Lufthansa Cargo ranks amongst the world’s leading cargo carriers that transports around 1.7 million tons of freight a year and employs around 4,500 people. So naturally when the opportunity came to us (the 2015 Intake of the MBA class) to tour the facilities of this logistics company everyone jumped at the opportunity. After all it isn’t often that you get a chance to look at the inside of a logistics company.
Lufthansa Cargo is a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and like the parent company has its base of operations at Frankfurt Airport. We set out for the field trip on a cold windy morning which got colder (and windier) at the huge open expanse that is known as “Fraport” (Frankfurt Airport as it is also called). However the cold (and wind) didn’t dampen our enthusiasm to see and learn something new.
Our trip was divided into 2 halves – the first half involved having a look at the daily operations of the firm – how is cargo classified, divided, grouped and packed together so that it perfectly (and efficiently) fits into the cargo hold of a passenger aircraft or into the fleet of pure-play cargo aircrafts (also called freighter aircrafts) or into the back of cargo trucks. Yes Lufthansa cargo having an extensive road feeder services network was something new that we learned!
This first half also gave us the potential of a multi-million euro worth business idea. Currently all cargo (with all its differing dimensions) are grouped together in the heads of certain experts who determine how the cargo should be grouped so that it optimally and efficiently fit into the different types of cargo holds. That’s right there is no computer software or algorithm which determines automatically based on the dimensions of the cargo how they should be grouped together for the optimal fit. This is an area that hasn’t been automated and the same is true for Lufthansa Cargo’s competitors as well. Apparently it isn’t as easy one thinks it to be! A short-cut to reach anyone?
The second half was the more enjoyable half of the visit. We got a chance tossee and to get up, close and personal with one of the modern freighter aircraft – the Boeing 777F – we had the opportunity to see the inside of the cargo aircraft and the loading of the cargo onto the aircraft. We also had an opportunity to visit the inside of the cock-pit and this no doubt got people excited with numerous snaps being clicked in the cock-pit.
All during the trip we were constantly given information about the company – the size, the different types of cargo, the handling facilities, the different locations serviced, the number of people employed and so on – by the 2 well-versed and friendly company employees with an excellent sense of humor. In fact one joke I can recount is how the cargo flight pilots prefer these planes since and I quote here “cargo doesn’t throw-up and complain like regular passengers!”
The field trip ended with a final briefing on the Fraport tarmac where the Lufthansa Cargo planes were parked. All in all despite the windy day it was an excellent day to go out and learn about a different firm in the market. Personally, my previous experience of working at a bank gave me no knowledge about how a logistics company works and this field trip definitely allowed me to do that. Clearly doing an MBA at Frankfurt School is allowing me to broaden my horizons.