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Lufthansa promotes commercial chief to lead cargo division

Lufthansa Cargo operates a fleet of 11 Boeing 777 freighters, like this one. (Photo: Lufthansa Cargo)

Deutsche Lufthansa AG moved quickly to fill the hole at the top of its cargo subsidiary, promoting Lufthansa Cargo Chief Commercial Officer Ashwin Bhat to CEO a week after reassigning Dorothea von Boxberg to lead Brussels Airlines.

Bhat will move into the new role on April 15 and continue to be responsible for product and sales, Lufthansa (DXE: LHA) announced Friday.

The corporate board said Bhat played a key role in guiding Lufthansa Cargo to record profits during the COVID crisis. Last year, Lufthansa Cargo achieved record operating profit of $1.7 billion under difficult market conditions.

Lufthansa said it will soon appoint a third executive, presumably a chief commercial officer, to help run Cargo.

Lufthansa Cargo CEO-in waiting, Ashwin Bhat. (Photo: Lufthansa)

Bhat, 53, studied chemistry at the University of Mumbai, India. He began his professional career as an airline financial adviser in India before joining the former Swisscargo in 1999, holding various positions in revenue, transport and regional management. In 2015, he moved up to head the cargo business segment at Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines and was named head of marketing and sales at Lufthansa Cargo in 2021. 

Lufthansa Cargo operates 16 Boeing 777 freighters on long-haul routes and two Airbus A321 converted freighters for same-day e-commerce customers within Europe. Eleven aircraft are operated by Lufthansa Cargo crews under the Lufthansa Cargo brand. Five aircraft are chartered from AeroLogic, a joint venture with DHL, and operated by AeroLogic on behalf of Lufthansa Cargo. Lufthansa Cargo also manages the belly cargo for Lufthansa and all sister airlines besides Swiss International.

Digital sales expansion

On Thursday, Lufthansa Cargo announced the expansion of its partnership by nearly tripling the number of countries in which cargo can be booked via the digital freight marketplace. Freight forwarders in 75 countries can now use to compare rates and capacity and instantly reserve positions for general cargo, pharmaceutical and perishable shipments, including expedited service, on Lufthansa passenger and freighter aircraft. More than 90% of Lufthansa Cargo customers now have live access to its capacity on the platform.

Lufthansa Cargo is a minority investor in but does not hold a board position in the booking portal to assure the market of neutrality.

The airline worked with last year to implement the default auto assignment of new airway bill numbers for booking confirmations and updates, simplifying the process for forwarders.

Lufthansa Cargo is agnostic about where customers go to buy transportation service. The company  also is rolling out CargoAi, another third-party reservation system, to customers in the European Union. Customers in Europe and North America also have access to Lufthansa Cargo through WebCargo by Freightos. And many freight forwarders hook directly into Lufthansa Cargo’s own dynamic booking engine.

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Twitter: @ericreports / LinkedIn: Eric Kulisch / [email protected]


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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 and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He won Environmental Journalist of the Year from the Seahorse Freight Association in 2014 and was the group's 2013 Supply Chain Journalist of the Year. In December 2022, he was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. 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]