This is a story of people, animals, air and land transportation, and misinterpretations. In the leading role: Lufthansa Cargo. Place of the action: Europe, between Norway and Italy. The plot ends at a garbage plant. However, the consequences of this case have yet to be decided.
This is what happened: On 05JUL22, a shipment of king crabs was picked up by DB Schenker at the warehouse of Norwegian exporter, Silver Seafood AS, and forwarded to Oslo (OSL) Airport. There,
Schenker handed over the live animals to Lufthansa Cargo, which flew them on board LH867 to Frankfurt (FRA). They were scheduled to leave Rhine-Main Airport on board LH282, bound to Bologna in
northern Italy. However, they got stuck in FRA and were rebooked by Lufthansa Cargo on a flight that departed a day later (07JUL22), arriving in Bologna (BLQ) at night. Due to the late arrival,
the customer, a company from San Marino in Italy, would have needed to wait until the morning of the following day (08JUL22), to retrieve the goods.
A spoiled shipment
Since the live king crabs were packed in Norway in the early morning of 05JUL22, 72 hours would have elapsed by the time the consignee would have gotten the crabs back to his storage facility. The average lifespan of a boxed live king crab is 40 hours. So, the importing firm assumed that most, if not all, of the animals would be dead by the time they would have arrived at his warehouse on 08JUL22. Thus, the entire shipment, worth EUR 13,000, ended up at a special waste disposal plant in Bologna.
It’s PAS, not PES, stupid!
So far, so bad. But now it gets complicated.
On 06JUL22, at 09:22, Silver Seafood’s freight forwarder (Schenker) received an email from Lufthansa Cargo’s Oslo station. Quote: “An embargo was introduced on all PAS via FRA this week. What slipped through the fingers of what we had to rebook or cancel, was your crabs for BLQ.”
On the basis of this email from Lufthansa Cargo in Oslo, Silver Seafood submitted a claim to Lufthansa Cargo (via their agent Schenker). It reads: “Our main argument in the claim is that Lufthansa Cargo had introduced an embargo for PAS this week. [However], the embargo was known since at least Friday [01JUL22, HS] of the week before the embargo.”
In plain language, Lufthansa Cargo had accepted and transported a shipment that they should not have taken on in the first place due to the embargo imposed on these highly sensitive goods.
The end of the process in a nutshell: The Norwegian shipper’s claim was rejected by the air carrier, arguing that there were bottlenecks and circumstances outside of their [Lufthansa Cargo’s, HS] control that justified that the live animals could not be flown as booked from FRA to BLQ. Silver Seafood then submitted a second claim referring to Lufthansa Cargo’s Oslo station’s statement. However, this request was also turned down. This time, Lufthansa Cargo argued that there was an embargo on PAS (passive cooling), and not on PES products (frozen fish), and that the shipment was erroneously labeled as PES and not as PAS, which would have been correct. The explanation ended with the admittance that Silver Seafood received false information from the carrier’s station in Oslo. Despite this “regrettable misinformation”, they apologized but maintained their position, telling the shipper that the second claim was also insubstantial. Various inquiries and requests from the shipper followed. Yet, the response from Lufthansa Cargo was always that they have no relationship with Silver Seafood and that their customer is Schenker.
Well documented case
“Because we met with zero understanding from Lufthansa Cargo, despite clear evidence of their error, we contacted you from CargoForwarder Global with the request to investigate and make the case public,” CFG was told by sales agent, Nanette Hansen from Silver Seafood. She attached to her email the entire documentation of the proceeding which clearly proves her stance.
Asked for a comment, Lufthansa Cargo Communications delivered this statement: “While customer satisfaction has the highest priority, Lufthansa Cargo cannot publicly comment on a pending claim. The case is under review, and we will directly get back to the affected parties to address their questions and concerns.”
An agreement is not ruled out
Despite this rather general statement, things seem to start moving. This is evidenced by a letter from a leading member of the Feedback Management, FRA F/HG-CC of Lufthansa Cargo to Silver Seafood, dated Friday, 18NOV22. It reads: “After I have read the full story, please allow us to have a further look into your case. We will come back to you by mid next week, either with an interim information or our decision as how to proceed in this case.”
Asked about Schenker's role in the crab issue, a spokesman responded with these words: “We won't comment on this case because we never comment publicly on customer relationships.”
Regardless of the outcome of this case, one thing is already clear: Lufthansa Cargo has lost a loyal customer. “We have recently started using Turkish Airlines Cargo for our shipments to Bologna. So far, that's been going very smoothly,” reports Nanette Hansen.
CargoForwarder Global will continue to keep an eye on the issue. Stay tuned.
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