In her current role as CEO of terminal and port manager Hamburger Hafen and Logistics AG (HHLA) Angela Titzrath is presumably already working to capacity. But now she is facing a wealth of additional and difficult tasks that call for clear leadership and quick decisions, demanding multi-tasking qualities from the country's most influential female executive in the logistics industry. Becoming a new member of Lufthansa’s Supervisory Board is only one of the upcoming challenges, although a big one.
Mrs. Titzrath’s schedule for the next few months and probably years is likely to be packed to the brim. Apart from her core task as head of Germany's biggest terminal operator, Hamburg owned HHLA (68%), she has four different business areas demanding quick and robust solutions. Thus, she and her top team at HHLA are to press ahead with plans to closing ranks with competitor Eurogate for creating a European stevedoring champion and terminal operator. Talks between the two companies are at an advanced stage, agencies report.
German port alliance coming up
Simultaneously, together with logistics experts and local politicians, Mrs. Titzrath is supposed to increase the competitiveness of the terminals at the major German seaports, among them Hamburg and Bremen. The move is aimed at jointly closing the gap to Rotterdam and Antwerp, whose container volumes have outgrown particularly that of Hamburg during the past 5 to 6 years, leaving Germany’s largest port far behind in terms of container throughput. “Our terminal operators need to drive automation much faster forward in order to become more agile and reduce costs and for reaching the productivity of Rotterdam,” Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Senator for Economics, is quoted as saying by newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt. “Rotterdam managed to achieve an automation level of nearly 40 percent, this is what we should take as benchmark.”
A statement that puts the pressure on Mrs. Titzrath and her management for upping HHLA’s productivity fast and that of Eurogate as well once the partnership deal is inked.
No political yes-men
The government in Berlin also seems to have high expectations on her ability as a crisis manager. Not only on hers, but also those of Michael Kerkloh, the former CEO of Munich Airport. Suggested by the Lufthansa Board of Directors and in consultation with the government, both are shortly to be mandated a seat on the airline's 20 members comprising Controlling Board.
The reason for the appointment of two government-certified managers to the board is the recently adopted rescue package for keeping LH afloat. According to the package, the airline will receive stabilization measures and loans of 9 billion euros. This means that 23 years after the carrier’s full privatization in 1997, the German state again holds a 20 percent share in the company, which automatically gives the government the right to appoint 2 candidates of the politician’s choice to the controlling board. However, it is not to be expected that Kerkloh or Titzrath will see themselves as the mouthpiece of the government and influence operational decisions of the Executive Board. Instead, just sitting there and nodding off decisions is neither in the self-image of Titzrath and Kerkloh. On the contrary, particularly the former Chief of Munich Airport, who retired only 9 months ago, is well acquainted with Lufthansa’s policies. And with Titzrath someone comes in who has an unobstructed view of the company's development from the outside.
Crisis as chance
Both of them will certainly have a say in matters such as the discussed partial sale of Lufthansa Technik in order to quickly inject capital into the parent company. Another topic that will certainly be discussed is whether the Group can afford to continue to operate Vienna, Zurich and Brussels as hubs in addition to Frankfurt and Munich for cost reasons. Seen from a synergy angle, this is not very efficient, evidenced by the double and triple structures that this kind of aviation policy requires.
Jobs will also be at stake, short-time work or even redundancies, in order to get costs under control if the corona crisis blocks aviation in the longer term.
The restructuring of Lufthansa from a company that has been earning good money from business passengers on long-haul routes to an airline that is focusing more on the cheaper tourist segment and is currently launching its own subsidiary Ocean for this purpose, will be a main topic at the upcoming meetings of the Supervisory Board. "Lufthansa now has the ideal opportunity to streamline its portfolio and to regain and consistently expand its previous market leadership in Europe," CargoForwarder was told by an SB member. And he also said this: "We will probably hardly ever discuss Lufthansa Cargo issues. The freight carrier has done a terrific job over the past few months.” Just how good can be seen when taking a look at the half-year figures.
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