Friday, August 2, 2013

Freight Only Airline Offers Extra Service as Shares Still Up for Grabs

Cargo Carrier Seems to have settled Labour problems - Now to find a serious bidder
Shipping News Feature

LUXEMBOURG – AUSTRIA – Whilst speculation continues over who will be the next major shareholder in freight only airline Cargolux, the company has announced the introduction of a weekly 747 freighter service to Vienna, the inaugural flight commencing tomorrow (August 3). The new stopover in Austria’s capital is an extension of the existing Saturday flight from Hanoi and Hong Kong. With Cargolux flight CV6716, Vienna International Airport will see the first ever landing of one of the new giant Boeing 747-8 freighters by Europe’s largest cargo only carrier.

The Luxembourg based airline says it expects electronics to be the commodity to feature most prominently on the new service with both the Asian cities major production centres for the technology. By adding the air freight service Cargolux will also be able to curb its trucking activities from Austria to Luxembourg with all the attached environmental benefits.

Vienna airport offers round-the-clock operations without curfew and 24-hour cargo handling facilities and is also an important gateway to Eastern European destinations, in Q1 of 2013 the hub showed an upswing of around 5% with over sixty thousand tonnes of cargo handled.

The question which remains however is who will take up the 35% of stock which Qatar Airways bailed out of last November and which was taken up by the Luxembourg authorities for an interim period? At the time we reported how labour unions claimed the Middle Eastern airline withdrew after plans to take over Cargolux were unveiled and the most strenuous objections were raised.

In December we told how both Volga-Dnepr (through its AirBridgeCargo subsidiary) and the Chinese HNA Group, possibly via Hainan Airlines, a subsidiary of the Grand China Airlines Holding Company (an enterprise jointly held with George Soros and the Hainan provincial government), were both considering offers for the available shares and now other names are being touted, but with no hard evidence. What is sure is that the recent labour troubles at Cargolux will not have helped in the search for a buyer. The unions and management now seemed to have made headway in resolving the industrial troubles and therefore we can expect that the bidding for a share of the cargo only carrier will hot up.