CargoForwarder Global in an exclusive interview with Prof. Dr. Salvatore Barbaro, Chairman of the Hahn Board of Directors, Markus Bunk, Managing Director of Hahn Airports and Christoph Goetzmann, Director Sales at Hahn, received some insight into what both the local government and the airport management wish for the airport’s future. Since passenger traffic remains stagnant, increasing cargo throughput is Hahn’s big hope.
The state of Rhineland-Palatinate has made it public that their intention is to offer a debt-free Hahn airport for sale and is openly looking for an adequate investor who is willing to take over
the airport and its staff.
They are convinced that this investor, once the European Union gives its green light, could be found within the coming months.
If the EU Commission gives a thumbs-up and lays out the conditions thereto, then an official takeover tender for the airport will be made public.
Whether this can happen by the last quarter of this year remains to be seen.
It is understood that all bidder will be welcome and not just those who may be already involved in airport acquisitions or management.
However, Hahn must continue to come up with new ideas!
The new airport management already started a series of actions earlier this year in order to try and put the airport more onto the map.
Negotiations with various carriers were undertaken and the contract with Air China Cargo is seen as a large step forward in trying to convince carriers that Hahn and its infrastructure meet international standards. Aviation experts believe Hahn could achieve a leading position in cargo.
Most of the large airports worldwide are concentrating more on the retail business within their four walls, than on running the airports themselves.
Hahn is in this sense rather hampered, as the present traffic flow does not attract larger and better paying retail firms.
Presently Mc Donald’s and Coffee Fellows are the two main brands in this area, with Hahn airport trying to attract further service providers.
Mr Barbaro stated that they have to come up with more innovative business models.
Passenger traffic is stagnant
Ryanair remains the number one carrier through Hahn despite the fact that they (in their words) have had to reduce frequencies at the airport in order to allocate their aircraft also at other airports. This is said to be because Ryanair has in the meantime opened new destinations and is waiting for its new fleet of B737NGs to start being delivered.
Another aspect could be that the “no frills” passenger market is being practiced by various operators using legacy airports, with the result that many passengers don’t feel the need to travel via Hahn. Adds managing Director Markus Bunk: “When calculating the overall expenses for a journey and really breaking down time of travel, our airport is back in the loop.”
Wizzair has recently announced a new service from Hahn to Danzig and this says Herr Bunk helps to increase revenues.
Another good supporter he says is Sun Express.
However, Barbaro and the airport executives are in agreement that more has to be done.
Detailed discussions with various touristic entities are under way and more emphasis is being put on generating ethnic traffic to and from Hahn, announces Goetzmann.
Cargo remains the high hope!
Companies such as VG Cargo and HACS have invested large amounts in expanding their handling facilities in Hahn in the hope that present carriers such as Silk Way Airlines and now Air China Cargo will increase frequencies and that the Hahn management aims to attract new carriers to the airport.
The recently much published WCCA agreement with Zhengzhou airport still requires further development. The only carrier under this concept is Atlas Air yet.
Air Cargo Germany, now re-christened Air Cargo Global, has decided that its official base will be Frankfurt-Main. They do, however, plan to operate regular cargo flights from FRA, while Hahn remains the maintenance base and airport for their charter ops.
This carrier, if they wish to survive, may well be well advised to switch their operation totally into Hahn.
Frankfurt-Hahn would certainly welcome them back with open arms.
Silk Way Airlines operates up to seven weekly flights now and announced last week that they will be increased to nine per week, with some of them being conducted with their brand new Boeing 747-8F.
Goetzmann states that “we have all the up-to-date equipment needed for a speedy cargo handling operation here and our Road Feeder Services (RFS) are now streamlined in such a way as to give us a competitive edge here in Hahn.”
Things are seen to be moving in the right direction, but there is common consensus that more carriers have to be brought “on line.” In an ever more competitive environment HHN offers the easy but
tailored solution of a niche player, emphasizes Herr Goetzmann.
Maybe that by winning Air China Cargo, Hahn will have opened the door for other interested carriers.
Much still has to be done.
Both Mr Barbaro and Mr Goetzmann are of the same opinion that there is a lot to be done even if the airport is sold, or not, to a future interested party.
- It’s not a complex airport they say.
- Local processes are easy to follow and are very transparent for clients.
- The airport does not have any access problems and is easily reachable from all areas.
- Road Feeder Services (RFS) are now offered directly to and from the airport without the need for incoming cargo to be transported via Frankfurt-Main for example.
- The airport management has an open ear for customer wishes and claims to be highly efficient with regards to pricing and more importantly, for guaranteeing transit times.
- The “supply chain” has top priority in the Sales Management Strategy with the aim of being able to keep transit times below those of their large competitors.
- Although being a niche player the airport provides a wide range of tailored logistics solutions.
Only when all of these are achieved, can the three gentlemen Mr Barbaro, Mr. Bunk and Mr Goetzmann afford to sit back and breathe somewhat easier.
John Mc Donagh / Heiner Siegmund