Global insight

Bumper year for Cargolux but Chinese venture is held up

Bumper year for Cargolux but Chinese venture is held up

CARGOLUX’S bumper financial year – boasting US$122.3m net profits – takes the sting out of the all-cargo carrier’s ongoing pilots shortage and its stalled new Chinese airline venture.

Between April 2018 and 2017, the Luxembourg airline says its freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) increased by 12.3 per cent, whilst its load factor rose to 70.1 per cent.

For the first time in the company’s history, the cargo carrier flew more than one million tonnes of freight and generated 131,212 block-hours, a seven per cent increase in comparison with the same period the previous year, notes a corporate statement.

The airline group also claims its global market share has now reached four per cent.

Richard Forson, president and chief executive of Cargolux, was quick to commend his personnel team. “The outstanding results for 2017 are a reflection of Cargolux’s employees’ dedication, passion and commitment to make this year a successful one on all fronts.”

Cargolux faces setback in establishing new airline

However the cargo carrier’s China-focused strategy, aimed at gaining a stronger foothold in that fast-growing commercial air transport market, is caught in headwinds. Cargolux is facing another setback in launching its new Chinese joint-venture because of the ‘temporarily suspended’ processing of air operator certificates (AOCs) by Chinese authorities, aircargoeye.com learns.

It is understood the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has taken this action because of an unprecedented high demand for new applications, writes Thelma Etim.

The Luxembourg all-cargo carrier must obtain the certificate from CAAC before it can register Henan Cargo Airlines (HCA) as a new business, in which it holds a 25 per cent stake.

Seventy-five per cent of shares in Henan Cargo are held by the Henan Civil Aviation Development and Investment Co (HNCA), the Henan Airport Group, and the Xinggang Investment Group Company, which represents the Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone.

This is a major blow for Cargolux, which has already announced the first flight for the new carrier is planned for “the fourth quarter of 2018,” in a media statement published on 12 June 2017.

Pilots shortage

The Luxembourg-based airline, which currently operates between 19 and 25 weekly flights to mainland China, carried more than of 250,000 tonnes of freight to and from The People’s Republic – including 147,000 tonnes to and from its Zhengzhou hub – during last year, reveals the corporate statement.

Meanwhile, the company’s ongoing struggle to recruit flight-deck staff was keenly felt over Christmas and the New Year, when over-bookings of charter flights – during the period when some of its pilots took their pre-planned holidays – resulted in operational chaos.

More than 100 flights were delayed between 29 and 31 December 2017, and a further 97 services from 6 January 2018 through to 8 January were held up.

The all-cargo carrier undertook a number of roadshows last year to recruit more captains and first officers for its Luxembourg hub and for the new Chinese carrier.

Back in 2016, aircargoeye.com obtained a feasibility study carried out by consultancy Roland Berger, which revealed the hurdles the Luxembourg carrier would have to overcome to get the dedicated Chinese airline, formerly known as Cargolux China, off the ground.

Aircargoeye.com has contacted the Cargolux press office for a response to this story and is awaiting a reply.

Read more stories about Cargolux here

Have your say