Cargolux says in its 45th anniversary year and against a background of low yields, continued overcapacity and declining volumes, it performed “extremely well” achieving record levels of tonnage and block hours and ended the year on a net profit after tax of $49 million.
Cargolux grew its freight tonne kilometers by 8.7 per cent, which it says ranks it number seven among the world’s cargo operators, according to International Air Transport Association data, and makes it the largest all-cargo airline in Europe.
In 2015, Cargolux carried 889,652 tonnes of freight on its network, 7.4 per cent more than in 2014. With 26 Boeing 747 Freighters at year-end, a mix of 747-400 and 747-8 freighters and the largest fleet in its history, Cargolux achieved a record 114,792 block hours, an increase of 8.8 per cent over the all-time high in 2014.
The average load factor remained fairly stable at 65.9 per cent, even with a larger fleet and increased capacity. The group’s average market share in 2015 grew to 3.8 per cent.
The carrier explains it outperformed not only the market, but also its direct competitors in Europe who, in some cases, retired freighters or reduced their air cargo activities.
Cargolux president and chief executive officer, Dirk Reich says: “It is a sign of our company’s strength that, despite the energy we needed to achieve a CWA compromise, we managed to achieve a significant boost in our performance and a healthy profit, contrary to most of our European competitors.
“While this excellent result benefitted from a reduction in fuel costs, it is in large part due to the hard work of our people, as well as our strategy and the corresponding measures that we began to introduce in 2014 in order to reduce our costs.”
Cargolux’s complementary Chinese hub, Zhengzhou, was a major focus during 2015. Flights increased to 13 per week by year-end and the company introduced transpacific services between Zhengzhou and Chicago.
By the end of 2015, Cargolux had flown over 65,000 tonnes of freight to and from Zhengzhou.
In early 2016, Cargolux approved an investment of $77 million for ‘Cargolux China’, the new joint venture Chinese cargo airline based in Zhengzhou.
‘Cargolux China’ is expected to start operations in 2017, focusing on transpacific and intra-Asian routes. Its fleet is planned to grow to five 747 freighters within the first three years of operation.
Reich adds: “Spreading our wings for a global reach underlines our vision of being the Global Cargo Carrier of Choice and supports our strategy to grow our activities from a single hub in Luxembourg to multiple hubs and gateways in Zhengzhou, Milan, Hong Kong and Chicago.
“We will continue to expand our network and, with Cargolux China getting primed for take-off, we go wherever our customers want us to go, be it with Cargolux Airlines, Cargolux Italia or, in the future, Cargolux China.”