BARRY HANSEN, NO STRANGER to the international air cargo scene, is comfortably nestled in London as American Airlines' managing director, international cargo sales. He is one of the Dallas-based carrier's newer cargo executives, regarded in the industry as a particularly astute appointment by cargo chief Bill Boesch.

Mr. Hansen's extensive background in international air freight forwarding - ex-Emery, ex-Air Express International, plus years as a transportation/ distribution consultant - neatly fit American's overseas cargo-development drive, which is focused on the agent as the prime source of traffic. If there is any major difference between the home and overseas markets, it is that ''here the forwarder is still in control of the shipment."The integrators have captured most of the domestic freight market. There is absolutely no intention of allowing that to occur internationally. Mr. Hansen is upbeat on future airline-forwarder relations. It is less a matter of mutual infatuation than the fact that "the carriers and the agents have a common competitor problem, and this common concern will bring them together." He is acutely aware that past experience is merely prologue; that they must do ''something different" if they are to wring success from the future.

Convinced that before long all the dedicated express operators will be soliciting hard freight, Mr. Hansen nevertheless holds that the integrators' blush is fading in the international sector. Integrators, he maintains, "have to worry" about filling their freighters in both directions, higher fuel costs and aging aircraft. Against their freighter lift, he pits the importance of bellyloads at high frequencies. American, Mr. Hansen points out, schedules 165 weekly departures from the United States.

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HE TENDS TO AGREE with those who forecast a scaling-down of integrator numbers. In his opinion, Emery Worldwide is vulnerable as an international integrator, and since its acquisition of Flying Tigers "some vulnerability" is attached to Federal Express. Mr. Hansen dismisses the possibility that a new integrator will enter the industry, asserting that "enthusiasm for investment capital is diminished by the record of results."

Many qualified industry observers do not accept seriously the likelihood of new forwarder consortiums, despite the creation last fall of German Sky Express. But Mr. Hansen doesn't reject it out of hand. He contends that if the airlines fail to develop for the agents the services that enable them to compete against the express services, it will probably stimulate forwarders to think of consortia.

Although American's overseas cargo sales head spends most of his time in the European market, his responsibilities project considerably beyond it, "to some extent, Japan and Australia." At the present time, his major interest is in working with Europe's forwarding industry. With the exception of a single outbound commercial account, he claims, all of American's eastbound traffic is provided by intermediaries.

On direct airline-shipper negotiation, Mr. Hansen noted it is generally the shipper that initiates the contact with a trade-off proposal (paperwork for better rate), but he conceded it is difficult making the forwarder believe this.

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THE FORWARDER TRADITIONALLY MAKES a beeline for the traffic manager. In contrast, direct airline contact often reaches a higher level of shipper executive, often a vice president of finance or distribution.

Mr. Hansen appears to have settled smoothly into his present position. There is much travel, and competitive challenges sometimes come in bunches. But he conveys a positive image with his easygoing manner and acknowledged professionalism.

The extraordinary depth of American's short- and long-term planning has made a strong impression on him; and his job has been made easier because his philosophy conforms with the airline's.

About Europe's single internal market coming in 1993, Mr. Hansen commented that even if air transport is not markedly affected, "it will force open a lot of minds."

Barry Hansen's grin indicates that he has adapted to the transoceanic

shift in operations like a duck takes to water.

"Europe is the place to be right now," he declares.