German cargo hub eyeing Asian markets

Considered as Germany’s largest hub for cargo operations, Leipzig-Halle Airport has been witnessing a growth in terms of volumes and expansions and now is bullish on Asia market too, including India. Jasleen Kaur

Germany is home to over thirty commercial passenger and cargo airports as well as a large number of smaller airfields and air strips that service business and general aviation. Where Frankfurt and Munich serves tens of millions of passengers a year to smaller airports in medium size cities that may fly anywhere from 220 thousand passengers (Zweibrücken Airport) to over 5.2 million passengers (Hannover Langenhagen Airport), Leipzig-Halle Airport is Germany’s largest hub for express cargo, which DHL’s European hub handles here and which has significantly contributed to the airport’s on-going growth for almost nine years now, mentioned Mario Patyk, Head of Business Development, cargo at Mitteldeutsche Airport Holding which manages Leipzig-Halle Airport.

“We are also increasingly successful in niche markets such as freight charter traffic and the handling of heavy-duty and oversized shipments and large animals,” he added. Leipzig-Halle Airport provides unrestricted 24/7 operation of cargo flights. The airport has parallel runway system, ideal accessibility by road, rail and air and potential building areas. Bundled logistics facilities, initiatives of regional logistics players and an international flight network are among major customer benefits.

Ranking top, the airport has continuous growth. “Leipzig-Halle Airport, Germany’s second-largest air cargo hub, saw record cargo volumes in December 2015 by handling 88,336 tonnes, a 10.1 percent increase over like month 2014. This is the fourth throughput record during 2015 for the airport, mainly due to express volumes from DHL and the DHL’s AeroLogic joint venture with Lufthansa Cargo,” said Patyk.

Freight volumes at the hub in eastern Germany grew by 8.6 percent to 812,060 tonnes for the year 2015. Leipzig-Halle Airport is the fifth largest airfreight hub in Europe, handling more than 910,700 tonnes in 2014. Two Antonov 124-100 aircraft has been permanently stationed at Leipzig-Halle since March 2006 as part of the SALIS Project (Strategic Airlift Interim Solution).

Flights currently operate to around 60 destinations in more than 30 countries. DHL relocated its European hub, the integrator’s largest worldwide, to Leipzig-Halle in 2008. Patyk said, “The main airlines contributing to our enormous growth are linked to DHL and include European Air Transport Leipzig (EAT) and long-haul operator AeroLogic (the DHL/Lufthansa Cargo joint venture), which is operating with eight Boeing 777 freighters from its home base here,” adding, “Southern Air, Kalitta and Polar Air Cargo operate intercontinental cargo flights for DHL on a regular basis as well.”

The establishment of the European DHL Hub at Leipzig-Halle has attracted much of this business. Takeoffs and landings rose by three per cent in 2015 to 64,097. The current freighter schedule includes four destinations in North America, three in the Middle East and 11 in India and Asia. In terms of general cargo, Leipzig-Halle credits the Volga-Dnepr Group, and in particular its scheduled arm AirBridgeCargo, as partly responsible for its increasing tonnage. ABC operates a weekly Leipzig service to and from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.

The cargo services at the airport include airfreight, warehouse and documentation, road-feeder services, truck and charter handling, animal and perishable handling, pharma, operators / ULD control, custom clearance, to name a few. Patyk said, “Leipzig-Halle Airport lies at the heart of Europe, where the Paris-Warsaw and Rome-Helsinki corridors cross. The location within the trans-European motorway network and short trucking times to important European business areas ensures optimum conditions to serve the ever-growing flows of traffic. We have a daily trucking services to/from 100 German and European destinations.”

For the Asian market including India, Patyk said, “We are expecting a significant increase in the Asia market this year too. The assumption is based on the growth in export volumes from Germany to China and a spurt at the end of the year in express operations, powered by business at Christmas time in 2015. We are quite hopeful for expansions in Asia, including India.”