Hahn Airport - “Standstill is Not an Option“

The recent Air Cargo Europe event held alongside the bi-annual Transport & Logistics Trade Fair in Munich gave CargoForwarder Global the chance to question Hahn Airport’s management and representatives of the new owners on the future of the airport.

Hahn managers (l > r): John Kohlsaat, Christoph Goetzmann and Alice Huang of Chinese investor HNA, Roger Scheifele  -  photo: hs
Hahn managers (l > r): John Kohlsaat, Christoph Goetzmann and Alice Huang of Chinese investor HNA, Roger Scheifele - photo: hs

2016 was not good - but 2017 signs are much better
It’s no secret that the airport had a pretty rough ride during 2016 as the then planned takeover by a so-called Chinese investor fell through and traffic figures in both passenger and cargo went down again.
This, it is hoped, is a thing of the past.

The first quarter 2017 shows a noticeable upswing according to John Kohlsaat, Hahn’s Senior Vice President Sales.
He stated that passenger figures between January and March declined 8,1% year-on-year but that cargo throughput went up by a staggering 41% during the same period.
A total of 23,700 tonnes were managed during the first three months.
The mainstay of the cargo operation are the Silk Way Airlines flights along with Etihad Airways twice weekly B777F flights and Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) freighters.
On top of this the recently introduced twice weekly Senator operation to the USA using an Air Icelandic B747 freighter, have proven to be very successful he said, and due to this a third frequency seems to be on the cards.

Hahn needs new business and critical mass
According to Kohlsaat, the airport still suffers somewhat under the stigma of “being to far away from main centres.“
The Road Feeder Service (RFS) for cargo remains a blockage in some freight agents eyes and the airport management sees the need to concentrate more in this area along with developing a viable transfer station in the Frankfurt area, preferably at FRA Airport’s Cargo City South.

Roger Scheifele, Hahn’s hands on Cargo Manager, goes a step further when evaluating the airport’s cargo role in the future.
He sees the distinct possibility of extending the cargo operation to include a stronger cargo charter branch.
There is good potential there, he thinks, and the location along with the airport’s 24/7 operation should make it an ideal choice for many shippers.
The airport has its own Animal Welfare Department and there have recently been quite a few horse charters to Arabian countries out of Hahn.

Cargo traffic is picking up again at Hahn Airport  -  courtesy: HHN
Cargo traffic is picking up again at Hahn Airport - courtesy: HHN

The new owners state that: “standstill is not an option.” 
The Chinese HNA Group which has acquired 82,5% of Hahn from the Rhineland-Palatinate government is not known for just acquiring companies and leaving it at that.

This was made clear by Christoph Goetzmann, who along with Alice Huang of HNA were representing the new majority owners  on the Hahn Airport booth at ACE.
He made it clear that the HNA Group is adamant that standstill is not an option at Hahn and that changes have to be, and will be implemented during the coming months in order to boost sales, enhance operations and generate better bottom line results there.

Aircraft maintenance is one field which can be extended further. Presently there are  contracts in place to the tune of around 60 million euros, and this can be expanded.

HNA is sticking to its plan to initiate a further three weekly cargo flights through Hahn and also the introduction of passenger charter services from China.
The exact starting date still remains open according to Goetzmann.

It seems that the success of Liege Airport is being followed closely by Hahn’s managers and maybe they see their own chance for future success around this model.

Indeed - standstill is not an option.

John Mc Donagh

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