Frankfurt Flexes its Cargo Muscles

The airport reported an air freight throughput of 2.09 million tons in 2013, thus recapturing the pole position over Paris CDG, Europe’s former number one spot in air freight volumes. And Rhine-Main’s positive cargo saga seems to continue due to Germany’s high-flying foreign trade, flanked by an ambitious new master plan.

Fraport Executive Board Member Handling Anke Giesen is keen on pushing FRA’s cargo biz forward  /  source: hs
Fraport Executive Board Member Handling Anke Giesen is keen on pushing FRA’s cargo biz forward / source: hs

The times of meager air freight results at Rhine-Main airport forcing many market players to fasten their belts even more tightly seem to be history – at least for the foreseeable future. The upswing in tonnage started last year with a moderate volume increase of 1.4 percentage points, followed by a remarkable 4.0 percent leap in Q1 of this year.

Did Frankfurt win a beauty contest as result of new layers of makeup giving the location a sparkling shine for charming the cargo industry? Or has operator Fraport lowered the landing fees together with other price reductions to gain new biz? No, nothing of all this has been seen.

Frankfurt’s main business pillars
But what then are the reasons for the ongoing upturn in cargo?
A fair and credible answer was delivered by Fraport’s Executive Board Member Anke Giesen at a recent press meeting. She knows best who deserves the credit for the recovery of the biz resulting in growing cargo volumes at her site: “The 30 enterprises listed on the German stock index DAX generate 70 percent of their total revenues abroad,” Giesen indicated the true causes. She went on to say: “strong external trade links need a very good transport network, including aviation services.”
Data stemming from the strong running chemical industry that accounts for 86,000 jobs in and around Frankfurt confirm her words. Other high flying sectors are IT, automotive and financial services. Each of these sectors has contributed its share to making Frankfurt a hotspot for global business.


New master plan impresses
Now, Fraport’s management has decided to jump on the bandwagon for supporting this positive trend. A “Frankfurt 2020” named program presented by Anke highlights some impressive projects:

  • Enlargement of the CargoCity South by adding 27 hectares to the site. This enables building additional 100,000 sqm of warehouse and office space.
  • Developing the 110 hectares encompassing so called Moenchhof Premises, located in direct vicinity of the airport. The place is slated to be converted into a huge logistics and business park. Once accomplished, it will be the largest coherent industrial zone throughout the entire region.
  • Building “Gateway Gardens” – a 35 hectares encompassing new district with hotels, office buildings, convention space and other service offerings.

Lufthansa Cargo’s projected new distribution center “LCC Neo” rounds up the list of trail blazing items standing on the agenda for realization.
To find consensual solutions and avoid the risk of projects being torpedoed by some industrial players due to controversial interests an “Air Cargo Community Frankfurt e.V.” called association will be established (see 14 April issue of CargoForwarder Global). Led by Fraport and LH Cargo the future club aims to foster the mutual interests of all enterprises involved in Rhine-Main’s cargo biz for optimizing processes and drive projects forward. 


Modern styled light motifs are welcoming Fraport visitors  /  source: hs
Modern styled light motifs are welcoming Fraport visitors / source: hs

Burgeoning economy is top cargo driver
At the press meeting manager Giesen illustrated how vital air transports are for the entire economy by mentioning just two figures: Only one percent of all goods transported worldwide are flown on board of aircraft, but they represent 35 percent of the total trade volume.
That’s why well working air links are indispensable for a large number of enterprises that are engaged in cross-border trade, she noted. 

Having said this she drew the attention to some other Frankfurt supporting factors like the airport’s central geographical location right in the middle of Europe. This ensures convenient multi-modal accessibility and is a particular advantage when it comes to uplifting time critical items.
Last but not least a third and decisive aspect to be worth mentioning besides the geographical location and the burgeoning economy pushing Fraport’s cargo figures up is the presence of many forwarders that decided to settle there. You name it, you’ll find them, be it DB Schenker, Kuehne + Nagel, Yusen, DHL-GF, Panalpina, Kintetsu or many others.

Number of freighter ops will gradually decrease
Currently, 25 cargo airlines are serving the airport, offering the market 210 operations each consecutive week. While about 60 percent of the entire throughput is still transported on board of freighters, Giesen and her team expect this to level out at 50/50% as result of the fast growing number of cargo-friendly passenger aircraft, like the Triple Seven airliner.

In cargo, operator Fraport generates roughly a yearly turnover in the range of €160m. This figure is, however, result of a cross-sectional view, containing proportional revenues contributed by landing fees, rental income, airport or handling fees. The operating profit was a middle double-digit million euros figure. Fraport refused delivering precise results.

Heiner Siegmund