The competition in this fast growing market stretching from Poland to Israel is tough, particularly in Turkey. To not only defend but strengthen its leading position Lufthansa Cargo intends to increase focus on transporting oil and gas shipments and push high-yield express and special products ahead.
The figures are impressive and surely monitored with great interest by quite a number of cargo carriers. According to CASS statistics, express shipments leaped 27 percent from August 2013 to
August of this year in Central and Eastern Europe, including Turkey and Israel, with air mail having grown at a similar rate. The performance of temperature sensitive items increased 23 percent
within the same period was also quite remarkable.
Significant market share
This data, however, is incomplete since most of the Balkan states are not CASS compliant, which means that their export volumes and product variety that they contributed to the total tonnage can only be estimated.
In Lufthansa Cargo’s view the main message of all this statistical information is that the carrier defended its position as market leader in Central and Eastern Europe by securing 20.1 percent of the total market share within the defined period. A satisfying result in the Cargo Crane’s eyes in view of the stiff competition mainly by the state subsidized Gulf airlines, leading to severe pressure on the rates. “They try to buy market shares by constantly undercutting our prices per kilogram by five or some more cents,” stated a Lufthansa Cargo executive while commenting on the curves, tables and graphs in informal talks aside a press briefing last week in Istanbul.
So what to do if price-wise the race cannot be won? “It’s the quality of our product and our dedicated services we are better at and can constantly score with,” Hasso Schmidt, Director Central/Eastern Europe explains. The manager points out that during the first half of 2014 LH Cargo got 81 out of 100 points in the Overall Satisfaction Index, a customer survey tool that takes place every six months.
The criteria range from customer services rendered, complaincy, claim and transport management or product offerings, among others. “We motivate our clients to deliver information on shipments as
early as possible enabling us to set up a precise capacity plan,” Hasso states. This way, offloads and stranding boxes can be avoided. The guide further reveals: all other cargo carriers were
rated by the Customer Service Index with an average of 73 points, way below LH Cargo’s result.
Lufthansa Cargo’s business in Central and Eastern Europe is coordinated by its Vienna hub. The region comprises of 37 stations in 19 countries with 260 people working there. In addition to the holds of the many passenger flights operated by Lufthansa and its subsidiary Austrian Airlines, LH Cargo deploys an MD-11F three times weekly on the roundtrip Frankfurt-Tel Aviv-Istanbul-Frankfurt. “We share the capacity 50/50 with Tel Aviv,” Hasan Hatipoglu explains; General Manager Turkey. He points out that his team’s responsibilities include selling belly capacity of leisure carrier Sun Express, a 50/50 joint venture of Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa. They operate a fleet of sixty-two Boeing 737-800s and seven 737-700s mainly on routes from Central Europe to Antalya and Izmir. “This way, we can offer clients uplifts of their goods at four Turkish cities: Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Antalya,” Hasan notes. In total, LH operates 59 flights weekly to and from Turkey, with Sun Express which adds up to 180 flights a week. In addition, scheduled road feeder services between Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir complement the package.
Focus on Africa
The main commodities are automotive parts, textiles, electronics and construction equipment. “Lately, shipments to Africa have become increasingly interesting for us,” Hasso Schmidt says. Flying drilling equipment to airports located near oil and gas fields for instance. In order to capture part of this biz LH Cargo has set up a special team that offers customers tailored solutions either by utilizing the capacity of the airline’s own fleet or if necessary, chartering big Antonov freighters. “Offering the market best practice solutions for the fast transport of oil and gas equipment is our latest project we have set up.” states Hasso. The team responsible for managing this particular business is based in Frankfurt and available 24/7 via hotline.