… says Athanasios Titonis, Managing Director Cologne-Bonn Airport. The parcel business plays a paramount role, contributing roughly 98 percent to the total cargo volume handled there.
CFG: What’s your position on involving CGN in developing e-commerce traffic further, your bread-and-butter business together with passenger traffic?
AT: The buoyant global economy is fuel for the industry and – hand in hand with this - also the cargo business. This applies in particular to e-commerce, which according to all indicators will continue its double-digit growth rate in times ahead. As a matter of fact, Cologne/Bonn Airport benefited from this trend considerably since we are a hub for express freight, chosen by integrators such as UPS, FedEx and DHL as gateway. This puts CGN in an extremely strong position in a market that is extremely competitive. To grow this segment constantly, we are in permanent talks with the integrators to leverage the e-commerce potential even further. This worked out well so far, proven by the record result of 840,000 tons handled at our airport in 2017, up 7 percent to the previous year.
CFG: Lufthansa’s low cost subsidiary Eurowings increased their number of intercontinental flights from / to CGN lately. Does this traffic have a relevant effect on freight flows via CGN?
AT: As of today, belly-hold freight is still a segment that needs to be improved, as seen by the throughput of 5,500 tons. We still see considerable business potential for growth in the future.
CFG: One hears that CGN is not so interested in handling general cargo but concentrates on express shipments instead. What’s your position on that?
AT: This assumption is inaccurate since we do our utmost to provide optimal support to airlines, sales agents and forwarders alike, wherever possible, to drive this segment forward. The traffic results are evidencing this, and since last year 31,000 tons of standard freight were flown via Cologne/Bonn. This is a remarkable increase of 25% compared to the previous year. In 2015, we transferred the handling of general cargo to an external service provider. In addition to the paramount role of express freight, standard shipments will remain a key pillar of our cargo business.
CFG: Are there any plans in your drawer to expand your cargo handling facilities, not just for integrators?
AT: Not really, because all existing freight facilities are optimally utilized. Therefore, we don’t have any expansion plans for the time being. Should additional needs arise, we will of course respond to market demands
CFG: Which growth and tonnage are you anticipating for 2018?
AT: According to forecasts, air freight and particularly e-commerce volumes will continue to grow in 2018, provided the economic circumstances remain as they are. This will be of benefit for us, although at this stage it would be premature to mention any precise growth figures.
Interview: Heiner Siegmund