Around one hundred handpicked guests followed Lufthansa Cargo’s call last Wednesday to say goodbye to the carrier’s former Head of Product and Sales, Andreas Otto who became CCO at Austrian Airlines. Among the invitees were many big shots from renowned forwarding agents which had come to pay their personal tribute to an extraordinary manager that became not only Lufthansa Cargo’s figurehead but a flagship of the air freight industry as such.
What an extraordinary ambience – the ancient castle Jagdschloss Platte in Wiesbaden near Frankfurt, many hons coming from near and far, a lot of hugging and cheering and spotlights that
illuminated just one person – cargo icon Andreas Otto. It was one of these almost magic, somehow fantastic, unforgettable and graceful events hardly any participant will forget. Least of all
Andreas himself who must have experienced the evening like a film running in fast motion, illustrating the main stages of his fourteen year career as Head of Product and Sales and Board member at
his meanwhile former employer LH Cargo.
For him it was hard work and a constant learning process, before gaining today’s status as a cargo icon. More than fourteen years back, when Andreas started his career at LH Cargo he was confronted with a lot of mistrust and suspicion expressed behind closed doors by many forwarding agents. Why? Because he confronted them with painful facts: “They make a lot of money without taking great financial burdens, whereas we as an airline have to invest heavily into assets before earning a single cent. This potential/risk ratio is very unbalanced. What we demand as an airline is a service-based risk partnership with our customers,” was his constant message he spread both at home and abroad about a decade ago.
From irritation to friendship
Today, Andreas recalls: “First they were irritated when being confronted with my blunt words, but some time later this turned into better understanding and mutual respect. Meanwhile I can say that quite a number of agents and I have become good friends.”
Which does not mean that he threw his basic beliefs overboard to please the agents.
One of those biz partners Herr Otto became a close friend with is Managing Director Archie da Silva of Jet-Speed who rushed over from Hong Kong to honor Andreas. “He came from waste management and has become a cargo figurehead. We not only are good business partners but have become close personal friends over the years,” he emphasized in his much acclaimed very witty, entertaining and charming address.
Living cargo legend
Dachser’s Managing Director Air & Sea Logistics Thomas Reuter spoke of Andreas as individual who belongs to the scarce specimen that still value the word and the handshake. By addressing him directly Thomas said: “you are unpretentious, charismatic and sincere. With your innate nomadic tendency you now decided to leave Frankfurt and move over to Vienna to navigate Austrian Airlines to prosperous shores.” Tiger Andreas is taking over a new territory, Dachser man Reuter drew an analogy. “As a business partner I will miss you!”, he concluded his speech.
“Austrian can be proud to have netted such a CCO,” Lufthansa Cargo’s CEO Peter Gerber said in his speech. Having spent more than fourteen years with the carrier “Andreas has become a living legend of the cargo business,” Peter stressed.
Challenging AUA tasks
At his new job as Austrian’s CCO Andreas Otto’s task will not become any easier in the future. The carrier, traditionally strong in Eastern Europe and Russia, is facing difficulties in those markets as reaction to the Crimea and Ukraine conflict and the deterioration of relations between the European Union and Russia. Also, flights to some of the Arabian countries are under increasing pressure. “Due to the ongoing political unrest we’ve stopped serving Tripoli,” Otto said. Altogether these are losses “that cannot be fully compensated,” he admits.
So what’s the alternative? “Trying to shift capacity to the leisure sector, by increasingly targeting the growing tourism market,” the manager is keen to find adequate solutions to get out of the current dilemma caused by external circumstances.
Air freight remains being part of his AUA responsibilities. In his new role as an AUA executive he just signed a contract with his former firm guaranteeing LH Cargo exclusive access to the lower deck capacity of AUA’s passenger fleet for the coming years. The financial specifics of this commercial deal Andreas does not reveal.
Von Hoensbroech succeeds Otto
Otto’s splendid farewell party was also a suitable occasion to present the guests to Alexis von Hoensbroech as the new VP Product & Sales and member of Lufthansa Cargo’s Executive Board. Coming from the airline’s passenger unit the former astrophysicist asked for admitting him some time to better get to know the air freight biz before delivering relevant information to the media.
Last week he only described some general first impressions he had meanwhile gained. “I’m pretty impressed by the high level of professionalism and identification of the staff with their job and the company,” he said. “In my eyes Lufthansa Cargo is very much at the forefront of the industry,” he went on to say. To assure that this will remain that way in future.
Alexis officially takes over his new assignment on December 1.