ILA Air Show Illuminated Crippled BER Airport

During six days, from 20-25 May, the aviation world turned their eyes to Berlin-held ILA. The sparkling event held at a segregated area of BER International concealed for a short time the massive technical and personal problems the would-be airport is still facing.

The cargo industry was also well represented at this year’s ILA trade show  / source pictures: hs
The cargo industry was also well represented at this year’s ILA trade show / source pictures: hs

The ILA show was hardly over when the BER management had to admit a new scandal – allegations of corruption against their Technical Director Jochen Grossmann. He is accused of having demanded €500,000 from a BER supplier, otherwise the company wouldn’t get a major order. Meanwhile, the manager is suspended and the prosecutor is investigating against Grossmann.
This new blow might further delay the entire BER project, with no date of the airport’s inauguration yet in sight.

Matthias Kaup
Matthias Kaup

However, BER’s obviously never ending problems didn’t play a role during the ILA days. The five-day trade show attracted 230,000 visitors and highlighted the new Airbus A350 XWB, one of Emirates Airlines’ A380s, and an An-124-100 operated by Volga-Dnepr. During a cargo panel AeroLogic’s Director Network Coordination Matthias Kaup presented his carrier to the audience, pointing out that AeroLogic’s home base Leipzig/Halle airport is almost ideal for cargo operations due to enabling 24/7/365 traffic. Kaup announced that AeroLogic intends to drop Atlanta as destination next month and commence flying to Chennai instead. In total, the 50/50 joint venture of DHL Express and Lufthansa Cargo serves 21 destinations and operates 121 flights each week.

Valery Gabriel
Valery Gabriel

Vice President Charter Ops at Volga-Dnepr, Valery Gabriel illustrated vividly the uplift capability of the An-124-100 by highlighting many recent missions. However, the manager also hinted that since 2012 the number of charter flights conducted by his airline has continuously gone back as result of reduced demand. Only exception was transport on behalf of the oil and gas industry to and from Papua New Guinea. Executive Board Member Karl-Rudolph Rupprecht of LH Cargo expressed some cautious hopes concerning the development of the European cargo market that seems to slightly recover as Q1 cargo figures show. A positive trend, major gateways like Frankfurt, Paris CDG, Amsterdam, London Heathrow or Munich are benefiting from, reporting a rise of tonnage between 2.8% (LHR) and 7.3% (AMS) in Q1of 2014 against the same period last year.

Karl-Rudolph Rupprecht
Karl-Rudolph Rupprecht

Managing Director Ralf Beisel of the German Airport Association ADV highlighted in his presentation that in future, an increasing number of cargo shipments will be transported by rail. This accounts for exports stemming from places of 400-plus kilometers distance to an airport of choice, and for imports with opposite flows. Taking this into account, it is vital for cargo gateways to became tri-modal airports, offering a combination of traffic modes. Stated Beisel: “Capital investments of airports in their logistics facilities and ground infrastructure are the key for companies to settle in the vicinity and doing business there.” This is illustrated by Leipzig-Halle that attracted not only DHL Express, but also BMW, Daimler, and Amazon. The same goes for Cologne, chosen by the U.S. integrators UPS and FedEx as hub.

Ralf Beisel
Ralf Beisel

Torsten Jueling, Product Manager Cargo and Head of Marketing and Sales at Berlin’s Airports announced that Rolls Royce Aero Engines informed the cargo community at the ILA about increased flows of shipments from their enlarged production plant for turbines in Dahlewitz, near Berlin. According to Torsten, the RR engines will be handled at the new BER Cargo Center that’s already fully operational. Afterwards, the items will be trucked to 30 km distant Tegel airport. This free of any charge truck shuttle service is slated to commence next October.

Torsten Jueling
Torsten Jueling

By then the bribery allegations against BER’s former technical chief Grossmann might be decided by the judges.


Heiner Siegmund 

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