Champ cargosystems: Really in the clouds

CHAMP Cargosystems, the preferred business solutions provider for the air […]

April 11, 2013

CHAMP Cargosystems, the preferred business solutions provider for the air cargo industry, has today one of the most comprehensive range of integrated IT solutions and services. The company’s portfolio spans core cargo management systems, messaging services, and eCargo solutions.

The idea of launching CHAMP emerged at the dawn of the new millennium, when Cargolux, the air cargo company, saw the need for airlines to have more efficient applications dedicated to air logistics. Officially born in Luxembourg in January 2004, and incorporated under full Cargolux ownership, the seductive CHAMP project had a strong potential that was soon recognized and later enhanced by SITA, the Geneva-based leading provider of data and services to airlines through their acquisition of the 51% of ownership in CHAMP. Since then, CHAMP Cargosystems has successfully established a strong leadership in air cargo system services. Softair and, more recently, Traxon Europe, were acquired by CHAMP to further strengthen the company’s position as a technological leader.

More than ever, CHAMP Cargosystems is investing in the development of IT services made available via software as a service (SaaS). For customers, accessing CHAMP’s SaaS means to free up investments tied to costly in-house IT infrastructures, and to better focus on core business activities. 2012 was a successful year for CHAMP Cargosystems despite a challenging economic environment.

An interview with Mr. John Johnston, CEO of CHAMPS Cargosystems

John, could you explain what CHAMP is? What does CHAMP do exactly?

The core concept of CHAMP Cargosystems is to provide IT solutions to the entire air logistics industry. When we launched CHAMP in 2004, there was no company solely dedicated to air logistics IT; in addition, the only IT solutions that existed before were expensive, inflexible mainframe legacy architectures.

The adventure started when Cargolux set to develop an in-house software for cargo and capacity management. It was a very flexible solution, fit for all of Cargolux’s needs and requirements, which almost immediately captured the interest of the carriers and handlers doing business with Cargolux. To optimize the ‘go to market’ strategy, a brand new company was created: CHAMP Cargosystems. Thanks to the company’s unique position in air logistics and high-quality services, we were immediately successful: in our first year, no less than twelve companies became regular users of CHAMP’s air logistics solutions.

A solid partnership was signed with SITA to further boost the company’s growth and to enlarge our addressable market. The essential counterpart of the acquisition of 51% of ownership of CHAMP by SITA, was a massive technological transfer between the two companies, and a merger of the applications that had so far been designed separately by CHAMP and SITA. SITA had developed its IT solutions on a legacy mainframe environment, and it was a complex job to move all SITA’s cargo customers onto CHAMP’s Java-based platform.

In 2008 we acquired a Swiss company called Softair, thus speeding up the launch of a new CHAMP solution that included the ultimate comprehensive software suite and full-scale interconnected services to the air cargo logistics industry. In 2011, we acquired TRAXON, the world’s largest provider of message-based distribution services for the air cargo industry. This positioned CHAMP uniquely not only providing the core cargo systems, but also the connectivity of all the stakeholders in the air cargo supply chain. CHAMP now has the content and distribution power to provide the data and connectivity for any stakeholder in any location around the world.

Do you have a specific Cloud strategy?

CHAMP has adopted a hybrid Cloud approach. Meaning a mix of in-house data centers and global cloud providers to distribute the company’s services. In addition, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of an entirely paper-free air cargo logistics industry.

To have all cargo operations running paper-free, we needed to adopt a Cloud approach. This is a major step to be really efficient in the multipurpose treatment and handling of cargo information, and it is also a major step for global security. Cloud-based solutions operate quick, easy, portable data, which makes it possible for the industry to anticipate issues of data handling, checks and clearances. As for customs and public agencies, a paper-free handling ensures a reliable control system that enhances security, and also helps to detect possible threats early. It can also lead to smarter and smoother collection processes and in case of embargoes or illegal shipment, a cargo can be identified and traced well ahead of its arrival.

How do you see the future? What are the perspectives for CHAMP?

We are certainly hoping for a bright future, even though the world economy is facing what is one of the worst economic crises in years. CHAMP has a formidable strength: it is a debt-free company with 50 million Euros per year turnover, plus it does not rely on massive license and patents sales contrary to most of the major IT companies. We don’t know about quarterly panics. CHAMP’s business is built upon trustworthy, durable relationships with our customers, and long-term recurring revenues. We started from zero and today, we have grown to be the world’s largest IT provider as a service to the air transport industry; 25% of all air cargo in the world is processed by a CHAMP solution in Luxembourg.

CHAMP’s cargo solutions represent 33% of market share. 80% of the company’s revenue consists of long term recurring revenue contracts. From here on, our target is to reach 100 million Euros turnover in the coming years. Indeed, although transaction volumes have decreased by about 30% from the pre-economic crises levels of 2007, our market share has steadily increased over the same period, which is a satisfying compensation. When the economy does return to sustained growth we anticipate accelerated overall growth for CHAMP.


“25% of all air cargo in the world is processed by a CHAMP solution”



The cornerstone of all our projects is to support the interconnection between all stakeholders of the air-cargo industry. Our core business has always been traditionally the airlines, but the ground handling, customs and airports have been the fastest growth areas for the company in recent years. Beyond that, we are building airport communities, linking all stakeholders such as airlines, handlers, freight forwarders, customs authorities and airports authorities. CHAMP is also determined to enter the freight-forwarder market, thus bringing together the entire cargo and transport industry and servicing them with tomorrow’s IT solutions.

But, why Luxembourg in the first place?

Luxembourg is essential to CHAMP, it was born here as a subsidiary of Cargolux, and it is our headquarters. Being a Luxembourgish company has several advantages. From a geographical perspective, we have a unique central position in Europe, we are only a few hours away from all major economic hubs (London, Frankfurt, Brussels, Paris, Milan) and we are well connected to all major cities worldwide. From a geopolitical point of view, we benefit from Luxembourg’s reputation of stability, efficiency, pragmatism, and professionalism. Yet, the greatest of all assets of being a Luxembourgish company is the high standard of living, which allows us to attract highly qualified staff from all over the world. Approximately 27 nationalities are represented among the 141 people working for CHAMP in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg is a human-sized capital where people know each other, which makes for tremendous networking opportunities in the local Business Chambers. The Luxembourgish public institutions are quite supportive of our projects and they have helped us through the years to achieve worldwide visibility, and we also benefit from worthy reliable assistance, both in Luxembourg and abroad. Last but not least, the key asset for us as an IT company is that Luxembourg has excellent high-speed Internet and network infrastructures.

CHAMP has offices in London, Frankfurt, Atlanta, Zurich and also since 2010 in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, yet we want to keep our headquarters in Luxembourg. On the other hand, we also need to gain flexibility in terms of resources. We could have outsourced some of our activities to Indian offshore companies for instance, a widespread business strategy that is often costly and time-consuming as far as project management is concerned. At CHAMP, we have made a winning choice: we stand firmly on Luxembourgish ground. This is where we benefit from our deep domain knowledge and experience, while blending this with our Manila company where we can attract brilliant IT people from all over Asia, for coding and programming our applications and our platforms. This allows us to marry the very best of European design and know-how with the large scale low cost development required to compete on the global stage, but all achieved by one company, CHAMP Cargosystems.

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