Fraport in Search for New Head of Cargo

Dirk Schusdziara exits his post as Senior Vice President Cargo at airport operator Fraport AG after holding this position only since June of 2015. The 47 year-old will step up the career ladder becoming head of commercial affairs at the Fraport sub-division Airside &Terminal Management, Corporate Strategy and Security (FTU).

Schusdziara’s successor will have much work to do in cargo at Rhine-Main  -  courtesy FRA
Schusdziara’s successor will have much work to do in cargo at Rhine-Main - courtesy FRA

Dirk’s departure from the airport’s cargo division, effective 1 October, is part of a major staff rotation at airport operator Fraport that runs a worldwide network. Details are mentioned in an internal letter of Rhine-Main CEO Stefan Schulte and his Executive Board colleagues, dated 17 July. In the notification it says that the post at FTU will become vacant as its current head Lars Mosdorf was nominated CFO Finances and IT at Northern Capital Gateway, the operator of Saint Petersburg Pulkovo Airport in Russia, in which Fraport AG holds 25 percent. At Saint Petersburg, the manager succeeds Andrea Pal who was nominated CEO of Fraport Brasil S.A.

Fine words
People close to the case wonder about the Executive Board’s decision to exempt Schusdziara from his current obligations after his rather short tenure as cargo chief since June of 2015 and assign him a new managerial role. This all the more since in public the manager enthusiastically campaigned for more efficient and reliable air cargo processes. In a meeting with media he said that the industry is facing tremendous changes triggered by new developments and technical demands. Speaking of Frankfurt’s future role in cargo he exclaimed that the airport aims to become a leader in innovation.
The above are fine words that his successor will have to put into practice once nominated by the board. His heir will also have to repair the damaged relation to the tenants doing business in the airport’s CargoCity South or North, mostly forwarding and ground handling agents. A poisoned conflict initiated by the Fraport bosses who retrospectively demanded high remuneration from their clients for investments in the ground infrastructure. Although the topic is off the table meanwhile, except for some remaining minor differences, the climate between both sides is still rather frosty.

Stagnating business
This all the more since many forwarders complain about the Fraport management’s lack of interest in air freight matters. This is evidenced by traffic statistics that show a stagnation of cargo throughput in recent years at Europe’s once leading freight airport. While in 2014, 2.08 million tons were recorded, it was 2.03 million a year after and 2.06 million in 2016. Simultaneously, competitors like Amsterdam, Paris CDG, Liege or Munich gained much ground. At Frankfurt, it remains to be seen if the volume increase of 5.3 percent since January of this year is the beginning of a sustained upward trend or merely a flash in the pan.

Playing the third or fourth fiddle
Frankfurt insiders hold that Dirk’s upcoming departure casts a poor light on the management’s staffing choices, showing their rather low appreciation for cargo affairs. Instead of leaving him at his post for a longer period to drive the projects further ahead that were started under his stewardship like the “Innovation Lab”, a platform for exchanging ideas, his successor will first have to get familiarized with Frankfurt’s wide-spread cargo community and the peculiarities characterizing the local air freight business before pushing things further forward and setting own accents. Therefore, there is a widespread apprehension within the local air freight community that topics like increased low cost traffic (Ryanair etc.), the building of an additional passenger terminal and the ongoing quarrel with the airport’s main client Lufthansa will dominate Rhine-Main’s agenda in the near future with cargo playing only a side role.

Heiner Siegmund

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