04.01.2013

Kristjan earned a degree in Business Administration from the University of Reykjavik in 2006. Kristjan worked for DHL in Iceland for 15 years and at Eimskip for 2 years, before he moved with his family to Luxembourg in 2007, where he worked on a temporary assignment for Kuhne & Nagel. Kristjan took over as Station Manager for Icelandair Cargo on the 1 January 2011. Kristjan is married to Sigurlaug Erla Gunnarsdottir and they have two children.

Why did you start working for Icelandair Cargo?

 After the project at Kuhne & Nagel in Luxembourg was finished, I started to look around. Amongst others, I contacted Icelandair Cargo, they responded positively and in the end we reached an agreement.

How did you like it, when you started working for Icelandair Cargo? 

Very well. The workplace is enjoyably international. Those of us working here in Liege are from three different countries, Iceland, Germany and Belgium, though you could say that we are actually from four different countries because there are two Belgians here, one is from the French part of Belgium and the other from the Flemish part. The length of service at the office, excluding myself, is 7.5 years, so staff turnover has been almost zero. Manfred has been here since the office was established in Liege; Ingrid has been here 7 years and Olivier for 10 years. They know all the ins and outs of our transport network and operations and that is invaluable. In my work with DHL and Eimskip, I had a great relationship with Icelandair Cargo. The light and fun employee morale wascharacteristic of employees at Cargo. The employees at Cargo resolved my issues with great professionalism and consideration and, most importantly, they were always positive and charming and made me feel that the customer was always in first place. These previous dealings with Cargo have helped me immensely in familiarising myself with the work here in Belgium.

How would you describe your operations, in a few words? 

We make sure that the Icelandair Cargo’s international truck system is in good shape, i.e., we make sure that the right sizes of trucks are ordered and that they arrive at the warehouses at the right time. We take care of finding the price for ongoing freight all over the world, and, last but not least,it is our responsibility to create a loading schedule for the planes that go from Liege seven times a week. We also take care of the customs clearance for the horses that arrive once a week from Iceland. Next, it should be noted that we here in Liege receive Icelandic fish cargo, which is distributed throughout Europe. It is also our responsibility to make sure that the importation process runs smoothly, i.e., that after the plane arrives; we can dispatch the fish in less than two and a half hours to the warehouses. We are in communication with importers and cargo handing personnel, to make sure that everything goes according to plan and if necessary we visit the location if there is something that needs fixing or if people are unhappy.

What lies ahead? Any changes to operations?

Last year, the operations were changed considerably and made more efficient and what we can call “streamlined”. We also began working more with Swissport, our cargo handling company. This has been quite successful, but unfortunately we had to lay off two employees at Icelandair Cargo as a result of these operational changes. We managed to get one employee a job with Swissport, and he is working a lot with us today. On the 16th April last year, we moved to our new premises at the airport, a location that suits us much better. When the plane arrives in Liege, it is parked right in front of our warehouse. At the moment we are alone in a 7500 square metre warehouse, but we expect to get one or two new neighbours by the end of 2012. Furthermore, a cold storage unit, which takes up to 12 containers at a time will be set up and it can be subdivided into three different cooling chambers, depending on the temperature required to store the product, whether it needs to be refrigerated or frozen. The cold storage unit will be ready for use in September. At our request, the authorities here at Liege airport have enlarged the horse enclosure so that we can begin to receive many more horses from Iceland to Liege. Customers from all over Europe come to collect their horses from us. There is no doubt that we are always improving Icelandair Cargo’s services here in Liege.

And you and your family; have you made a home here?

Yes, the work is very enjoyable, it is diverse and the employee morale is good. I live in Luxembourg with my family, but I also rent a small apartment in a town called Tongeren. It is 20 km from the airport and is in the Flemish part of Belgium. This is a small town that has a long history; it is in fact the oldest town in Belgium and was the largest supply post for the Romans in Central Europe. In this area lived the Eburones, the great champions who were in no hurry to let the Roman Empire tell them what to do and were constantly making trouble for the Romans. I sometimes call the locals Asterix and Obelix, but they are not exactly pleased about that.

What do you do here in Belgium, outside of working hours?

I take the opportunity to play golf after work on weekdays when I am away from my family. I almost always go home to my family at the weekends and we try to use this time well. Travelling is very popular in my family, both skiing and cultural travel. We are situated in the heart of Europe, Luxembourg, and it is easy to travel anywhere by car, train or plane.

What does the future hold? Any ideas?

Eventually, I see my family and I moving back home to Iceland, to our extended family and friends. But in the near future, our life is here in Belgium and Luxembourg, at work and at school.

 

 

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