After a long drawn-out process, the future of Air Berlin’s air cargo sales set-up has finally been decided. Leisure Cargo which manages the belly space for 14 international carriers, will, as expected, be taken over by the Berlin-based Zeitfracht Group.
Air Berlin flights offered plenty of belly space
One of the major questions for the new owners is surely which carrier or carriers can be attracted to take up the slack after Air Berlin’s belly capacity has finally disappeared. Leisure Cargo which was founded in 2000, made a name for itself as total cargo management provider with a unique business model. Their portfolio was gradually expanded and by 2013 they were selling the belly capacity of 18 different airlines.
Leisure Cargo’s present portfolio consists of 14 carriers, one of which was the now defunct Air Berlin. CargoForwarder Global, in an interview with Leisure Cargo management in August 2016, was informed that the Air Berlin share was less than 20% of total sales. This was mainly attributed to the fact that Etihad Airways, a major shareholder, had partially taken over belly sales on North-American long-haul flights. Twenty percent is quite a chunk to lose and efforts will have to be made to recoup this loss.
Zeitfracht is financially solid
The takeover of Leisure Cargo by the Berlin based middle-sized logistics company, Zeitfracht Group, can be a future advantage for Leisure Cargo’s growth.
Zeitfracht, which has a notable logistics and trucking network in Germany and Europe, is also involved in warehousing and consultancy on logistics investment issues. They are seen as being a financially solid company who surely has spare cash to invest in companies they acquire. Zeitfracht Group has more than 800 staff and a fleet of over 320 trucks.
Will their truck fleet become an important part of Leisure Cargo’s air cargo sales in the future?
Leisure Cargo M.D. gives CargoForwarder Global his comments
In a telephone conversation last Thursday, Thilo Schaefer, co-Managing Director of Leisure Cargo informed CargoForwarder Global he is relieved that the uncertainty over the future of his company is finally over and welcomes the Zeitfracht as the new owner. He stated further that the contract which was signed on 25 October, will result in a final closing of the deal within the coming four weeks.
When questioned on the loss of the Air Berlin cargo revenues, Mr Schaefer said that plans are there to recoup this revenue, but also informed us that due to the gradual rundown of Air Berlin’s long-haul services during the past months, that the AB share was only around 10% at the end of the day. Leisure Cargo is striving to achieve a so called “re-capture quota” of 20% in the near future of the business lost. This Schaefer says will be partly from new carriers and expanded sales at gateways presently served by Leisure Cargo.
Leisure Cargo remains as an independent company within the Zeitfracht Group and the present management and personnel are to be taken over completely.
Air Berlin Technical - is it still an open issue?
The future of the technical side of Air Berlin remains somewhat confusing with reports in the German press at the end of last week that Zeitfracht along with Cologne-based Nayak Aircraft Service will take over Air Berlin’s technical set-up. Air Berlin sources were quoted as saying that the contract would be signed by the end of the week. It is maybe a question of whether it is still interesting for Zeitfracht along with Nayak, which was founded in 1974 and offers aircraft maintenance services in various European countries, to acquire Air Berlin Technik if they don’t get maintenance contracts for at least part of the 61 Air Berlin jets which are going to Lufthansa. It is said that Lufthansa has ample maintenance capacity of their own to take care of new aircraft arrivals.
Own freighter fleet expected
The German press also stated that Zeitfracht takes over Cologne-based WDL-Aviation including their 95 staff. WDL operates four regional jets which are capable of carrying up to ten tons of cargo. This might be the starting point of an own freighter fleet operated by Zeitfracht for transporting express products, complementing their road feeder services.
CargoForwarder Global was informed by reliable sources within the aviation industry that Zeitfracht has appointed a DPD manager to take up the reins and run their future air cargo portfolio.
We’ll all know more in the next weeks!
John Mc Donagh