Last summer, Luxembourgian all-cargo carrier Cargolux made a significant internal move, bringing Domenico “Mimmo” Ceci from senior vice president of commercial planning over to executive vice president of sales and marketing, where he will be in charge of the further digitalization and automation of processes at Cargolux.
With more than 30 years of experience at Cargolux, Ceci has a wealth of experience in prioritizing and investing in technology that will digitalize sales processes and provide quotes and e-bookings for customers. Currently, his focus in the first yeas of running sales and marketing, is to “streamline and optimize how we interact internally, and also with our customers.” Last month, Air Cargo World caught up with Mimmo Ceci to find out how he has been progressing with the initial projects, and how Cargolux is adapting to market changes as the carrier nears its 50th anniversary of providing global maindeck air cargo services.
Q: What was the first change or new initiative you brought to Cargolux?
Domenico Ceci: Cargolux has always been a very lean organization and a customer-oriented company, which does not tell or instruct customers what is good for them but, rather, listens to them and tries to find solutions for their needs. What we have increased focus on is to have further digitalization and automation.
Q: What are some of the digitalization projects you are currently working on?
DC: We at CV have been undergoing a complete business process review to prepare ourselves for the future. This includes initiatives on our revenue management side, the enhancement of our CRM tools, a review of our processes to increase automation, enhancing the penetration of electronic air waybills [for the ‘Single Process’ initiative] and the migration to a new cargo management system with CHAMP Cargosystems.
Q: What changes are planned when the three 747-400ERFs from ASL join CV’s fleet later this year?
DC: We have over the years built up a certain level of flexibility into our fleet, which enables us to reduce or deploy capacity as the market dictates. The aircraft joining our fleet adds to this flexibility and also provides for maintenance downtime as our 747-8F fleet is now also entering into more-intensive maintenance checks.
Q: How have the U.S. trade wars with China affected operations?
DC: Overall, I would say that the impact was positive in 2018. As regards 2019, levels of demand both ways have been softening. Whether this is due to the ‘Trump’ impact or just a general slowdown in the Chinese economy overall – which in itself may be partly driven by U.S. tariffs on certain imports – is difficult to say. Possibly oceanfreight, rather than airfreight, has been more impacted by the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.
Q: Do you see CV becoming more involved in e-commerce?
DC: We are a long-haul, widebody, maindeck freighter operator, so the short-haul air transport of e-commerce is not within our core business. However, CV is already heavily involved in e-commerce trade as we transport products in bulk to the various fulfillment centers that have been set up around the world by e-commerce players in order to satisfy demand in local or regional markets. Regarding Cainiao and Amazon, we follow with interest their foray into the logistics of e-commerce, and it forms part of our strategy to continuously review and evaluate what value we can add and what value we can, in turn, get out of participating. With regards to cross-border e-commerce, we are particularly conscious as an airline that we need to know what we are carrying on board our aircraft.
Q: What is your outlook for the air cargo market for the rest of 2019?
DC: After 2.5 years with high demand, 2019 is again a “normal” year with a slow start. These ups and downs are normal in our industry, and Cargolux will continue to adapt based on market requirements. Demand has slowed down versus 2018, especially in and out of China. We already launched a new twice weekly service from Zhengzhou to Budapest, and have increased our existing frequencies from Hong Kong to Budapest. We do plan to add additional destinations to our network during the next months. We expect the summer to be challenging but remain confident for Q4.