60 Seconds with Chris Nielen

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Cargolux Airlines International vice president of sales, Chris Nielen

Cargolux Airlines International has been one of the pioneers in air cargo of animal transportation through its live animals product CV Alive.

The carrier’s vice president of sales, Chris Nielen, who joined in October last year, talked to Air Cargo Week about what Cargolux is doing at its Luxembourg Airport hub and any trends in the marketplace.

Justin Burns, ACW: How important is the animal transportation sector to Cargolux?

Nielen: Live animal transport is one of Cargolux’s core specialties. We have our specialised product CV Alive based on the competence our highly qualified specialists who discuss the individual requirements of each animal shipment with the customer to put together tailor-made solutions to perfectly fit the shippers’ needs.

Justin Burns, ACW: What percentage of your tonnage is it?

Nielen: We cannot disclose figures, but CV Alive is an important part of our product portfolio and our business overall, as well as a key part of our strategy to grow our premium products.

Justin Burns, ACW: What growth did you see in 2016?

Nielen: Live animal transportation is a stable segment with a slight upward trend. However, at Cargolux, we have seen steady growth in our animal shipments during the last two years. It was primarily driven by additional horse shipments from Europe to North America, and North America to the Middle East and Asia.

Justin Burns, ACW: What opportunities exist?

Nielen: We see many opportunities. Animal transport via air transport has many advantages over train, truck or ship transport, not least better comfort, less stress and shorter travel times. We still see the potential to grow this segments over long ranges, continent to continent.

Justin Burns, ACW: What facilities do you have in LUX?

Nielen: We operate from an EU-certified veterinary station with ample holding spaces for all kinds of animals that gives the possibility for rest between, before or after flights, as well as overnight accommodation in noise-protected areas with temperature and light controls. We have access to 41 stables with an additional nine mobile stables if required.

As an all-cargo carrier, we enjoy the advantage of parking our aircraft close to the cargo facilities in our network, thus reducing considerably travel from animal station to aircraft or vice-versa.

Justin Burns, ACW: What kinds of animals are handled?

Nielen: Cargolux was once described as ‘Noah’s ark of the skies’, and that seems a very fitting description. We have flown valuable race horses, alpacas, dogs, breeding bulls, white rhinos, orcas, almost too many to mention. To safeguard the welfare of these travelers, we afford them the safety, comfort and security they deserve. They are handled with extra special care and in full compliance with the IATA Live Animal Regulations, as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. We do not carry endangered species or laboratory animals.

Justin Burns, ACW: How big is the horse shipment market?

Nielen: Horse transports are a major part of our animal shipments and an important segment of our CV Alive product. We have been able to grow our market share. We carry several thousand horses each year. These are breeding as well as race horses that travel in our next-generation horse stalls designed in cooperation with Van Riemsdijk Aviation (manufacturer), and Cargolux in-house experts in carriage of live animals. We invested in these horse stalls in 2012. The enhancements are important and further guarantee the welfare of the horses; they provide safer unloading and improved accessibility for grooms to check the animals during and after the flight. The horse boxes offer ample space for three horses and a groom area.

Justin Burns, ACW: Are yields good from moving horses?

Nielen: We are in very strong position to compete in the market and see positive yields compared to the rest of the markets. Our focus on premium products, such as horse transportation, helps us offset low yields in other market segments.

Justin Burns, ACW: Do you have plans to grow your horse transportation facilities and services?

Nielen: We will soon increase our new generation horse stall fleet by an additional 15 units to improve our service quality. Our customers appreciate it  – it’s visible to groom and horse.

Justin Burns, ACW: Do you expect the horse transportation market to expand?

Nielen: We expect to expect to grow our horse shipments in the future. We have the capacity, tools and experts to boost our business.The demand is pretty diverse – race horses, breeding horses, and polo horses. The value of some can be astronomical.