Cyrus Guzder won the STAT Times' Lifetime Achievement Award during the recently concluded 10th edition of air cargo India for his contribution to the Indian air cargo industry.

The award was presented by Robert Schönberger, Head, transport logistic, air cargo & ceramitec exhibitions, Messe Munchen and R.K.Patra, Group Editor-in-Chief, STAT Media Group.

Guzder began his career in 1967 with ICICI before moving to AFL Private Limited, then known as Airfreight Limited, in 1969. Since 1985, he has been the organisation’s Chairman and Managing Director. For 25 years, till 2001, he also headed the DHL Worldwide Express operations in India, then a 100 percent owned business division of AFL. Truly the man who spearheaded the introduction of international air express services in India.

Accepting the award, Guzder spoke about doing business in the late 60s and the early 70s, and how it was a challenge to work with no infrastructure in place, and "what we take today as a given was only a dream then. However, online bookings, 24x7 call centres, online DHL, we put it all together."

He also spoke about the peculiarities of air cargo operations of the era which were not governed by strict regulations and norms which resulted in several mistakes. This includes when the entire Frankfurt Airport had to be cleared of all passengers as Trinitrotoluene (TNT) was transported from India mistakenly and a case when a shipment to Hanover ended up in Saudi Arabia. He described how they overcame some of these challenges and became pioneers in moving goods by air.

“All of this sounds very glib to you. The fact is that we weren't inventing, and innovating as geniuses. The truth is that the situation was very dismal with regard to infrastructure in India,” he added.

He also spoke about the incessant trouble on Indian roads, rudimentary telecom networks and warehouses.

Guzder was the Chairman, National Committee on Transportation and Logistics, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), and has held leadership positions of CII’s National Council of Civil Aviation and National Committee on Logistics. He has also served on the local advisory board of Barclays Bank, India, the Board of Governors of Reserve Bank of India’s Banking Codes and Standard Board of India, and the boards of Air India, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India and The Great Eastern Shipping Company.

He also served as the Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Ireland in Mumbai for 17 years.

Guzder is the chairman of Quikjet Cargo Airlines, a joint venture between AFL and ASL Aviation Holdings. The airline operates a Boeing 737-800 freighter aircraft that carries Amazon Prime's cargo between the metro cities in India.

Quikjet, Guzder says, is doing a lot of "interesting things. QuickJet flies to 6-7 cities..there will not be any explosive growth but steady developments."

Connecting India to the outside world, hi-tech and defence exports and airport-related infrastructure businesses can be the growth areas, Guzder added.

Guzder is also known for his association with several causes of public importance and outspoken views on issues of public concern and probity in social life. He has been active in the area of heritage conservation and urban planning. He set up the first chapter in Bombay of the Indian Heritage Society, and as a member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), he has played an active role in conservation of the heritage buildings in Mumbai.

Only two days ago, Guzder was appointed Chairman of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly Prince of Wales Museum), one of the foremost museums in the country housing collections from the 2nd Millennium BC to modern & contemporary art.

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