TIACA’s list of honorary members is long and full of distinguished names of people who have made their distinctive mark on the cargo industry. Issa Baluch, Ram Menen, Bill Bosch, Jo Sutter, and Klaus-Michael Kuehne are among 50 other veterans who shaped the air freight business over the past decades. Hall of Fame member number 55 is Larry Coyne, the founder and owner of Coyne Airways. CFG spoke with him shortly after TIACA’s announcement.
Larry, congratulations on the well-deserved award. What were your first feelings upon hearing TIACA’s decision?
LC: If I am not mistaken, I was among nine other nominees standing on the organization’s shortlist. Certainly, all very honorable and deserving individuals who have driven our industry forward. Therefore, I am all the more pleased that the committee chose me in the end.
Most of the HOF members have made a lasting impact on the air cargo industry. When you look at the list of names, are there any personalities you would like to highlight?
LC: They all are distinguished industry leaders with three of them being my personal favorites:
On top of my list stands Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, who revolutionized the package delivery services, introducing the hub and spoke system.
The second name I would like to mention, is that of British Air Commodore Reginald Waite, who conceived the Berlin Airlift during the Soviet blockade after WW 2, using air power to fly supplies into a city of 2.5 million people, thus sparing the world a nuclear war.
My third candidate is Joe Sutter. He is the man who built the B747 after Boeing had given a higher priority to building the SST Supersonic Transporter and the B737. Even until today, Boeing’s Jumbos are indispensable for cargo transports.
You are still active for your company every single day. Yet looking back, what were your most important decisions in all those years since the inception of Coyne Aviation in 1994?
LC: Entrepreneurial spirit from day one and pushing into niches that offer new business opportunities. When I incepted Coyne Airways, a lot of airlines had their own staff, maintenance, sales, and other units. We never had that sort of overhead. Nor do we even possess any aircraft. Instead, we charter them depending on market demand, supplying goods to regions like central Asia or parts of Africa that are underserved. This has worked pretty well so far.
No setbacks or disappointments?
LC: Of course, setbacks sometimes do happen. But usually, they rather stimulate me and increase my motivation.
How do you see your future role in TIACA - as a kind of elder statesman or as someone who gets involved in the association’s day-to-day business?
LC: More like an elder statesman. I am a member of the Council giving advice to the current leadership, which, by the way, is doing a great job.
Touching the current situation, this question has to be raised: How has Coyne Airways gotten through the pandemic so far?
So far, we have come through it quite well, which will be shown in our annual results. The fact that we are doing well, but that the world is going through one of the worst crises because of Covid-19, is a discrepancy that we very much regret. We hope that the vaccines will ease the situation in the coming months.
Finally, an issue which has little to do with TIACA: Imagine you were Prime Minister of the UK: what 3 decisions would you take immediately before the turn of the year?
LC: Only one decision I would take: to reverse the Brexit disaster. It is the worst vote made by the UK in hundreds of years. People were not told the truth of the outcome right from the beginning. And the ones who push Brexit through don’t seem to know what they are really doing and what a terrible mess they are creating.
The world is going to bigger units, while the UK is going the opposite way, which might be resisted by Scotland and Wales that are pro EU. Our government wants to leave the club but maintain all the benefits the EU offers. This can’t work.
Larry, thank you for this interview.
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