German Airports Enjoy Cargo Boom

There is plenty of news in the aviation media these last weeks about the boom year 2017. This applies to both passenger and cargo figures which in the case of air cargo reached in many areas all time highs.
We take a short look here and how the German airports fared throughout 2017.

Rhine-Main accounts for near to half of the total air cargo passing through German airports last year  -  courtesy LHC
Rhine-Main accounts for near to half of the total air cargo passing through German airports last year - courtesy LHC

Double digit growth all round
The German airports collectively almost reached the 5 million ton mark in 2017. Official air cargo tonnage was recorded as being 4.9 million tonnes. This was almost a good eight percent higher than the previous year.
However, one can not overlook the fact that from the 4.9 million tonnes, almost 85% passed through Frankfurt, Cologne-Bonn and Leipzig. These three, especially Cologne and Leipzig benefited much from the integrator traffic from DHL, UPS and FedEx. Other German airports accounted for the remaining 15% or 16%, whereby in official German statistics smaller airports such as Dortmund, Friedrichshafen, Karlsruhe and the suchlike are listed. Most of these have no real air cargo volume to speak of and therefore that tonnage could be seen as being split over Munich, Hahn, Stuttgart and a couple of others. Here also, Munich would be the dominant player.
Frankfurt, as usual led the pack accounting for 2.23 million tonnes. This represents something near to half of the total air cargo passing through German airports. Leipzig handled almost 1.2 million tonnes - up 8 percent and Cologne-Bonn 840,000 tons - an increase of almost 7 percent.

Smaller airports record good growth
Some of them however cannot be really be termed as small. Smaller in volumes handled, but not necessarily in official airport area. Munich, as mentioned above, would come out on top, having recorded a total of 378,803 tonnes - a 7% rise over 2016. Hahn Airport figures rose high compared to previous years due to the HNA (Suparna) flights which quickly grew after the takeover earlier in the year. It is expected that this trend will continue during 2018, and - the airport has room for expansion on facilities if investments are done.

How did Germany compare to the rest?
Despite good figures for 2017, German airports with their almost 8 percent lay just under the global 9 percent increase. Surprisingly, the average increase in Europe was overall almost 12 percent. German figures, especially in Frankfurt, could well have been better if they had not faced industrial dispute during the closing months of 2017.


Are handling agents benefitting?
Not really, would be the answer from most handlers. Costs have rocketed, industrial strife in some areas and airlines, despite better yields and bottom lines, not really wanting to tackle the subject (see previous CargoForwarder reports) of “giving a fair price for good service.” Temperature sensitive cargo, hi-value cargo and other commodities require specialised handling procedures and controls. These cost money and well trained manpower. Most of which the air cargo handlers have to supply. If they can’t afford to scour the market for well trained and well paid staff due to continuing lower returns, then airlines should not complain when service aspects don’t meet ends.
Space is becoming a problem at Frankfurt as more carriers push more freight through the airport. This led to the above mentioned disputes and may well force carriers to look for alternative airports in Europe. At least the rumors say that one or two big ones are thinking in this direction. This, and pushing handlers continually down on price, will not be of a long term benefit for German airports. When looking at Frankfurt’s problems and facility drawbacks and the expected continued growth of over 5% per annum; then other airports may be well advised to quickly update their facilities in order to get a larger slice of the cake.

Bright prospects
German logistics companies business boomed in Germany and the rest of the world.
Led by DHL, Kuehne + Nagel (Swiss HQ) and DB Schenker. All three were not only national leaders, but worldwide also.
The outlook for 2018 remains positive - but anything can happen as we have seen this past week as the world’s stock markets started massive corrections on share prices.
A ball which could rebound negatively into the air freight scene seeing how the e-commerce business is moving ahead.

John Mc Donagh

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