Cathay Pacific renews emphasis on cargo with leadership changes

A white Cathay Pacific jumbo jet gets ready to takeoff. Cathay Pacific is bolstering its cargo team with new additions.

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.

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