Exclusive - Finnair Cargo Eyes Additional Hub in Central Europe

The Nordic carrier intends to focus increasingly on special products and care intensive items. A key element of this strategy is building a second or even a third hub in Central Europe, next to the airline’s existing gateways Helsinki and Brussels Zaventem.
Also, a cornerstone of the future program to become one of the top 5 cargo carriers between Europe and Northeast Asia is the construction of a state-of-the-art air freight terminal at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

Antti Kuusenmaki
Antti Kuusenmaki

Presumably, Antti Kuusenmaki will get a number of phone calls from airport managers in Germany, Switzerland or Austria when this report is out.
Why? Because Finnair’s VP Cargo confirmed to CargoForwarder Global that he and his management team are looking for a suitable airport in the heart of Europe for consolidating shipments and feeding them into Helsinki Airport both by air and by road. Finnair Cargo’s hubbing activities at Brussels Zaventem, which started in 2013 and are obviously running to full satisfaction, seems to serve as best-practice model. There, an A300 freighter operated by DHL’s subsidiary European Air Transport Leipzig GmbH connects BRU with HEL twice weekly on behalf of Finnair Cargo. In addition “we operate our own A340 passenger aircraft also two times a week on this route, offering the market plenty of lower deck capacity” explains Antti.
He adds to this that Finnair Cargo might also decide to increase its BRU activities further instead of building a second or even third hub in Central Europe.
It seems that at this time of the decision finding process nothing is carved in stone yet.

 

Cargo terminal project gains speed
Unlike the still pending European gateway decision, contracts for building a brand new cargo terminal at the carrier’s home turf Vantaa Airport have been cut and dried. “We’ve got an approved permit, so within the coming weeks construction will commence,” affirms cargo helmsman Kuusenmaki.

The €80 million facility will comprise 35,000 sqm and offer three main sections for different commodities – general cargo, seafood and pharmaceuticals, he says. Both the pharma and seafood sections of the new terminal ensure special cargo handling in appropriate temperature conditions.
In addition to the special cargo handling zones the new terminal utilizes modern technology and automation to ensure high quality air freight service. There will be an automated storage system as well as a new ULD storage (ETW) system.

Image of Finnair Cargo’s new freight terminal  /  pictures: courtesy AY
Image of Finnair Cargo’s new freight terminal / pictures: courtesy AY

According to plans, the complex will be operational in spring of 2017. Its location was defined to optimize the ground transport from the cargo terminal to the stands of the wide-body aircraft at Vantaa.
Still undecided is the fate of the carrier’s existing cargo terminal at HEL airport, Antti states.

Finnair is European launching carrier of the A350
Air freight is an important revenue source for Finnair (IATA: AY), with approximately 17 % of intercontinental revenue coming from cargo. Over 80% of shipments transported by Finnair Cargo is transit freight and Finnair's new Airbus A350 fleet will bring 50% more cargo capacity by 2020. In total, the carrier has signed orders for 19 A350. “Therefore, it is essential that we also have a new cargo terminal to ensure smooth handling of these growing cargo flows,” says Chief Commercial Officer, Juha Järvinen.

Russian market plays a lesser role for AY Cargo
Asked if the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia had any negative consequences for Finnair Cargo’s sales manager Kuusenmaki speaks of “no serious impact.” He goes on to say that “the Russian market plays only a very limited role for our biz since we concentrate on transporting air freight between Europe and the Far East.”

Heiner Siegmund

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