MUC Eyes Freighter Traffic

Munich Airport has evolved as Germany’s number two gateway for passenger traffic, next to Frankfurt. However, all-cargo aircraft have been rare guests up to now. This will change, announces Managing Director Michael Kerkloh.

MUC’s MD hopes to see more all-cargo aircraft at his airport in the near future  /  source: MUC
MUC’s MD hopes to see more all-cargo aircraft at his airport in the near future / source: MUC

“So far, we’ve mainly been a passenger airport, seeing growing numbers of travelers each year,” says the manager. A very successful development, he adds, demonstrated by the many accolades for being Europe’s best airport and a much appreciated second prize for accommodating VIPs in one of the finest lounges offered at any passenger terminal worldwide.
Merits, which show that Munich is on the right track.

However, up to now this has been a rather one-sided growth, based almost purely on passenger numbers.  That’s why it’s time to adjust this strategy, Michael says while symbolically rolling up his sleeves. “We are determined to put more emphasis on the development of cargo.” He points out that MUC is centered in one of the industrial heartlands of Germany, having players like BMW, Audi, Adidas, Siemens, MAN, Eurocopter, and many more important producers practically next door. “Here in Bavaria we have a positive and favorable business environment.”

So why truck most shipments produced in the vicinity to Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Paris, in order to uplift these goods?, he rhetorically asks. “It makes much more sense to load them on board of freighter aircraft right here.” This saves time and money and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that are caused when trucking the items over longer distances.

And there’s another important point which he tables: “We are a very functional airport, enabling forwarders, handling agents, and airlines the fast processing of goods and very competitive turn-around times of aircraft.”

While looking at the map Kerkloh also mentions the vast catchment area Munich is located in. It includes Nuremberg and the neighboring state of Baden-Wuerttemberg as well as parts of Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic or even northern Italy and the Balkan states. “There is plenty of cargo we would be happy to handle here.”

Interestingly, MUC is one of the rare places having sufficient spare room for enlarging the ground infrastructure, when needed. From all existing German airports Munich has the most favorable options for further strategic growth, including air freight, he says.

Therefore, the landing of more all-cargo aircraft is just a question of time and not a matter of yes or no. So far, however, only Cargolux and AirBridge Cargo are operating freighter aircraft at MUC, apart from integrators like FedEx or ABC’s subsidiary Atran Airlines.

So why should more carriers decide to serve MUC airport? The answer includes a number of aspects: The volumes generated by the regional producers, the efficiency of the airport, its highly dedicated sales team, and a factor hardly to be influenced by the management: the increasing numbers of A380s that land at European airports or are even based there. “The more A380s we see the more limited is the capacity for transporting cargo,” Michael points out. In fact, while a Triple Seven passenger jet can accommodate plus-25 tons per flight in its holds, while the A380 can only uplift around ten tons, depending on the luggage weight of the passengers. Kerkloh hopes to capitalize on this gradual trend to reduced lower deck transport capacity by inviting airlines to operate more freighter aircraft on the MUC route.

It would also help the State of Bavaria that receives yearly tax payments amounting to nearly €1bn from the airport. More traffic, more taxes, more jobs and an increase of wealth in the neighboring communities are standing on Munich’s formula for building the future.

Heiner Siegmund 

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