TNT NV CEO and Chairman Peter Bakker is something of a 'Highway Man' for even though his company runs a fleet of 46 dedicated aircraft for running the express delivery business in Europe, he likes 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. Next in January, we will connect Vietnam to China.
"And if all goes well with road connectivity between India and Pakistan, we would become market leaders in providing cross border road solutions to facilitate trade in the region," he told Prerna K Mishra on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.
Indian market seems to have a unique set of challenges and opportunities for the express delivery market? How different is it from China?
The Indian market is very different vis-à-vis the Chinese market since the growth in China is export-driven contrary to India where it is driven by domestic consumption. Unlike our competitors in India, who are basing their business on running wide-bodied jets in and out of India, we are trying to make a dent into 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 in integrating and upgrading the Speedex network into our global network.
What are your plans for India?
We have an investment of 100 million Euros pledged for India for the next couple of years and we see ourselves as a leader in the Indian market. We have a dedicated fleet of 46 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 Indian 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.
You have in recent times moved your corporate social responsibility initiatives away from sports to fighting global warming? What inspired the move?
When you run a fleet of 48,000 trucks and vans that are in a way contributing to global warming, you need to have the social consciousness to be proactive in doing whatever is required to reduce the problem and not wait for people to hold you responsible for it.
We want to be a solution and not a problem. In India, too, as a part of this initiative, we are starting a pilot from December 15 wherein we will move the four-wheel commercial liners plying between Bangalore and Mumbai from diesel to bio-feul. After studying the success in this region, we will roll it out nationwide.