Air cargo

Cargolux to hire more pilots than expected on stronger demand

 Cargolux is Europe's biggest all-cargo airline.
Cargolux is Europe's biggest all-cargo airline.
Photo: Guy Jallay

Luxembourg's Cargolux, Europe's biggest all-cargo airline, is to hire more pilots next year than had been anticipated just two months ago, in order to meet demand.

"We are adding 60 pilots for Luxembourg in 2018," Chief Executive Richard Forson told journalists on Thursday.

That compares with a need of "40-50 pilots per year over the next 2-3 years", according to comments last month from Cargolux Head Of Corporate Communications Moa Sigurdardottir.

At present, the company has 469 pilots, Forson said.

Cargolux said its result for 2017 would be about $100 million (€84 million) better than a loss anticipated at the start of the year, Forson said.

He did not give an amount for the loss.

The company has decided to pay employees a bonus before Christmas rather than next year after its corporate results have been finalised.

Forson said, "depending on circumstances next year", the company may also add to its fleet of  Boeing 747-8 and 747-400 freighters.

Any purchase would be from "the used market because it presents value for the airline".

Destinations, Emirates codeshare

Adding new destinations is "under constant review", Forson said.

"A lot of it will depend on the economics, whether we can service the route properly or not," he said.

"But this is where our relationship with Emirates comes into effect in that we are able to offer certain destinations where we don't fly directly but we can buy space off of Emirates. So we can access their global network."

Emirates and Cargolux signed a codesharing agreement in October.
Emirates and Cargolux signed a codesharing agreement in October.
Photo: Pierre Matgé

Emirates SkyCargo and Cargolux signed a codesharing agreement in October.

It allows them to secure cargo capacity on each other's flights and then offer it to their customers under their own air waybills and flight numbers.

It applies to cargo capacity on both passenger and freighter flights. 

Forson said demand was rising in Asia and that its Zhengzhou CGO hub, 455 miles southwest of  China's capital Beijing, was Cargolux's third-largest hub after Luxembourg and Hong Kong.

China's Henan Civil Aviation has held a 35% stake in Cargolux since 2014.

Henan Cargo Airlines is a joint venture airline between the two companies.

On average, there are 150 takeoffs by Cargolux per week with a 70% load factor, which is "significant", Forson said.

That compares with an industry load factor, a measure of capacity utilisation, that is "closing in on 45%", according to the International Air Transport Association's Cargo Strategy document in July.

The IATA represents 265 commercial airlines.

Forson said Luxembourg Airport's infrastructure was "getting towards the maximum" it can handle.

"We have the runway works in 2019, 2020, and, from the airline's perspective, we will have an exercise in March 2018 where we will test our system where we can operate in the restricted hours and address any issues," Forson said.

He did not rule out using another airport.

"We will look at all these scenarios, and the one that makes the best economic sense will be adopted," he said.

"Anything that is within our control we will address."

(Alistair Holloway, alistair.holloway@wort.lu, +352 49 93 39)  

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