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Delta, United make major cargo changes

By Staff Reports on June 11, 2014

(Editor's note: this article was edited to remove references to United's change in cargo handlers.)

The top cargo executives at United Airlines and Delta Air Lines are leaving. Robbie Anderson, president of United Cargo since 2010, is leaving the company while Tony Charaf, senior vice president and chief cargo officer at Delta, is retiring effective Aug 1., after 18 years with the company.

Following Charaf’s retirement, Delta plans a major restructuring of its cargo operations. Cargo Sales will become part of the Global Sales team, and Cargo Operations will be aligned with Airport Customer Service, according to a Delta news release issued Wednesday afternoon.

“With this new structure, Delta Cargo remains a highly valued part of our business, and these changes will provide each group with the resources they need to meet our cargo-related goals,” Ed Bastian, Delta’s president, said.

A United spokeswoman tells Air Cargo World that Anderson decided to leave the company. She declined to say if this is with immediate effect.

An industry observer says Anderson was fired, “although [United] will say he resigned.”

Prior to serving as United Cargo president, Anderson was staff vice president of Continental Airlines’ hub in Cleveland, where his responsibilities included cargo operations.

At Delta, Charaf’s position will be eliminated and Ray Curtis (pictured right), vice president, global cargo sales, will continue to oversee cargo sales. He will report to Steve Sear, senior vice president, Global Sales, while the cargo operations team under the leadership of Scott Barkley, managing director–Global Cargo Operations, will report to Bill Lentsch, senior vice president–Airport Customer Service.

“It’s a great opportunity to align resources and execution around the specific needs of the operation and the same thing for us on the sales side,” Curtis tells Air Cargo World. “We will have access to all the resources, IT, everything. It’s actually very exciting. I have lived in it in my career, both at Northwest and at United, and I’ve seen it produce some successful business outcomes.”

However, our industry source says the moves tell a different story.

“[Anderson’s] firing, the move at Delta to put cargo under passengers just shows how out of touch the boards and CEOs of both airlines are regarding the possibilities that cargo can bring, if you make it a core business. It seems only the Europeans like Lufthansa and Swiss, still have the smarts and the U.S. is just a write-off since the old Northwest Airlines disappeared,” the industry observer says. “The sooner U.S.-based executives in senior positions understand that there is a business case beyond what FedEx and UPS do on the U.S. market, the better the customers will be and the more support they can expect as a consequence.”

--John W. McCurry and Adina Solomon