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Pioneer Olga Lifts Transaero

     Olga Pleshakova leaves no doubt:
     "We are a faithful Boeing client and we will stay a loyal partner of the U.S. manufacturer in the years to come."
     A clear commitment is hear all around by Olga, the general director of Moscow-based Transaero Airlines.
     The 42-year old energetic, determined and straightforward talking person represents the new generation of industrial leaders in today’s Russia.
     And she’s successful, too, by becoming the first female ever to run an airline here.
     Today, privately owned Transaero ranks second in terms of international routes and frequencies, right after state-run Aeroflot.
     Major shareholders are Mr. and Mrs. Pleshakova (approximately 50%), local banks and investment companies.
     "We serve destinations in five continents and if there were adequate airports and traffic flows we’d also fly to the Antarctic," she states.
     To do so the airline needs adequate aircraft.
     Problem is, an aspect very clearly emphasized by Olga, that the national manufacturers between St. Petersburg and Vladivostok cannot provide the equipment as needed by the carriers here. "There has been a standstill for about fifteen years in this once flourishing industry with highly negative consequences for the local carriers,"
      Olga lays her fingers in a big national wound.
     Nevertheless, there could be seen some improvements lately with manufacturers like Tupolev and Ilyushin offering new aircraft models.
     But their products obviously still keep trailing technical and operational standards set by Boeing or Airbus.
     Like the Tu-214 Transaero had ordered, a step being taken also due to the Russian government’s pressure, admits Olga Pleshakova.
     So far only one Tu-214 out of a major order of ten has been delivered to her airline.
     Transaero is not really happy with the aircraft since delivery commitments have not been met.
     "Since we are rapidly growing we will stick to our partner Boeing for the time to come to enlarge our intercontinental fleet," she declares regardless of her own government’s pressure to `buy Russian´. After all Transaero does not have a real market alternative.
     Further she criticized the special taxes imposed by the Putin administration on all Russian-registered airlines if they purchase foreign-built aircraft.
     They consist of 20 percent of the full price for each jetliner with less than 300 seats aboard.
     "We operate in a weak currency market but are forced to pay extra taxes in hard currency by government decision," she declares.
     "These additional expenditures for our fleet do not make it easier for us to successfully compete with European, Asian or U.S. carriers that have to pay less for their planes."
     Last year Transaero's number of passengers grew to 3.2 million, plus 51.7% year-on-year.
     Air freight tonnage grew by 17% to 18.000 tons.
     Boxes and containers however, admits head of cargo, Alexander Vladimirov, will not be more than a niche product contributing between 3 to 4 percent to the total revenue of USD$727 million, the airline posted in 2006. Current figures will be announced by the end of April.
     Then Olga will declare that the net profit fell a bit below the USD$10 million mark Transaero made in 2006. "We are constantly enlarging our intercontinental network and therefore our fleet," resulting in the lower gains, she explains. Presently the fleet consists of 33 aircraft all of them Boeings, except for the one Tu-214.
     And several B777s, 747-400s and -300s as well as B767-300s are to come.
     Next Transaero plans to introduce a first class product because of increasing customer demand and the offering of a new premium economy class.
     Starting in the fall the airline intends to add New York, Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro as well as some destinations in Southeast Asia to its network.
     They will be operated out of Moscow Domodedovo, the carrier’s intercontinental hub South of the Russian metropolis.
Heiner Siegmund


Cathy At The Heart Of Los Angeles

     If you tell someone that Cathy Hanna is part of the heart and soul of Los Angeles air cargo you won’t get an argument.
     In the next breath say that this great lady who is smart, capable, decent and lovely has decided that after 30 years to end her career on a soft note this past February 29, making the leap to another life.
     That means no more Cathy Hanna as account manager, cargo sales southwest region for American Airlines Cargo at 5908 Avion Drive, 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, California 90045, now.
     Anybody who tells you that it is good news when somebody like Cathy moves on can only be thinking that this lady pioneer of air cargo is in line for a well-deserved chance to spend some time enjoying another life as much as she obviously cherished her years at American.
     Cathy started working for American Airlines in Los Angeles at their reservations office in 1977.
     Cathy recalls that she “was one of the lucky few,” that never had to transfer to another city.
     Cathy Hanna held several positions in passenger service and accounting before finally coming to air cargo.
     “I was fortunate enough to work for one of the best run airlines that encouraged women to move into the more non traditional roles.
     “In 1985, I was promoted to cargo sales account manager.
     “At the time there were only two other women in cargo sales for American Airlines.
     “My territories included serving accounts in different areas of Southern California, Arizona and Utah.”
     When you think about it, juggling the rising cargo fortunes of a great airline with the responsibilities of being both wife and mother would be tough enough.
     But Cathy never took the easy road.
     “I joined the Los Angeles Air Cargo Association in 1986, and served on the Board of Directors for several years making many friends along the way.”
     LAX people recall Cathy as a hard working, community minded executive who typified an ideal balance of responsibility to the air cargo community with total dedication to her airline and always to the customer.
     A tip off of the kind of person Cathy really is can be seen here as she talks about the industry.
     The great people that you meet in this business are often about the same thing.
     Only today it seems we don’t seem to hear these words often enough.
     “Cargo has been a wonderful industry to work in.
     “It’s always changing and growing, and every day has new challenges.
     “I’ve enjoyed being part of a team that helped grow the air cargo business during the past 30 years.
     “ At the beginning, some of the accounts were surprised to see a woman walking into their offices, but as you know, it’s common place now.
     “Once upon a time there were no such things as fuel and security fees.
     “Getting on an airplane flight took 30 minutes from our office to the gate.
     “I’ve gotten to see several of my accounts, who started in very small offices with two dock doors, grow into multimillion dollar businesses.
     “But now my life in Los Angeles will center around my daughter Karen, son-in-law HoJin, and two granddaughters Jessica and Hope.”
     The next words are unexpected, and reproduced here because Cathy makes us proud that she said them.
     “I have enjoyed getting your publication Air Cargo News FlyingTypers over the years.
     “It has kept me up on all the industry news, which is sometimes difficult in our changing times.
     “Thanks for all the wonderful articles!”
     “Thanks also to my colleagues and friends in the air cargo business.
     “It has been a wonderful ride!”
     For Cathy Hanna, the song of a long and distinguished career in air cargo may be ending.
     But for anybody who knows her now and in the future, the melody will linger on.