Lorenzo Stoll (LS) took the reins at Swiss WorldCargo on 01APR21, following Ashwin Bhat who moved on to become Chief Commercial Officer at Lufthansa Cargo. In an interview with CargoForwarder Global, Mr. Stoll outlines his responsibilities, talks about priorities, expresses appreciation for the Swiss airline's cargo division and its staff, and ventures a forecast on Swiss WorldCargo’s role in 2025.
CFG: Lorenzo, given Swiss’ limited flight activities due to the pandemic, it is not exactly the best time to be starting a new assignment. Correct?
LS: The external circumstances could, indeed, be rosier. However, the scaling back of passenger flights, coupled with high demand for cargo capacity, has opened the door to a wide range of business opportunities which we have taken advantage of thanks to a high degree of flexibility. For example, we have greatly expanded our charter services, i.e. leasing passenger aircraft to interested parties, who have used them to fly their own consignments. At the same time, we operated many so-called “preighter” flights in our responsibility. This also affects the fleet of Edelweiss, Swiss International Air Lines’ leisure carrier.
CFG: Did your preighter flights generate money, or were some of them loss-making?
LS: We wouldn’t have operated a single flight if it had not improved our cash flow. Hence, we have made and continue to make profits, easing the financial pressure on our parent company this way.
CFG: You are only a few days in office. What’s your program for the first 100 days?
LS: Working, learning, speaking with the staff. Although I have been with Swiss for 7 years, I first must get to know my colleagues at Swiss WorldCargo. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, this is only possible via video call.
Simultaneously, I must introduce myself to customers, to talk to them about our role as a Premium Belly freight carrier and where they think we should optimize processes and operations to become their first-choice cargo carrier in terms of efficiency, product offering, services rendered, and reliability.
Last, but not least, driving digitalization further ahead is paramount. Despite remarkable developments, there is still too much paper in the global supply chain when it comes to transmitting or storing data. We want to help shape the digitalization of the industry based on our best practices model and take it to a higher level.
CFG: Sounds like little sleep and a lot of work in the coming weeks.
LS: I’m extremely proud of our strong team that has achieved remarkable successes developing Swiss World Cargo over the years to a globally well-respected brand, guided and shaped by my predecessors, Oliver Evans and Ashwin Bhat. Post-Corona and with the New Normal just around the corner, this high-level position must be maintained and, where possible, even expanded or further fine-tuned. So, the tasks that lie ahead are spread over many shoulders, of which I have only two.
CFG: How would you describe your leadership style?
LS: The spotlight is on teamwork. The times of top-down decisions are definitely over.
CFG: What influence does your cargo division have on fleet and network decisions taken by Swiss Air Lines?
LS: We still want to be the heroes in 2025 and beyond. But this only works if we are involved in fleet and route issues, and our market analyses are incorporated into the decision-making process. This has been the case so far, as my colleagues have told me, and will continue to be so through close exchange with the Group's management. As to ‘next normal’ and the resulting new challenges for Swiss’ flight program, we are in close discussion with the Group to act jointly.
CFG: How high is SWC's contribution to the total sales of Swiss Air Lines?
LS: In the long-haul segment, at times it was up to 40% of intercontinental contribution during the pandemic. But normally it is considerably lower.
CFG: Since the outbreak of the pandemic, air freight – generally speaking – has overcome its niche status and plays a more central role for airlines. Will this last once passenger traffic experiences an upturn?
LS: Looking beyond the Swiss horizon, I believe that the incredible contribution of air freight in providing people with medical products and hygiene articles during the pandemic, has significantly improved the reputation of the industry. It is now our job to do everything we can to ensure that this positive image based on reliability and good service will last.
CFG: Suppose you were conducting this interview on 31DEC21. How would you sum up the fiscal outcome and describe your own role as Head of Swiss WorldCargo after 9 months in office?
LS: We are satisfied with the business results of air freight in 2021. That's what I hope to be able to say then. But, today, I already know a second aspect that I would then emphasize: As a person, I am absolutely delighted with Swiss WorldCargo. I was given the opportunity to discover a new facet of the aviation industry, to get to know colleagues who contribute an incredible amount of expertise, commitment, and dedication, and who act rather than react in their day-to-day work. This aspect I would put at the beginning of my résumé.
CFG: Thank you for this interview. HS
About Lorenzo Stoll:
Lorenzo Stoll joined SWISS as its Head of Western Switzerland in 2013, and, together with his team, has since achieved the turnaround of the company’s Geneva business and operations. With his broad experience in the consumer goods segment, and his focus on the customer, Lorenzo Stoll has enhanced the airline’s product and service quality. His success in Western Switzerland was assisted by the extensive deployment of SWISS’s advanced and efficient Airbus A220 aircraft fleet out of Geneva. Under his leadership, SWISS created over 200 new jobs at its Geneva location. The appointment as cargo boss was preceded by an invitation to tender.
The 49-year-old Swiss national originally comes from the Italian-speaking, southern part of the country.
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