Frankfurt Cargo volume growth favourable
Writing to his shareholders in the latest annual report, Stefan Schulte, chairman of the executive board Fraport AG, the owner and operator of Frankfurt Airport, said: “the cargo tonnages handled in Frankfurt developed favourably, increasing to almost 2.1 million metric tons. Frankfurt Airport was thus the largest cargo airport in Europe last year, ahead of the previous front runner Paris-Charles de Gaulle. We expect further cargo growth in 2014.” With regard to cargo tonnage handled, Frankfurt airport expects rather a moderate growth rate within the context of market growth. Based on the still high proportion of cargo handled on North American and Asian connections and the volatile economic prospects of both regions, the cargo outlook is subject to increased uncertainty. According to the latest annual report, it was the intercontinental cargo throughput, which had significantly higher volume at nearly 88 percent of the total, gaining by 1.3 percent. However, domestic tonnage declined by nearly 10 percent. Talking about bringing in efficiency at the Frankfurt airport, Roland Weil, vice president, sales for Fraport AG said: “We are aiming at a number of goals. One being, connectivity. Connectivity for local shippers as well as shippers from abroad. Secondly speed and ease when it comes to entry into Germany or Europe via Frankfurt.” Weil reiterated the position of Frankfurt airport as the hub airport both for passengers as well as for cargo. “There is a huge belly capacity in passenger flights. There are 50 wide-body flights per day in addition to several freighters. It is a consolidation hub for big forwarders.” Fraport AG has further upgraded the infrastructure for cargo handling at Frankfurt airport. The new ‘Neutral Cargo Transfer Center’ was opened recently at CargoCity South. The new loading terminal has state-of-the-art automated infrastructure for efficient cargo handling. The terminal’s services are aimed at companies that handle airfreight, but do not have a transfer area directly on the apron. According to Weil, the sheer size of CargoCity in Frankfurt offers huge advantage to logistics providers. “We see a lot of connectivity coming from road to flight, flight to flight and flight to road. The intermodal aspect is very strong. 40 to 50 percent of our cargo is connecting,” he said. One of the biggest challenges that Frankfurt airport faces is an effective German court order banning night flight at the airport. The administrative court in Leipzig had upheld a provisional ban, originally imposed earlier by another court, on all take-offs and landings between 11 pm and 5 am following complaints by local residents. Night flights are only permitted in cases where airlines and the airport authorities can prove there is a special need. Lufthansa Cargo, the freight division of Germany's leading airline, has estimated that a night flight ban will cost it €40 million in earnings each year. Responding to the court order Lufthansa chief executive Christoph Franz had said the ruling “threatens to clip the wings of Frankfurt, of Hesse and of Germany as an export and logistics nation.” "It deals a heavy blow to Germany as a place to do business and there is no doubt that of Europe’s biggest hubs will fall back in international competition,” he added. The management of the Frankfurt airport has factored in the night flight ban in its forecast. “There is the risk that the existing night flight ban will have a long term impact on the conditions for the development. It cannot be ruled out that the momentum of the traffic development in particular in the cargo sector, will weaken, with the possibility of reductions in cargo traffic,” said the annual report.