A 360-degree view
As for the future of the Lufthansa Cargo and the industry in general, Gerber is reluctant to make any bold predictions. “All the very experienced, intelligent pundits writing about our industry failed to predict the crisis of 2016; they also failed to predict the rise in 2017,” he said. “But for the moment, I don’t see that there won’t be more cargo growth. I expect growth to be not as big as last year. If we look at the demand side, it seems to be pretty stable because most economies are still growing, and oceanfreight is still doing some restructuring.”
Gerber also said that the labor issues that plagued Lufthansa for so long in 2015 and 2016 are likely over for the next few years, at least. The carrier has come to a labor agreement with its cabin crews, but the pilots agreement is still one step away from resolution. “We have an agreement now, already in place, but this agreement needs to be accepted by the members of the union,” Gerber said. At press time, a final vote from the pilot union members was due to take place in December 2017.
Looking back on the 25 years he has spent at Lufthansa, Peter Gerber said he feels most grateful for the width and breadth of experience he was able to glean from his many roles at the airline.
“I really did a variety of roles within the Lufthansa Group, on the management side,” he said. “I did a lot of financial stuff. I helped with the restructuring program, I was head of the group strategy – all of these different jobs gave me different views into the business.”
As he moves LH Cargo forward with what he called the “four pillars” of the carrier’s plan for the future – the fleet renewal, the construction of the LCC, the digitalization of processes and the expansion of partnerships – Gerber said he can now use the various skills he learned from all the other departments he led at Lufthansa during his career. That way he can visualize the whole chessboard, identify all the pieces and plan his next several moves.
“By seeing the 360-degree view, you can become as complete as a human being can be,” he added. “Lufthansa made me what I am now.”