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A leaner Delta for future growth

By control on October 19, 2012

After two short months on the job, an "energized" Tony Charaf, the new chief cargo officer at Delta Air Lines, is turning his focus to the operations side of the business. In an interview with Air Cargo World, he said Delta is striving to improve operational deliveries and institute Six Sigma and other lean principles — ways of doing business he picked up during his time on Delta's technical operations team.

"We want to have a process in place that is sustainable, that is predicable, that will deliver consistent results to our customers. This is really the key — the consistency of the product," he told Air Cargo World.

He said he believes streamlining Delta's processes will help grow the business. He noted that the carrier is currently not operating at 100-percent load factor, a fact that could be improved with better organization. In addition, Charaf is looking at more ways to connect forwarders and shippers to the airline through IT solutions, giving the supply chain more visibility and allowing for better analysis.

For these improvements in efficiency to come during dark economic and political times is no easy task. Charaf notes that the eurozone crisis might go deeper than most people think — "Twenty five-percent unemployment in some countries? That is outrageous." — and the Middle East is in an uneasy political time. China, he added, is sluggish due to the slow U.S. economy, and Japan has an export issue.

"The market dynamics right now are very difficult," he told Air Cargo World. "The economies around the world are really very challenging."

Even amid the storms, Charaf is confident that staying the course will lead to growth for Delta's cargo business. He pointed to the strength of his new team as one way the carrier will rise above the dark times.

"I’m energized, I’m happy, I’m proud — all of that," he said. "I inherited a wonderful organization, wonderful people."

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