Last week the setting up of a so called World Cargo Airports Alliance (WCAA) was announced between Chinese Zhengzhou Airport and Frankfurt-Hahn. This raised major concerns in Luxembourg since there are spreading fears the pact might negatively affect aviation matters in the Grand Duchy and have in some way an impact on Cargolux. Therefore, Luxembourg’s leading union OGBL questioned Traffic Minister Francois Bausch to get first hand information. We document the main aspects tabled during today’s (12 May) meeting between the union and the politician.
OGBL’s Hubert Hollerich (pictured right) posed critical questions in today’s meeting with Luxembourg’s Minister Francois Bausch / source: OGBL – Dei Greng
Asked by OGBL’s Head of Aviation Division Hubert Hollerich why Luxembourg Airport has not joined the WCAA group Bausch said that Cargolux opposed such a step. “They wanted to maintain their operational flexibility.” This strategy would have been endangered in case the carrier would have entered into an exclusive agreement with Zhengzhou airport. This could probably result in traffic restriction with Cargolux being banned from serving other Chinese airports.
According to Bausch, the WCAA pact has no effect on the commercial agreement signed between Cargolux and Chinese public investor HNCA. The latter has invested €182m in Luxembourg, whereas not a single cent was channeled into Hahn’s coffers by the Chinese. When asked by the OGBL if Cargolux’s stakeholder HNCA (35%) was aware of the upcoming cooperation between Zhengzhou and Hahn Bausch replied that the communication process between HNCA, Cargolux and Luxembourg’s government could have been better. This is particularly true since Zhengzhou’s airport Director Huiyuan An is not only a member of the Cargolux Board of Directors but An was the one to sign the treaty with Hahn Airport.
Bausch assured the OGBL delegation that the WCAA treaty doesn’t negatively impact Luxembourg Findel Airport. Neither will there be any loss of air freight tonnage nor are plans in the drawer to redirect Cargolux flights from Luxembourg to 150 kilometers distant Hahn Airport. “We are fully aware of how important the Cargolux activities are and do our utmost to expand the domestic logistics sector,” the politician stated.
The minister further stressed that the new guidelines approved by the EU Commission on February 20, 2014 will impact the subsidization of airports, particularly financing infrastructural projects such as the renovation of a runway for instance. Some projects will have to be financed differently in future, he indicated. Or fees will have to be hiked, like car parking at airports. Having said this Bausch told the OGBL delegation that he’ll fiercely oppose any further liberalization policies tabled by the EU Commission, since social deterioration will be the inevitable result.