On 30 June Finnair Cargo officially laid the cornerstone of its new cargo terminal at Helsinki Airport. The new cargo complex is part of a group strategy.
On the occasion Pasi Nopanen, Finnair’s Vice President Global Sales announced plans to set up an additional cargo hub at London Heathrow, complementing the existing facilities in Helsinki and Brussels.
Heathrow may well be developed into another Finnair cargo hub, following the company’s joining IAG Cargo’s Partner Plus program, states manager Nopanen. “Taking into account that Brussels is
doing fine as a second hub and looking at the market levels in Europe, this project is the only concrete one at the moment.”
A350s up Finnair Cargo’s capacity
Nopanen went on to say: “Finnair Cargo is an important division within the group and our CEO has already said that the investment in the new A350s would not have been possible without the contribution of cargo. The A350s will bring in more capacity at reduced fuel burn: one pallet position or 4 to 5 tons per flight. On top of this we will have up to 19 of these aircraft, which means that by 2020 our cargo capacity will have doubled compared to 2010.”
The decision to buy the cargo-friendly Airbuses follows an earlier decision to dispose of the long-haul freighters, while keeping the short-haul ones in the fleet, at least for a while. Until a few months ago the feeding of cargo between Brussels and Helsinki was operated by MD-11’s of Nordic Global Airlines, in which Finnair was a co-shareholder (CargoForwarder Global reported). This is no longer the case, so that today the service has been sub-contracted to DHL Aviation. “This is a win-win situation for both of us, since this gives DHL a better use of their aircraft,” says Pasi.
The idea to open up Brussels Airport as a second hub two years ago was inspired by the fact that Brussels is not only the center of a thriving pharma industry but is also heavily investing in the logistics related areas. Pasi: “In Finland we have a good pharmaceutical industry as well, but we look at this niche worldwide.”
Due to its focus on this demanding product it is therefore little surprising that Finnair Cargo was only too eager to join the IATA CEIV Pharma certification project initiated and developed by Brussels Airport Company (BAC). This decision apparently paid off as it made Finnair Cargo the world’s first airline to receive this type of certification. The certificate was officially presented as a hors-d’oeuvre at the cornerstone ceremony in Helsinki.
As a hub Brussels is working very well, with the A300s flying fully loaded in both directions, supported by the belly capacity on the A340s that are deployed a few times a week. Pasi: “We have to make sure that we can support our hub development with sufficient capacity.”
Recently, Finnair Cargo swopped its former GSA ATC for IAS, Pasi admits. “We always have a reason for the things we do. With this new GSA we are able to accomplish things that we could not do with our former GSA. This is a people’s business after all.”
State-of-the-art cargo terminal at HEL
Over the last few weeks rumour would have it that Finnair Cargo is also considering other hubs, among others in Central-Europe. Opening up in London would however enable the company to sell Finnair Cargo’s services to South-America, Pasi comments that, “any operation we start must be viable. You cannot eat the whole cake at the same time.”
Apart from pharma, Finnair Cargo has created itself a nice as a transporter of fish and seafood, says Pasi. “Thanks to our geographical advantage, we can guarantee delivery of fresh salmon from Northern Norway to Asia in 36 hours.”
Both specialties are well reflected in the design of the new cargo terminal, which will be operational in 2017 and will be able to handle 450,000 tons a year. It will be 31,000 m² in size, with three dedicated compartments for general cargo, pharma (3,000 m²) and perishables (3,500 m²). Equipped with technology provided by specialist Lodige Industries as reported by CargoForwarder Global 29 June, it will be automated where needed.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels