In 2014, a total of 309,000 tons of air freight and mail shipments were moved at Munich Airport. It’s a new record in the 20 year history of the Bavarian gateway.
And the next high overall volume is just around the corner, assures CEO Michael Kerkloh with reference to the ongoing upswing in cargo during the first weeks in 2015.
To enable further growth, constructing a third runway is indispensible, MUC’s helmsman stated, when banging the drum for this project.
Up to now Munich’s dynamic ascent to one of Europe’s top addresses in the aviation landscape was primarily driven by steadily increasing passenger numbers as result of new routes offered by
carriers and larger aircraft replacing smaller ones. Last year, however, this trend that seemed to be cemented for the future was broken for the first time with cargo increasing by 7.5 percent,
whereas the number of travelers went up by nearly 3 percent, totaling 39.7 million.
Intercontinental routes drive cargo further ahead
Is this already a paradigm shift at MUC? Time will tell, although it looks more like an alignment of traffic development. This was indirectly confirmed by CEO Kerkloh while presenting his airport’s annual result last Friday. By taking a closer look at the driving forces in air freight Herr Kerkloh stated: “The dynamic growth in freight traffic is also related to passenger traffic since 85% of the cargo handled at MUC is transported in the holds of passenger aircraft. And, as air freight is carried mostly on long-haul routes, the growth in international traffic has had a particularly strong impact.”
Kerkloh indicated that the trend of freight-only traffic is increasing. Although his airport was served by just very few full freighter operators in the past, it has meanwhile acquired quite a number of cargo airlines, among them the Volga-Dnepr subsidiaries Atran and AirBridge Cargo with the later linking MUC via its hub Moscow Sheremetievo with destinations in China and the Fareast.
As reported by CargoForwarder Global last week, also Chinese line-haul carrier Yangtze River Express has decided to serve Munich five times a week as of April, operating Boeing 747-400Fs. The airline is likely to contribute up to 40,000 tons to the annual volume turned over at MUC, estimates head of cargo traffic development, Markus Heinelt. Yangtze’s flights will commence this week.
Touching the financial results, Kerkloh spoke of an “outstanding year 2014.” Based on preliminary figures, earnings after taxes (EAT) for the entire FMG Group amounted to €100 million euros, and thus matched the high level of the previous year. "With this performance, Munich Airport remains one of the few airports in Germany still generating significant profits," he emphasized. Group EBITDA, at 475 million euros, was about 2 percent higher than the previous year's figure. The EBITDA margin was up one percentage point to 40 percent.
New passenger satellite
To cope with future traffic growth, Munich Airport and its close ally Lufthansa are currently building a new satellite terminal offering capacity for a further 11 million passengers per year. The facility is due to be completed next fall. Several months of extensive trial runs will follow to ensure thorough testing of all technical systems. Stated Kerkloh: "The new passenger handling facility will go into operation during the 2016 summer timetable period – and before the end of June. We will announce the exact opening date in the middle of this year."
Remarking on Munich Airport's second major expansion project – the building of a third runway – Kerkloh stressed the long-term benefit resulting for Bavaria: "There is a very close relationship between mobility and the prosperity of an economic region. That is why, ultimately, this future project is also about how our state will be positioned in 20 or 30 years – which companies will set up operations here and what career prospects it will offer the generation of our children and grandchildren."
Europe's first five-star airport
MUC has become Europe's first five-star airport. The coveted title, considered been aviation’s “Oscar” by the industry, is granted by the London-based Skytrax Institute. Their auditors spent months examining every aspect of the Bavarian hub. The airport launched a quality offensive back in 2013 to develop and continuously improve its performance in the five categories "First-class ambiance and comfort,” "Range of services and amenities," "Efficient processes,” "Ease of transit through airport" and "Outstanding friendliness.”
For Michael Kerkloh, this seal of approval is a further confirmation of the high-quality work delivered by the entire airport family: "Alongside the Asian airports Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo-Haneda, Munich Airport is the fifth airport to join the five-star club – and the first in Europe. We owe this success not only to our hard-working project team, but ultimately to our entire airport workforce."
To earn five-star status, an airport must present a seamless high-quality experience along the entire travel chain. The criteria range from clear signage and navigation to outstanding service, attractive shopping and dining, immaculate cleanliness and a modern ambiance.