WOF & BUD Cargo Forum 2023
13. November 2023

WOF Interview with Taner Sari, the Managing Director at Celebi Ground Handling Hungary


Taner Sari is the Managing Director at Celebi Ground Handling Hungary Kft. His broad spectrum of experience in the aviation industry began with Çelebi in 1989. He continued serving diverse Station Manager roles at several airports in Turkey from 1997 to 2009, where he handled operations at Antalya Airport, Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Adnan Menders Airport, and Milas-Bodrum Airport, among others. In 2009, Sari progressed to a higher leadership role as a Managing Director for Celebi Ground Handling in Delhi for establishing the company, a position he held for close to four years. Following this, he served for nearly three years as the Director of Operations at Çelebi Ground Handling Turkey before his current tenure in Hungary. In addition to his extensive planning and management experience, Sari holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Corvinus University of Budapest.

How has your company been navigating the current post-COVID situation, considering the fluctuations in inflation, price volatility, and market uncertainties?

The ground handling and cargo warehousing sector is heavily dependent on international flights. During the pandemic period, ground handling services in particular decreased by more than 90%. The sector is integrally very labour and capital intensive. With a high fixed cost model, a large employee base and diminishing cash flow, the situation was quite challenging. Our priority remained the well-being, health and safety of our employees and our customers during the peak covid situation. When things started opening up, business started returning back at the same pace as airlines started deploying their capacity cautiously. We were though well prepared to tackle the upswing from a resource and readiness perspective.


What strategies have you implemented to safeguard your operations and ensure stability during these challenging times?

COVID forced all of us to rethink conventional business processes, use technology as much as possible and integrate all applications. We have done a lot to digitize our processes. In the meanwhile, we upscaled e-learning in a big way. The post COVID era has resulted in resource challenges in some sectors in specific in Europe and some other parts of the world. This resource crunch clubbed with the current geopolitical situation has impacted supply chain majorly. This situation is forcing us to plan ahead keeping the lead times in mind. We are also going green in a big way. All new equipment being purchased is going to be electric if produced. All this may increase our input costs hence its critical for us to improve operational efficiencies. As a summary we will continue to play an active role in transforming the way we work – Increased efficiencies, modernize and remain sustainable.


That is reasuring to hear, Taner. In the context of digitalization, what specific solutions and advancements are you offering your clients to enhance their logistics experience?

Çelebi Ground Handling focuses on the digitalization of our operations to streamline processes and to provide reliable, innovative solutions for our clients in every country where it operates. We recently launched the Cargocel system in Hungary, a new cargo management system aimed at improving communication with our clients and delivering customized cargo handling solutions.

This state-of-the-art air cargo management system offers a comprehensive, integrated information technology solution, tracking the entire process of physical cargo handling, documentation, and communications in real-time. The implementation of the Cargocel system brings numerous advantages, including ensuring the speed and quality of warehousing and transportation processes while granting greater transparency to our clients, as they receive regular updates and real-time information on their shipments throughout the entire process.

By leveraging these technologies, we can optimize our cargo handling, enhance communication among stakeholders, and improve overall operational efficiency. Furthermore, our digital platforms enable faster response times, real-time cargo tracking, and increased transparency, ensuring an improved logistics experience for our clients.

Recently, we successfully rolled out the Cargo application for our business in Hungary. This demonstrates our commitment to implementing a standardized global Cargo solution across different regions. This initiative aims to optimize operations, enhance customer satisfaction, and ensure a uniform service experience for all customers, regardless of their location.


Can you share an example of a game-changing application of AI your company adopted recently? How did it transform the process or operation, and what were the key benefits it brought to the organization?

Celebi Hungary’s recent adoption of a WhatsApp chatbot for customer assistance has been transformative. Now, customers can contact us anytime for Air Waybill (AWB) status inquiries, ensuring 24/7 accessibility. This implementation has streamlined processes, resulting in benefits like enhanced efficiency, scalability, and cost savings.

The chatbot provides consistent, instant, and personalized updates, reducing the workload for agents and fostering engagement. Moreover, it has positioned us as a modern and customer-centric organization, ready to meet the demands of an always-connected world. The technology not only optimizes resource allocation but also offers valuable data insights, further enhancing our customer experience. Overall, it has positioned our organization to meet the demands of a modern, always-connected world while optimizing resource allocation and enhancing the customer experience.


That is impressive. How does your company differentiate its market strategy compared to competitors in the industry?

Çelebi Aviation, sets itself apart from competitors in the industry by having a market strategy centered around five core values: service excellence, customer centricity, safety focus, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Our emphasis on service excellence ensures we provide top-tier, comprehensive handling services tailored to our clients’ needs. By remaining customer-centric, we maintain open channels of communication, personalizing our services and fostering strong business relationships.

Safety is at the forefront of our operations, as we strive to create a secure environment for our clients and staff. We achieve this by implementing rigorous safety protocols, investing in proper and rigorous training, and promoting a safety-conscious culture. Our entrepreneurial approach allows us to adapt to market changes and seize new opportunities that contribute to our growth and the value we offer to our clients. Lastly, we remain committed to innovation, investing in advanced technologies and sustainable practices to optimize our processes and contribute to the global push towards greener aviation.


What are the key strategic partners in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region that your company relies on?

Çelebi Ground Handling Hungary primarily operates within its domestic market, focusing on internal solid capabilities under the umbrella of Çelebi Aviation Holding. Budapest Airport supports our strategic infrastructure, and we see all our customers, service providers, and stakeholders as our strategic partners.


The green deal and sustainability are becoming increasingly important in the logistics sector. While striving for environmentally friendly practices is essential, initially, higher costs are associated. What measures are both affordable and effective in achieving sustainable logistics operations for your company in the CEE region?

Celebi Aviation is dedicated to sustainable logistics in the CEE region, employing a multifaceted approach. This includes prioritizing the electrification of ground support equipment (GSE), opting for electric GSEs whenever feasible, and retrofitting existing GSE for eco-friendliness. Notably, we proudly operate the CHAMP 350e electric aircraft high-loader, a powerful and versatile addition to our fleet. Our commitment extends to repurposing existing assets and implementing advanced technologies such as the Cargocel system. These initiatives optimize cargo handling processes, reduce environmental impact, and ensure operational efficiency. Celebi’s strategy aligns with our dedication to green practices, meeting the region’s sustainability expectations effectively.


The Çelebi Aviation Holding has established Çelebi Ground Handling Hungary Kft. on 26 October 2006 by purchasing the shares of Budapest Airport Handling Kft. By today, our company has a significant market share on the ground handling market of Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport. Çelebi stepped into the aviation industry with the establishment of Çelebi Ground Handling in 1958 as Turkey’s first privately-owned ground handling services company. Today, it stands out as one of the most successful examples of integrated services in the Civil Aviation industry offering Ramp, Passenger, Cargo Handling, Warehouse Management, Bridge Operations, Trucking, General Aviation, Airport Lounge Management and Premium Services globally.