Peter Gerber has survived his first major test. When the Lufthansa Cargo pilots went on strike last week, not one of the airline’s 21 scheduled flights was cancelled. The new head of the airfreight division can now turn his attention once again to a major restructuring program expected to lead to massive changes between now and 2020.
The flight path is already clear. The carrier will have to either modernize radically or gradually disappear from the cargo market – as happened recently to competitors British Airways and Air France. The industry is fraught with challenges, including weak demand for air cargo worldwide and growing competition from Persian Gulf airlines, which use the cargo holds of their passenger aircraft on intercontinental routes. In the first nine months of 2014, Lufthansa Cargo lost 3.2 percent of its freight volume, suffering significant losses especially in Europe and on routes to Africa.
“We are investing more than €2 billion ($2.53 billion) overall to secure future growth,” said Mr. Gerber in his first interview since he was appointed head of Lufthansa Cargo in May, after serving as chief of personnel with the passenger division.
There are three core elements to his Lufthansa Cargo 2020 strategy.