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Leading lights - Jason Berry, Alaska Airlines

Jason Berry provides executive oversight of Alaska Air Cargo, within Alaska Air Group. In his role, Jason engages with Federal and State staff officials regarding policy impacting the cargo business, and represents Alaska at trade and industry events. Prior to his current role, Jason previously served as Director, Cargo Operations and Compliance for Alaska Air Group, with responsibility for all aspects of cargo operations within Alaska Air Group and its subsidiaries
What does a typical day entail in your job?
The first thing I do every morning is to review our performance for the previous day. This is for both commercial and operational metrics. I want to know where we stand as a business unit, trends that may be developing and areas of opportunity to target. Often this will shape the remainder of the day in terms of where we may be focusing as a leadership team. The cargo group within Alaska Airlines is comprised of a relatively small cast. We all travel throughout the network extensively and spend a fair amount of time on the road, meeting with customers, staff and vendor partners. Our entire leadership team is deeply connected to our business. 
This helps ensure we’re driving the right inputs to deliver results and allows us to help support each other across workgroups. Outside of our strategic planning, much of what we do on a day-to-day basis is data driven. We analyse just about every transaction and step of the business. Coming from an operational background, I’m keen to be on the ground at the warehouse facilities and on our ramps seeing the cargo move through the supply chain. With over 100 cargo destinations there’s always something exciting or interesting happening.
How did you end up in the industry?
I come from a cargo family. My aunt was a gateway manager for Emery Worldwide and my father was a loadmaster, performing load plans for Emery, Cargolux and several other carriers over his time in the industry. As a young boy, I would wake up early on the weekends and join my dad on the ramp to watch freighters being loaded. My first job in the industry was at Cargolux Airlines, while I was still in high school. What was supposed to be a part-time job to save money for college ended up becoming a life-long love affair for the industry. While I never expected to continue down the same path as my family, after nearly 23 years, I couldn’t think of doing anything else.  
How significant is air cargo at Alaska Airlines?
Although we make up only a small portion of total revenue, cargo is a very significant part of what our company does. Alaska Airlines began over 85 years ago as a cargo carrier. To this day, our freighter network in the state of Alaska serves as a lifeline for many remote communities. Aviation is what connects families in Alaska. We help supply food, medicine and many household items that are taken for granted in more populous regions. 
Our senior leadership understands how important it is for Alaska Airlines to help support remote communities. This is one of the primary reasons our executives have supported the cargo team through investments in new freighter aircraft. We remain one of the last combination carriers left in the US because our company has recognised that a combination fleet can help diversify the business while also providing a critical link to remote communities. 
Clearly, perishables, especially fish, must be a core contribution. What expertise have you gained here?
We take moving perishables seriously. Our teams on the ground understand how important it is to maintain the cool chain. The seafood business relies on our aircraft to get their fresh product to markets across the globe. The employees at our stations are really dialled in to the seafood business. In many instances it’s their friends or family who are out fishing. Many communities depend on seafood to drive their local economy.
We understand the significance of our role and dedicate a vast amount of resources to ensure this product moves with the utmost care. Our cargo call centre has a dedicated seafood desk that manages all our seafood bookings year-round. They coordinate belly and freighter space between all our lanes and manage capacity down to the available pound. >>

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