A forwarders’ airline? Maybe not.

Has Cargolux lost its luster in the eyes of the big forwarders?

Photo: Alex Kwanten

Cargolux has never been the world’s biggest airline. Combination carriers like Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Cathay Pacific, and Korean Air, have not only offered freighter fleets similar to that of Cargolux, they also offer belly space in their huge long-haul passenger fleets. On top of which, their hubs are in the world’s big logistics capitals – exactly where they should be for the most efficient end-to-end shipment of goods.

And yet Cargolux, with no belly space, and a hub in out-of-the-way Luxembourg, has thrived right alongside its traditional competitors, and also against the more recent competition for Middle East-based carriers like Emirates. Why? Because Cargolux worked hard to develop long-lasting relationships with forwarders, going out of its way to offer the best possible service.

But if reports out of Europe and Asia are correct, that special relationship may be going up in flames. Cargo Facts had heard rumors that the changes brought about through the sale of a 35% stake in Cargolux to Henan-based Investment firm HNCA, particularly the resignations of some of the senior executives who had developed the relationship in the first place, were not sitting well with forwarders. Such rumors surface during any big corporate shakeup, but a week ago we were told that newly appointed CEO Dirk Reich was not seeing eye-to-eye with Robert Song, who led the push for a stake on behalf of HNCA (and the Henan government) and subsequently was made Cargolux SVP Asia Pacific and appointed to the carrier’s Executive Committee.

At the same time, the rumor of unhappiness on the part of Cargolux’s forwarder customers took on added heat. And now, the boiling point seems to have been reached.

Cargo Facts’ European editor Alex Lennane reports today that it is not only Mr. Reich who is unhappy with Robert Song, but also several of the big forwarders, with one forwarder chief having written to the Cargolux Board in objection to Mr. Song’s appointment. And it now appears that, following Board intervention into the dispute between Mr. Song and Mr. Reich, Mr. Song has applied for a two-week leave of absence due to “overwork.” (Read Alex Lennane’s article here.

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