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Cathay Pacific renews emphasis on cargo with leadership changes

A Cathay Pacific 747 freighter gets ready to take off at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Cathay Pacific is putting renewed focus on cargo with some management changes. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Cathay Pacific, the fifth largest cargo airline in the world in terms of shipment volume, is reshuffling its cargo team as it looks to capture more business during a period of anemic passenger travel because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hong Kong airline is running its freighter fleet full tilt and throwing idle passenger aircraft into cargo service as mini-freighters, but the leadership change is designed to improve customer service.

The company has reestablished a dedicated director of cargo position and named Tom Owen to lead the group, Ronald Lam, the chief customer and commercial officer announced in “Cargo Clan,” an in-house newsletter. Owen spent the past five years as director of people and previously held a number of senior positions at Cathay Pacific and parent company Swire Group.

Having a cargo representative on the executive team underscores the importance of cargo, which typically generates 25% to 30% of Cathay’s revenue. It also will help cargo coordinate sales and operations with other parts of the company..

George Edmunds, 39, will be the new general manager of cargo, commercial. He replaces Nelson Chin, who is rotating after three years to be regional general manager for Northeast Asia, based in Tokyo. Edmunds is currently head of revenue management operations for the passenger business. Before joining Cathay Pacific, he held multiple positions in Swire companies involved in ocean shipping.

Owen and Edmunds will begin their new roles in September.

In the newsletter, Edmunds said better technology platforms will enable Cathay Pacific Cargo to upgrade its service levels.

 “Digitization will enable us to understand our customers better and to offer higher-touch service, but also to check our own consistency and quality. It’s giving customers the channels to access us in the way they want, and for us to have more informed conversations with them using data. For example, our sales teams will have a better understanding of the commercial and operational picture in a customer relationship,” he said.

The extra emphasis on cargo is underscored by the recent modification of two widebody passenger aircraft to carry more cargo in the passenger cabin.   

Cathay releases its latest quarterly results on Wednesday.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.


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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]