Continue the good work and grow Lufthansa Cargo
Ashwin Bhat, the new chief executive officer of Lufthansa Cargo in an exclusive interview.
Ashwin Bhat was appointed the chief executive officer of Lufthansa Cargo on 31 March this year in place of Dorothea von Boxberg after Lufthansa Group appointed von Boxberg the CEO of Brussels Airlines to be based in Brussels. Bhat formally took charge on April 14.
In his first interview as the CEO, he said that he is “excited” about the new role and at the same time “humbled” to be nominated as the CEO of an “organisation and leading a brand that is well known within the industry and in certain aspects a leader within the air cargo industry”.
Bhat paid rich tributes to von Boxberg. “I have been lucky enough to be working with her closely for the last two years and enjoyed the partnership in leading Lufthansa Cargo.” “Obviously on a personal note it is sad to see her leave. However, I'm very happy for her to get this opportunity to be the CEO of Brussels Airlines. Obviously, next to her task as CEO of Brussels Airlines, she will be our key representative in Brussels, where the most important decisions pertaining to aviation are taken for European Union,” he added.
In February this year, Bhat was elected to the Board of Directors of Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and he says he will continue on the SWISS Board of Directors.
In the official statement announcing Ashwin Bhat as the new CEO of Lufthansa Cargo, Dr. Michael Niggemann, Member of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Lufthansa Cargo, said, "I am very pleased that Ashwin Bhat, a very skilled manager and internationally experienced logistics and cargo expert, is taking on this responsible task. As a member of the Executive Board, he has played a key role in achieving Lufthansa Cargo's most successful years so far. As CEO, he will further develop the company and expand its strong market positioning."
Born and raised in India Ashwin Bhat began his professional career in 1992 as Cargo and Mail Revenue Accounting Manager at Airline Financial Support Services (India) before moving to Switzerland in 1999 to join Swisscargo AG as its Revenue System Controller.
His elevation to the post of CEO comes just two years after he was called in from Swiss World Cargo and appointed to the Executive Board of Lufthansa Cargo AG and as Chief Commercial Officer.
With revenue of 4.6 billion euros and a transport performance of 7.2 billion freight ton kilometers in 2022, Lufthansa Cargo is one of the world's leading companies in the transport of airfreight.
Asked about the brief to him from the executive board, he said: “Brief is very clear; continue on the good work that we have done. But as the CEO, I will lead the entire company and not just the commercial. We have a number of strategical decisions which we took in the last year in terms of growth of our fleet; investments in our hub in Frankfurt and sustainability goals. So it's all about continuation, and it's about growth of Lufthansa Cargo.”
Bhat confirmed that two more A321 converted freighters will arrive in Frankfurt within the next few weeks. “With just two A321 freighters we couldn't cover all the needs that were there. I have to say I was positively surprised by the reaction that we have got from our customers. With two more narrow-body freighters we are basically talking about 50 weekly flights to 12 destinations. And that's giving our customers extremely fast same day delivery service within Europe.”
On the question of adding more narrow-body freighters to the fleet, Bhat said that it is too early to comment. “So far, we are hitting what we had foreseen in our business case. So with having four together, we have to see how it develops. But the discussion with the customers are positive and based on the numbers and the demands, we might go for more. Yes, we are very open to invest if the growth is needed or the requirements from customers or long term capacity in this area are needed. Yes, we will be open,” Bhat said in the interview.
Watch the full interview in our Cargo Masterminds series presented by cargo.one