Horizons For LOT Cargo
it launched first-ever services from Warsaw, Poland to Beijing yesterday
March 30, LOT Polish Airlines Cargo not only achieved an important milestone,
it served notice that here is a 21st century airline to be reckoned with.
LOT is not exactly the business that sits on everyone’s lips when
But maybe it should.
Headed up by Iwona Korpalska, LOT Cargo not only has one if not the only
top female air cargo executive of any European carrier, Iwona is also
among the top half dozen female cargo chieftains in the world.
She brings both brains and beauty to the job with a keen sense of innovation
and pushing the envelope farther.
Poland has time, youth and geography on its side.
Warsaw is bright and interesting with much to discover.
Here Iwona makes the case for LOT Cargo.
FT: How were
the numbers for 2007 compared to 2006.
What are the goals for 2008?
In a tough market our numbers increased slightly
last year as compared to the year earlier. The number of routes has risen
by 6,8%, which is over 4,770 routes more than in the same period previous
We are the market leader in the Polish market
with over 40% of share in the market in export and almost 30% of market
share for import.
Our financial results are more or less on
the same level as in the previous year. It is worth pointing out
we would have had a better outcome if it hadn't been for a weak dollar.
Almost 35% of our income is generated in USD markets and they are accounted
According to our budget there will be less
routes in the year 2008 because of restructuring the fleet, even though
we are planning to increase carried kilograms by 3,5%.
FT: What is
your most important priority right now?
Our major priority at the moment is to maintain
a strong position in the air cargo market in Poland.
There are many international forwarders
in the Polish market with their own aircraft and the competition is growing
each year, but our good quality service and our well trained staff gives
us an edge in the market.
Recently our cargo business was chosen by
forwarding companies to be the best Cargo Airline and the best Cargo Agent
in 2007. Such appreciation is the definitive proof that we are preeminent
in the Polish market.
We also have another priority for 2008.
As we open the new connection to Beijing in China, we are prepared to
establish a strong lasting position in this market. We believe that being
the first and the only airline with direct flights from Warsaw to Beijing,
will attract many Polish and Chinese entrepreneurs as well as forwarders.
Even though the connection has just opened, we already have enquiries
and business for transport from and to Beijing.
FT: If you could
change one thing (or more) about air cargo, what would that be?
If I could change one thing about air cargo
at LOT Polish Airlines, I would consider purchasing freight planes. At
present our cargo is transported only on passenger aircraft, our airline
doesn't have all-cargo aircraft.
It very often happens that either the plane
is too small to carry all the cargo intended for the flight or passengers
have so many bags that the space for cargo is limited.
FT: The LOT
airline has a rich and storied culture for cargo developed over many decades.
Can you describe what initiatives will be put into place to insure cargo
remains a vital force at the airline?
Our main goal is and will be to remain the
best cargo airline in this region.
We have been chosen Cargo Airline of the
Year 2007 as well as Cargo Agent of the Year 2007 because we are constantly
improving our services.
explore new markets, for example we have spent considerable time studying
the Asian market, where demand for airfreight is considerable.
Our position is strong also thanks to many
agreements with other airlines.
LOT Cargo routes don't only cover LOT Polish
Airlines routes, we can deliver goods to almost every place in the world.
We have increased the number of our General
Sales Agents, who represent us not only in markets abroad, but also in
The GSA network we work with helps us to
maintain a very strong market position.
We should not forget about LOT Cargo employees
who are very well educated and competent in their job functions.
Our position in the market is established,
to remain a vital force at the airline. We should enhance what we have
already achieved, realizing that the competition on the market is growing.
FT: Why should
somebody ship LOT Polish?
LOT Polish Airlines offers a very wide route
map with direct connections to many countries in Europe as well as to
We can offer different types of transport,
depending on the distance and the goods which are being shipped. As far
as airfreight is concerned, there is GENERAL CARGO, which applies to all
regular packages. Those consignments are not considered as freight shipped
under special conditions.
Clients who care about faster delivery can
ship their goods via LOT EXPRESS CARGO.
We also offer SPECIAL CARGO, for shipments
requiring either special handling or custody. SPECIAL CARGO includes for
example perishable goods, food, flowers, medicines; valuable goods, like
banknotes, precious stones, metal works. SPECIAL CARGO also includes dangerous
goods (DGR) whose transport must be supervised by skilled staff. We also
transport live animals, dogs, cats, animals for Zoos and many others.
Apart from transport by planes, we have
a wide offering of road transport solutions (Road Feeder Service), specially
to Eastern Europe, but also to major hubs in Germany and The Netherlands.
These are mostly daily scheduled routes and they complement our service
package that we think modestly is second to none.
FT: How are
you handling the current issues of security and fuel costs?
The situation on the global market, and especially
on the fuel market is constantly changing, but still our prices are competitive
and we even manage to be profitable, so I assume, that the security and
fuel costs in our company are very well handled.
FT: How important
are the agents to your business? Why should agents utilize your service
as opposed to others?
Agents are very important to our business,
they represent us in foreign markets as well as in Poland. Our agents
know that the service provided by us is reliable and of the best quality.
Through our agents, clients have easier
and wider access to our services.
FT: How has
IT insinuated itself into your business and what other enhancements are
We at LOT Polish Airlines have a separate
department that handles IT issues concerning passengers' services as well
We utilize two cargo systems: Air Cargo
Manager and Revenue Accounting System Cargo (RASC). Those two systems
are owned and managed by Champ Cargo Systems, which has its hosts in London.
Air Cargo Manager consists of such modules like: reservation, handling,
warehouse, telexes, documentation, and ULD management, report manager.
Revenue Accounting Systems is used for financial clearing with our Agents.
All systems are supervised and coordinated
by LOT Cargo Administration Department.
FT: What areas
of the world are you developing for potential business?
Any new gateways—product lines or new facilities?
As mentioned earlier with new connections
to Beijing in China, the route signals the beginning of LOT's long haul
strategy, which includes expansion to other Far East markets.
China is a very big market to explore and
has lots of potential. We are expecting more than a satisfying outcome
from this region.
LOT Cargo will be the first to offer direct
and the fastest freight transport between Warsaw and Beijing. Our Agents
and Customer are very excited about the route. Flights to Beijing as well
as other long-haul destinations eventually will be operated by the most
modern planes, including the Boeing 787.
LOT Polish Airlines has ordered eight Dreamliners
and the first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2008
although that date may be pushed back a bit from the manufacturer.
In any event, Dreamliners will gradually
replace Boeing 767, which are currently serving North America and elsewhere
as our front line long-haul aircraft.
Our strategy for the years 2008-2012 assumes
new connections to the USA.
The American market makes up almost 50%
of our income throughput and there are still many opportunities to develop
the USA business.