A day after word broke that Cargolux president and CEO Dirk Reich intended to step down as CEO, the Luxembourg-based all-cargo carrier confirmed the story and said that current executive vice president and CFO Richard Forson will step in to take on the roles of president and CEO.
Reich, who joined Cargolux in May 2014, will leave Cargolux “for personal reasons” at the end of July, the company said. Reich has asked the board of directors for an early termination of his contract, which the company said should be approved soon.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Dirk for his significant contribution to the success and development of Cargolux, especially in China, but also elsewhere,” said Paul Helminger, chairman of Cargolux’s board of directors, crediting Reich’s passion and dedication for setting the carrier “on a path of growth” to become a global player in airfreight. “I am personally sad to see Dirk leaving us, but I respect his decision that is based on personal reasons beyond the air cargo business and the Cargolux family,” he added.
Reich joined Cargolux at a time of great turmoil in the executive suites, which had struggled with labor unrest and experienced several personnel changes following the ousting of former CEO, Ulrich Ogiermann, in 2010 during the surcharge price-fixing scandal that rocked the airfreight industry. After Reich came aboard, the waters calmed somewhat for Cargolux as the carrier forged ahead with a controversial “second hub” plan in Zhengzhou, China, that eventually began paying dividends. The carrier managed to make a small profit of US$3 million in fiscal year 2014, which grew to $49 million the following year.
More recently, the fortunes of Cargolux have regressed again, as the carrier reported a $20 million loss in the first six months of 2016, due to weak cargo demand and a struggling economy in China. While a labor deal was reached with the airline’s pilots after long and contentious negotiations last December, there are still unresolved issues with Luxembourg’s labor unions regarding Cargolux’s investment in Cargolux Italia.
Forson, who has been with Cargolux since February 2012, has had experience as chief executive before, taking on in the role of interim CEO just before the hiring of Reich. As Forson moves into the CEO spot on Aug. 1, his executive vice president and CFO positons will be filled by Maxim Strauss, currently vice president of corporate development for Carglolux. Strauss has been with the carrier since January 2006.