FCS – Ten Years After

Fraport Cargo Services, best known as FCS to its clients, has just turned ten years old after having being formed as a separate cargo handling entity in early 2004 by the mother company, Fraport AG.

Hans-Georg Emmert, Head of Sales & Marketing at FCS Diana Schoeneich, co-Managing Director at FCS / pictures: FCS

FCS recently celebrated this event with a magnificent party in FRA (CFG reported) and now its maybe time to look a little behind the scenes and question future plans of what FCS states is Frankfurt Airport’s second largest cargo handler behind Lufthansa Cargo, which is to a large extent self-handling.

CargoForwarder Global met with Diana Schoeneich, co- Managing Director and Hans-Georg Emmert, Head of Sales & Marketing.

Quality, added value services and customer satisfaction.
These are three aspects on which the FCS management apparently places much value.
In its ten years of existence FCS has not grown so much with regards to staff numbers, but definitely more so on tonnages and clients handled.
Whereby at the beginning of 2004 annual volumes were around 332,000 tons, the end of 2013 showed a remarkable 35 percent increase of up to 450,000 tons.
Market share at FRA is said to be 24 percent which is a plus of 4 percent on 2004.
One might argue that the 4 percent increase over a ten year period is not that much. However, considering that there were less cargo handlers at FRA ten years ago than there are now and that the cake has been split into even more pieces, the result seems not so bad.
Hans-Georg Emmert explained that total warehouse space has only increased by around 12 percent in the above mentioned period, but that with better area utilization and the introduction of modern systems, a far better ton handling per sqm has been achieved.
“Our clients benefit from this development as we offer a far better and streamlined service,” Georg adds.

FCS customer portfolio is large and varied.
The Fraport daughter presently handles around 40 different carriers, a mixture of passenger and all cargo airlines.
The largest airline on their books as far as tonnage handled is concerned is definitely AirBridge Cargo with their 14-16 B747F rotations into FRA every week. They are closely followed by Air China and Emirates, who both operate a mix of passenger and cargo aircraft.
Georg Emmert stresses the fact that for FCS, ”it’s not size that matters” – “we handle a mixture of carriers from all over the world, large, medium and small, but it’s the service aspect which counts and that’s why we lay a lot of value on each airline client being handled completely and effectively within their needs,” he states.

It is interesting to note that FCS handles these 450,000 tons almost all in one building with the exception of Asiana Airlines which is handled in a separate 5,000 sqm (ex Japan Airlines building) facility next to the main one.
There are no dedicated import/export handling areas mapped out in the facility, although larger carriers such as ABC and EK do have allocated floor areas to themselves.
FCS management is happy with this concept and claims that customers receive full “floor handling satisfaction.”
Emmert says that FCS is not presently facing acute space problems despite having added new clients during the first half of 2014. This he says is thanks to the floor optimization as well as stacker and redefined systems, which all add up to an optimal handling.
FCS estimates that tonnages handled in 2014 will be almost on par to those of 2013. They also see a slow pick up in business, but it’s nowhere near what it was in 2010.
This is all OK as regards the cargo once it’s in the warehouse.
The main problem for FCS, as well as other handlers is the heavy influx of trucks and the lack of infrastructure to load and offload them optimally.

The truck misery problem at FRA has been a sore subject for the past couple of years.
Diana Schoeneich states “this is a problem which is on top of our priority list as we can’t expect clients to be 100 percent happy when the service in front of the door is not what it is in the warehouse.” She stresses that this is not a problem created by FCS, but more so due to Cargo City South having reached its limits and the now urgent need for a viable solution to ensure that cargo is not hanging around inside or outside of the warehouses.
Diane is quite emphatic on this issue and says that the newly appointed “Task force CCS” for the purpose of streamlining truck movements, “must come up with some good solutions very quickly.”

FCS plans the introduction in the coming weeks of a new “Customer Service Centre” with the aim of getting even closer to the client’s individual needs. The present C.S. team will be increased by a further five staff.

Mongolian carrier MIAT, serving FRA with Boeing 767, is FCS’s latest client. MIAT’s GSA is Globe Air Cargo  /  source: MIAT
Mongolian carrier MIAT, serving FRA with Boeing 767, is FCS’s latest client. MIAT’s GSA is Globe Air Cargo / source: MIAT

Future expansion at FCS?
Is there any radical expansion plan on the books? - we asked.
The answer was basically that although FCS is an independent entity within the Fraport  concern, it is still tied closely within the overall Fraport strategy.
The question (which is unanswered) is whether cargo receives enough attention from the mother company or whether it is considered by those at the very top as being “just one of the company enterprises.”

Fraport is busy in so called consulting and management activities in various parts of the world, from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey and other areas.
However, hardly any of these activities are geared towards the inclusion of cargo handling.
As large and efficient as it is, FCS geographically remains a local FRA player.
Will the relatively new FCS top management want to, or be able to change this in order that FCS can expand its portfolio and thereby give itself and its clients more “added value?”
The much publicized “marriage” between FCS and Dubai’s Dnata, whereby it was strongly rumored that Dnata would invest to the amount of 49 percent in FCS, seems to have died. Could it be that Dnata got scared off by too much premature publicity or is it that they are still sitting in the sidelines and that this may well be a future possibility for both parties?

When reading between the lines, one could get the impression that FCS is still tied too much to the mother company’s business development, which is maybe not partly or entirely “cargo friendly.”
If so - a mistake we think !
Simply because competition continues to increase, space at FRA’s Cargo City South remains tight as the planned expansion there has slowed down due to lack of investment and when the market hopefully does pick up by 2-3% per annum, where will FCS have space to handle new entrants.

The airport management is apparently busy in trying to attract new airlines to FRA, but are they taking the cargo aspect enough into consideration for the future?

Despite many problems on hand and those which may come, both Diana Schoeneich and Georg Emmert are convinced that FCS has achieved a lot during its ten year self handling period and that with the tools on hand and further added value offerings such as a new import handling system, cool facility optimization and others, that they will continue to offer what they call a “first class service” to their clients.

John Mc Donagh

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