Helsinki Vantaa Airport is AirBridge Cargo’s latest addition to its route map. Finland capital’s airport is served twice weekly with Boeing 747 freighters – Mondays and Fridays. The first
flight, coming from Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport, was operated last Monday (26 January).
We spoke with ABC’s Robert van de Weg, Senior VP Marketing and Sales, about his carrier’s decision to add HEL to its network.
Q: Robert, ABC says that the Finland flights allow the company to support those imports and exports which require a direct Helsinki service. Could you be a bit more specific,
A: From China it will be mainly consumer electronics, whereas Finnish exports will be predominantly machinery and perishables.
Q: From HEL the freighter flies onto FRA. We assume that this is a ferry flight, correct?
A: Yes, HEL/FRA will only carry transit cargo due to the lack of 5th freedom rights. To start up Helsinki in combination with another station reduces our start-up risks.
Q: What is your overall impression of the Finnish cargo market?
A: The market development is not spectacular but it is steady and we saw the opportunity once freighter capacity to Helsinki was reduced by the end of 2014. Trucking from central Europe to/from Helsinki is simply a long way which can be avoided through direct, on-line service.
Q: You commenced flying to Munich, Leipzig, Malmo and to some other European cities last year. Now it’s Helsinki. Which additional European destination is ABC keen serving soon?
A: We like to surprise. We always look for opportunities even though Amsterdam and Frankfurt will be the major points of activity for us we are looking at niches to complement this.
Q: What are ABC’s 2015 targets in sales, tonnage growth, network offerings?
A: Our network will be powered by 2 additional B747 aircraft coming in during 2015. First of all we plan to make our existing network stronger e.g. we will add China/USA capacity during spring of 2015. Also we are planning to add Los Angeles and Hanoi on-line within the same time-frame. Other opportunities we are looking at in particular are South East Asia and the USA. The U.S. import market certainly seems to be the growth engine in the near term.
Q: How much does the European market contribute currently to ABC’s overall sales, is it 20 %, or even 30 percent?
A: More or less 30%. There is still a lot to be gained but key for us is to diversify the network further and to attract more front-line sales management in Europe. We have done so in France, Germany, Scandinavia and Italy. We aim to get even closer to our customers and are taking steps accordingly.
Q: Finally: You’ve been with ABC for almost a year now. Which are your main impressions and which conclusion(s) do you draw?
A: Time flies - I enjoy it! The company is on solid ground and is growing. We see many opportunities and there is a lot to be done.