KLM Cargo’s Revolving Door

Bram Graeber’s upcoming departure as the head of Air France-KLM Cargo once again leaves the door “revolving”! at the KLM cargo department.
He is but one of a list of cargo managers at the troubled carrier who have left this post in the past few years.

Cargo Chief Bram Graeber exits AF-KL-MP Cargo  -  picture: hs
Cargo Chief Bram Graeber exits AF-KL-MP Cargo - picture: hs

Bram’s departure which is to be effective as of 1. June, is not totally unexpected as he made it clear in 2015 when taking up the task, that his position at AF-KL Cargo was only of a temporary basis. The decision to depart was entirely his said a KLM spokesman.
However, less than a year in the seat is very temporary.
Mr Graeber took over last year when Erik Varwijk suddenly stepped down from the cargo hot seat. Graeber joined KLM in 1995 and was previously director of KLM Netherlands and just before taking up the helm at the cargo department, was running the operation at KLM’s passenger subsidiary, Transavia.
He will move to Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. as its group director Maritime Services for the Offshore Energy division.
Quite a different playground to the airline scene of which Bram was a part of for more than 20 years.

Nobody seems to want to stay long
Some internal voices within KLM have in the past few years made no secret of the fact that they see themselves at a disadvantage due to what some consider as the heavy handed control and decision making from the Air France head office in Paris.
The losses in the cargo sector of the Dutch-French carrier have reduced somewhat dur-ing the past twelve months. This is mainly due to the continued reduction of the freighter fleets of Air France, KLM and mores, Martinair.
But, they are still making too much of an unnecessary operational loss on cargo.

Many shippers and freight agents seem to have deserted from the KLM cargo camp as they are still not convinced that the carrier will want to, or have a reliable air cargo product in the coming years.
On top of this, the constant change in cargo managers does not exactly give the market the confidence that either Air France or KLM really want to give the airfreight scene the priority it needs to develop in the future.

Reduced cargo fleet and restrictive policy regarding new carriers
The all-cargo aircraft fleet has diminished to a very small number of freighters and once the numerous B747-Combi’s in KLM’s fleet disappear there will be little left on capacity for shippers and agents to warrant supporting the cargo side.
Of course, KLM is replacing the 747-Combi fleet with Boeing 787 Dreamliners. However, it does not take an expert to figure out the difference in payload on offer between the 787 underfloor compartment and the Combi’s upper deck space.
Schiphol Airport and the Air Cargo Netherlands members have strongly voiced their fear that the airport will lose out altogether as a main European cargo hub.

Many also see that KLM does not support the issuing of landing rights for other or new all freighter flights. If so, then this is surely a negative restrictive policy, which can only be adjusted if the Dutch government in the form of its Transport Ministry takes things in hand.

Who will succeed Bram Graeber, or better said, who really wants to take up this position?

John Mc Donagh

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Rob de Frel (Wednesday, 09 March 2016 09:45)

    So true, so sad John!