Maastricht Aachen Airport is Back in the Game

On 1 July 2016, Trade Centre Global Investments BV (TCGI) took over the management of Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST). Barely three months later Russian newcomer SkyGate Airlines landed at the airport. Managing Director Wiel Dohmen is convinced that great days are ahead for the airport located at the borders between the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Managing Director Wiel Dohmen of Maastricht Aachen Airport  -  photo: ms
Managing Director Wiel Dohmen of Maastricht Aachen Airport - photo: ms

TCGI is a holding company whose portfolio also includes Global GSA Group, and Global Airlines Services. Not coincidently, Global Airlines Services is the GSA of two long-standing cargo companies serving MST, Royal Jordanian and Turkish Airlines.

SkyGate Airlines flies with a leased B747-400F the route Moscow Sheremetyevo (SVO)-MST-Baku Heydar Aliyev Airport (GYD)-SVO, four times a week. Baku acts as a transit point for Far East cargo, brought in by Silkway Airlines, with which it has an interline agreement. This situation is temporary, says Wiel. “As soon as SkyGate has more aircraft at its disposal, it will fly directly from the Far East to Maastricht.”

Turkish Airlines Cargo (THY) has been at the airport since 1994, bringing in 7 Airbus A-330Fs per week from and to Istanbul Ataturk (IST). “Turkish also serves Nairobi and, following the flower season, the company will bring us up to 11 flights this February.”

Royal Jordanian (RJ) flies the route MST-Amman (AMM)-JFK-AMM-JFK-MST four times a week. Currently, RJ uses A-310Fs, but in the near future it will change to 330Fs. On top of this MST welcomes ad-hoc flights from Qatar, Emirates, and Saudia etc.
 
First line logistics
One could say that MST is sort of squeezed in between Liege, Cologne-Bonn, Amsterdam and Brussels, but this can work out as an advantage as the other airports are nearing congestion, says Wiel. The managing director is convinced that TGCI has secured the future of the airport for the middle to long term. The group was granted a license for 10 years, extendable to 25.

 

“We may not be Brussels or Amsterdam, but I think we may grow into a beautiful airport for some customers. You also mustn’t forget that even if we are on the border of Belgium and Germany, we are still in the Netherlands. This is an important issue with respect to fiscal representation, as a lot of the products brought in are intended for the Dutch market. Our philosophy is that you should always start from your own strength. We are a one-stop airport, able to perform the entire process, through a single point of contact.”

Recently MST has added a 9,000 m² logistics warehouse right on the airside. “So in the first line we offer all sorts of logistic services that would normally be performed on the 2nd line.” The new facility complements an older warehouse of the same size, which is soon to be replaced by a brand new one. The new warehouse is TAPA-certified, says Wiel. “We handle a lot of hi-tech.”

SkyGate Boeing 747-400 freighter at MST Airport  -  courtesy GAS
SkyGate Boeing 747-400 freighter at MST Airport - courtesy GAS


 Broad spectre of services
MAA is however not joining the growing number of European airports vying for IATA CEIV Pharma certification. “If everybody wants to go into pharma logistics, they will all get a rather small piece of the cake. I am trying to keep our offer as broad as possible. This, again, is where logistics comes in. Apart from the new on-tarmac warehouses mentioned above, MST has also built a logistics facility at the east side of the airport, to accommodate freight trucked in and out. This is important, as all the larger players in the transport and logistics industry are present at the airport.

Contrary to other airports, MST does not seem to be too much hindered by protesting neighbours. Wiel agrees: “You can hear that there is an airport, but on the other hand we are closed 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. That is a reason why we cannot and will not have an integrator. The night closure will always be maintained. You see: we are willing to make some concessions.”

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Full use of runway
As from next April, the airport’s 2,750 m runway can be used to its full length. Today, this use is limited to 2,500 m only. “This will enable our customers to reach the U.S. and China without additional fuel stops, which is another trump card for our future development. The discussion has led to some fears that a full use of the runway would attract larger aircraft types, but we already have them!” 

During 2016 MST reported a total volume of 83,000 tonnes, up from 74,000t in 2015. Of last year’s volume, 66,000 tonnes were actually flown, 17,000 were trucked. “I think we have the potential to go for 240,000 tonnes by 2024,” Wiel Dohmen concludes.

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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