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Dirk Reich

Dirk Reich, CEO of Cargolux, is to step down from his position at the end of July.

While speculation over the reasons for his departure is rife, one source at the carrier indicated to The Loadstar that the decision was related to health problems, and that Mr Reich wanted to stop commuting from his home in Switzerland.

However, local media reported that Mr Reich had lost the support of the government, while tough trading conditions saw the company record a $20m loss in the first half of the year.

None of this has been confirmed, although Paul Helminger, Cargolux chairman, went on record to say that Mr Reich had done an excellent job.

It is expected that chief financial officer Richard Forson will take back the role of chief executive, which he held on an interim basis for nearly two years before Mr Reich’s arrival in 2014. Local media suggests the board of directors would confirm the appointment next week.


Richard Forson

Mr Reich, although not beloved by the unions for some time, appeared to steady Cargolux after a turbulent period.

When he arrived, the carrier was trying to implement its China strategy and had lost several high-profile executives and board members. But the former Kuehne + Nagel executive managed to build Cargolux’s China network with its shareholder, HNCA, and also finalised the collective work agreement with the unions without a strike.

Customers and rivals have indicated in recent months that the carrier was offering very low pricing to attract volumes for its Zhengzhou-Luxembourg service, much of which was on a road network to boost its dual hubs. One source added that Cargolux, which gets local government subsidies, had forced down prices, and carriers such as Cathay Pacific had been forced to cut rates to prevent customers from trucking shipments to Zhengzhou.

The carrier is set to launch Cargolux China next year, according to the agreement with shareholder HNCA – a move which some observers claim has some risk in current market conditions.

Mr Forson becomes CEO on August 1, while Maxim Strauss, vice-president corporate development, is nominated executive vice-president and CFO, as Mr Forson’s replacement. Mr Strauss has been with the company since January 2006.

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