Munich Reports Rapid Cargo Growth

The Bavarian airport strengthens its lead position as the central European hub for freight transported in the holds of passenger aircraft.  This is documented by latest traffic data presented by the operator. According to the figures, Lufthansa is playing a dominant role in boosting MUC’s cargo volumes. It’s a result of the airlines’ continuous expansion of its intercontinental network.

Lufthansa is MUC’s main cargo contributor  -  courtesy operator
Lufthansa is MUC’s main cargo contributor - courtesy operator

That’s quite an impressive number: from 1 January to 31 July this year air freight volumes increased by record breaking 17.5 percentage points at MUC airport, says the operator. Provided this positive trend continuous in the weeks and months ahead, Munich’s cargo throughput will surpass 300,000 tons for the first time ever during a calendar year.

The largest portion of the tonnage has to be attributed to passenger traffic, i.e. cargo flown in the lower decks of passenger aircraft. “Although main deck capacity offered by clients like ABC, Yangtze River Express or Cargolux is gaining ground fast at our airport, it’s still the passenger aircraft that contribute the largest amount of tonnage handled at MUC by far,” states Markus Heinelt, Director Traffic Development Cargo for the airport. “The strengths of Munich are the attractive long-haul network mainly of the many passenger airlines serving our airport, very short transit times of cargo shipments and high quality handling provided by the ground staff,” concludes manger Heinelt.

Expanding catchment area
Most of the consignments leaving Europe originate in Bavaria as well as the highly industrialized southern parts of Germany. But simultaneously to their growth it is interesting to see that the hinterlands continue contributing increasing volumes, be it Austria, Northern Italy, the Czech Republic or even the Balkan countries. “Thanks to a dense trucking network that includes scheduled road feeder services to and from main locations in Central, Southern and Eastern Europe we are expanding our catchment area continuously, which contributes to quite some extent to our rising cargo figures,” explains the manager. 

MUC’s transcontinental network growing fast
Having said this he points out that Lufthansa is MUC’s prime client when it comes to belly-hold transports of air freight. It’s a logical result of the company’s strategy to develop Munich as a second domestic hub next to Frankfurt by offering travelers an attractive blend of intercontinental flights and regional feeder services. 

What’s good for the airline’s passengers is also beneficial for its cargo daughter that enjoys the increase of lower deck capacity as result of additional routes, frequencies served and the Lufthansa aircraft stationed at MUC airport.

Main gateway for belly freight
Lufthansa’s long-haul fleet based in Munich consists predominantly of Airbus A330s and A340s. The aircraft are capable of uplifting 15 tons or more per flight, depending on passenger luggage and the specific routes served.

“We consider Munich as our main belly hub,” states Angelika Kreil, LH Cargo’s Director of Handling at the Bavarian airport. She adds, that the future development of LH Cargo’s activities at Munich depends entirely on the decisions made by the managers responsible for the carrier’s passenger biz at MUC in terms of network strategy and fleet policy.

However, Angelika points at another aspect that comes into play to further stimulate cargo activities – joining forces with partnering airlines. For instance, the joint venture recently inked by the Japanese carrier ANA Cargo and Lufthansa Cargo which enables the parties to use the holds of the partner for their own transport purposes. This agreement based on “metal neutrality” seems to work well, both sides emphasize. This can be seen at Munich airport where the cargo duo has consolidated their activities and moved together under one roof.

Temperature sensitive cargo becomes increasingly important
Another business segment offering substantial potential in the months and years ahead is handling and transporting temperature critical airfreight, as Angelika Kreil points out. “In this specific field we have noted an increasing demand in general and particularly here in Munich, enabling us to achieve further growth.”

Heiner Siegmund  /  Michael Taweel

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