United Taps into HAM Air Freight Market

As of this year’s winter schedule, the U.S. carrier will commence transporting cargo between Hamburg in Northern Germany and its gateway Newark Liberty International. A change of passenger aircraft from narrow body Boeing 757-200 to cargo-friendly wide body 767-300 will enable them to take this step.

UA will operate Boeing 767-300s between Newark and Hamburg  /  courtesy UA
UA will operate Boeing 767-300s between Newark and Hamburg / courtesy UA

This change of jetliners from small to big on this much requested intercontinental route has been a long awaited decision. Three years back leading United managers had indicated already that they intended serving this highly frequented route either by operating a Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” once delivered by producer Boeing or alternatively 767 equipment.

Increased capacity
In the eyes of Hamburg’s airport managers it makes no difference if it’s a 767 or 787 the carrier will deploy. The airport’s chairman of the managing board Michael Eggenschwiler says: “We are very pleased that United decided to expand its capacity offering, underlining the success of the very popular route Hamburg-New York.” He particularly emphasized that by utilizing a wide body passenger aircraft the transport of cargo will be enabled for the very first time.

757 mishaps
However, this will have to wait until October 25, when the winter schedule begins with United changing equipment. Transporting cargo in the holds of a passenger Boeing’s 757-200 on these 7 hour transatlantic flights is risky because the consignments add to the weight, thus upping the kerosene burn. In case of strong headwinds the situation could get somehow critical due to high fuel consumption. This happened occasionally some years back when United was still transporting air freight on this route. However, this was stopped immediately after a Newark-bound UA 757 had to make an unscheduled landing in Newfoundland to refuel because the aircraft’s tanks were nearly empty. Consequently, the Chicago headquarters of the airline decided on the spot to stop carrying any cargo between Hamburg and Newark on board the 757s. 

Forwarders welcome UA’s change of aircraft
Now, this will change soon, with UA operating cargo-friendly 767s. According to HAM’s chief Herr Eggenschwiler this offers an array of new possibilities for Hamburg’s and Northern Germany’s exporting industry. He emphasizes that for many local enterprises New York is by far the most important local market in the U.S. “United’s decision to deploy 767s on this route acknowledges the growing importance of this course,” Eggenschwiler commented. 

New Cargo Center at HAM
He went on to say that air freight will play a more important role at his airport in the coming years. This, because a new on-airport state-of-the-art Cargo Center is currently been constructed, scheduled to be operational in spring of next year. It offers capacity for an annual throughput of 150,000 tons, which should suffice the demand of the industry in the coming years. It complements the existing World Cargo Center that is manly utilized for consolidating consignments transported by road.
In 2014, around 116,000 passengers took a trip between Hamburg and New York, most of them flying nonstop with United. “Visiting Hamburg is obviously becoming increasingly popular for a growing number of U.S. tourists,” states Eggenschwiler. This will lead to balanced traffic flows, whereas in the past it was mostly German business men and tourists boarding a plane in Hamburg for flying to New York.

Heiner Siegmund

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