Shanghai-headquartered cargo carrier Yangtze River Express has decided to exit Frankfurt-Hahn and service Munich instead. The routing is result of a realignment of the airline’s European
network, including recently announced flights to Brussels. We spoke about the matter with MUC’s director cargo traffic development, Markus Heinelt.
Markus, what are the reasons behind Yangtze’s decision to abandon Hahn and choose your airport as their central European production platform?
M.H.: We understand their decision to choose our airport as an effort to get closer to their clients. The highly industrialized Bavarian and southern German landscape makes our location increasingly attractive as destination for cargo carriers. Let me add to this that it’s not only the many exporting and importing firms located in our affluent neighborhood that freight airlines and integrators have cast an eye on but also our central geographical position. To illustrate this please take a look at this map for a minute. Within ten hours trucking time you can reach nearly every city within Germany, the entire Austria, the Czech Republic, other parts of Eastern Europe, Switzerland and even northern Italy with its many exporting firms. So I would say that our new client Yangtze River Express decided in favor of their customers when opting for Munich.
What also speaks in our favor is the state-of-the-art cargo infrastructure. The landside cargo terminals are directly connected with the air cargo terminal and the cargo apron, which offers unbeatable ground- and turnover times for the efficient handling of all types of goods.
Please tell us the specifics - how many flights will they operate per week, which aircraft do they intend to put on the MUC route?
M.H.: Commencing immediately they will offer 5 weekly flights by operating Boeing 747-400 freighter aircraft, thus connecting Munich with Amsterdam, Brussels, Chicago, Shanghai and Tianjin in China.
How much tonnage do you expect will they contribute to your annual throughput at MUC?
M.H.: This remains to be seen since each new flight needs some time to get accepted by the market. But demand by shippers and forwarders is undoubtedly there. We therefore predict an amount between 30,000 and 40,000 tons per year.
By the way, Yangtze will open up an office at MUC and staff it with their own personnel that will steer all further market activities.
Could Yangtze’s decision to choose MUC positively influence further acquisitions of all-cargo carriers by your airport?
M.H.: Hopefully it will since we are not a white spot in the global cargo landscape any more. On the other hand we must remember that the acting persons in air freight are usually well informed about market developments, local opportunities, competitive challenges or special features and services offered at major airports. At the end of the day it comes to load factor and yields. In this respect we believe to be quite attractive for our current and hopefully future cargo airlines. That’s illustrated by our tonnage growth of 8.3% in the first two months of 2015. Based on our estimates we expect another record throughput this year.
Interview: Heiner Siegmund