The Italian newcomer expects to receive its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Italian regulator Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile either next week or shortly after. Once obtained, the first flight will most likely take place in the second half of July and to the Far East, states Chief Commercial Officer, Ulrich Ogiermann (UO). The imminent market entry of the newcomer has put Aliscargo on the forwarding industry’s radar, especially the northern Italian one. “We are determined to live up to the expectations voiced by market players following the announcement of our plans,” states Mr. Ogiermann. However, for a foreseeable period Aliscargo’s habitat will resemble that of a small fish in a big pond full of sharks, the manager illustrates in this interview.
CFG: After leading management positions at Cargolux, Qatar Airways, and most recently at CargoLogic Germany, you are now back in the industry as CCO of Aliscargo. What attracted you to this job?
UO: I have been quite closely associated with the Italian market over many years. In my former role as CEO of Cargolux, I incepted Cargolux Italia back in 2008, strongly supported by our stakeholders. Some of the connections have lasted since then, particularly with Francesco Rebaudo, the former head of Cargolux Italia. The same goes for Alcide Leali, the main initiator of Aliscargo who, as founder of Air Dolomiti, knows how to successfully establish an airline in the market. In addition, northern Italy is a hotspot for companies active in the cargo business because of the region’s industrial density.
CFG: Aliscargo is a small start-up with a manageable capital base and structures that have so far lacked transparency. Would you agree?
UO: We have a fully transparent, agile, and dedicated structure. We are certainly a niche player compared to the big boys, but we are a very responsive and flexible company, full of entrepreneurial spirit and dedication, able to react immediately if market situations should change. These core abilities distinguish us from the less agile players.
CFG: A word about the fleet policy?
UO: Currently, all-cargo aircraft are not obtainable unless you are willing to pay an astronomical price. That said, we decided to start operations with two B777-200 aircraft leased from Boeing, where the former passenger aircraft have been reconfigured to temporary semi-freighters. This allows for normal belly transportation and loose loading of cargo on the passenger main deck. The lease, which I can't go into detail about because of the agreed confidentiality, allows us some flexibility in fleet development, depending on the market situation. As the aircraft lack a large cargo door, the main deck can only be loaded manually, i.e., with smaller and relatively light shipments.
For the product, this means that we will initially focus on transporting e-commerce items between the Far East, and different places in Europe and North America. Especially for this segment there is currently a very high air transport demand on which we intend to capitalize.
CFG: Is the setting up of a network an option, i.e., offering the market fixed routes and frequencies?
UO: This cannot be ruled out, but the step requires completely different structures, particularly a hub and spoke system served by a large freighter fleet, dedicated Cargo Sales Agents, and a large number of headcounts. That’s still pie in the sky and not our imminent target. At this point, we are focusing on launching flights, serving niche markets, delivering quality to our customers, and making a name for ourselves. The current demand encourages us to consistently follow this path.
CFG: What is your financial forecast? When will the break-even point be reached?
UO: As quickly as possible 😊. We can't afford economic dry spells, because we don't have gold bars in our safe.
CFG: Uli, thank you for this interview.
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