks akin to the European Union where there are 25 countries. The only difference is that all the countries there have become a single market.
We hope the Indian government also pushes in this direction as there are many hurdles in inter-state movement of commercial liners.