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Cargolux and Emirates SkyCargo have entered into a partnership, which will see the two carriers making space for each other on their services.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed at this week’s Air Cargo Europe event in Munich, and follows the completion of Cargolux’s strategic review.
Cargolux president and chief executive Richard Forson told The Loadstar both carriers recognised the value of and benefits from an operational alliance.
He said: “This grew from a relationship that started some time back. This then dipped before seeing us get back together again.”
There have been recent rumours going around that Emirates would be looking to ditch its freighter fleet. However, divisional senior vice president Nabil Sultan put these to rest, confirming that Cargolux’s 747s would complement Emirates’ fleet of 777 freighters. Cargolux will be able to utilise both maindeck and bellyhold space across the Emirates fleet.
Mr Forson and Mr Sultan believe their union of a mainline carrier and specialist freighter operator may be an industry first.
“Our combined network will cover 175 destinations across 80 countries,” said Mr Sultan. “We each have strings complementary to one another’s bow.”
From next month, Emirates will operate direct freighter operations into Luxembourg, with Cargolux increasing its frequencies into Dubai World Central.
Also present at the MoU signing was Luxembourg’s minister of sustainable development and infrastructure Francois Bausch, who said he was “very happy” that Luxembourg would be welcoming a new carrier.
Mr Forson said the agreement formed part of the Cargolux 2025 strategy.
“Cargolux 2025 is a move towards reinforcing the Cargolux spirit, as well as cementing our standing as a sustainable – both from a business and environmental perspective – airline,” he told The Loadstar.
“We will improve fleet management and flexibility, diversify sources of income – including in the ACMI market – and become leaner and more agile.”
He said he expected to see results within 18-24 months and that the carrier would also increase automation, digitisation and investment in innovation.
“Of course, we also need to make sure that when we hit good times, we don’t let costs get out of control, as they have a habit of doing,” he said. “When good times come, costs inevitably begin to creep up, and we want to make sure we can prevent this.”
Following an unexpected 2015, which saw the carrier record profits of $49m, 2016’s performance was more muted, at $5.5m. Mr Forson said 2015 had been something of “an outlier”, with the carrier benefiting from US west coast port strikes and automobile recalls.
“An abnormality was responsible for our performance in 2015,” he said. “And, in fact, if you take out fleet impairment charges, we had profits of $45m in 2016.
“Last year started with weak airfreight volumes before exploding in the final quarter. If that happens again this year, we would be incredibly happy.”