Cargolux is maintaining its status as an important industry player by remaining nimble and open to new partnerships. The air cargo industry is highly exposed to swings in international markets, hence the strategy of becoming a true global player. Company chairman Paul Helminger explained how developing a presence and services in China are thus an important step.
What are Cargolux’s competitive advantages?
We have an extremely good reputation. We are number seven worldwide and we are performing slightly better than most in the market, even at a time when yields are under pressure. I think this is down to our quality and flexibility, both of which come from our deep desire to understand our customers.
What is special about your service offering?
We are known for our ability to turn around an aircraft in Luxembourg in at little as 90 minutes. We currently hold the world record for maximising the time our fleet is in the air. At the moment our planes are flying around 15 hours on average out of every 24, and we are targeting 17 hours. As well as this efficiency, our home base is well equipped, with facilities such as the freeport for dealing with high value goods. Also being an all cargo carrier gives us the flexibility to meet our clients’ varying needs.
What are your investments plans?
We presently have 22 aircraft in our fleet, with a further three arriving by 2017. This will give us the capacity to handle the increase in volume we are expecting. For example, we are aiming for 8–10 flights a week to Zhengzhou by the end of this year. This will come on top of additional flights to Beijing and Shanghai.
How do you see the development of business with China?
We are playing an important role in the movement of electronic goods manufactured in China to Europe and beyond. Meanwhile, we transport European and other high-value goods into China. This dynamic will gain a further push with the development of the Lux Fresh dual hub strategy between Luxembourg and Zhengzhou in Henan province. The area around Zhengzhou has almost 300 million people and this will be linked to Europe’s 500 million citizens. Europe has to be aware that the quality of service is going to become a very important factor when trading with China. Speed is only one part of it, with the transportation of perishable goods also becoming increasingly important.
How is your relationship with the investor group HNCA developing?
Luxembourg’s work with the HNCA [Henan Civil Aviation and Investment Co] is goes beyond the dual hub strategy. We are talking with HNCA about how they can become an integral part of the Cargolux network. This could lead to us gaining routes for which we do not have rights intra-Asia, as well as Asia to Africa. That is a gigantic opportunity. Our Chinese partners have shown us to be as good as their word and have offered us great support, and we have strong hopes that this will continue.