Cargolux year a “disaster”

ULRICH Ogiermann, president and chief executive officer of Cargolux, has branded 2009 a “disaster” for the company. Ogiermann said that a year of poor demand and heavy fines will leave the carrier with a “three-digit million loss”.This year Cargolux has to pay the first of five US$19 million annual fines to the US Department of Justice for its part in the airfreight price-fixing cartel of 2001-2006, on top of an unprecedented drop in demand.“We have suffered this year under a dual effect: We had fewer flights and we had to carry less value,” said Ogiermann. “[Our aircraft] were utilised an average of four per cent less and yield was on average 20 to 25 per cent below the previous year.”Ogeirmann mentioned how this year Cargolux’s freighters, which are used to only a two-hour stopover on the apron loading and unloading have often been there all day.Some routes were particularly badly hit with some freighters flying full to Dubai but then empty on to Hong Kong.“The utilization is better,” he said, “but we are simply dealing with a catch-up effect: the warehouses are empty. We have reached the bottom.”Ogierman estimated that 2007 tonnage levels would not be seen until 2012 or 2013 and 2008 levels of income only by 2013 or 2014.At the carrier’s recent shareholders’ meeting, SAirlines, part of the defunct Swissair Group, sold its 33.7 per cent stake in Cargolux to other shareholders Luxair, Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat and Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement.The shareholders also gave their approval for a capital injection of US$100 million, to happen before the end of the year.Marc Hoffmann, chairman of the Cargolux board, said: “The shareholders’ preparedness to support the company is a strong signal to the other stakeholders of the company and an act of faith in the long-term future of the company.“The intention of the shareholders, who participated in the SAirlines shares buy-out, is to replace those shares with a strategic, long-term holder. Discussions with interested parties have already commenced.”Ogeirmann said: “The recapitalisation of the company will enable Cargolux to modernise its fleet with more efficient and less polluting technology starting in 2010. This is a crucial contributor to our turnaround plan.”Luxair will now hold the majority stake of 52.1 per cent, up from it’s previous 34.9 per cent.Also, the following have been appointed to the Cargolux board: Frank Reimen, representing the shareholder Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, as well as Françoise Thoma and Jean-Claude Knebeler, representing Luxair.The following also joined the board as representatives of the Cargolux staff: Astrid Mosel-Kneip, Pierre-Olivier Edouard, George Karambilas, Fred Lopes Da Silva and David Massaro.

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