As things stand, a new freight airline, based at Germany’s Leipzig-Halle Airport, will soon take to the skies. It is the first project initiated by Ulrich Ogiermann under his responsibility as Senior VP Operations of newly started CargoLogicManagement (CLM), a UK-based part of the Volga-Dnepr Group aimed at steering the entire group member’s flight activities.
Ulrich Ogiermann is a man of action shown during his tenures at Lufthansa Cargo and Cargolux. But above all, this trait he demonstrated during his assignment at Qatar Airways, whose freight
division he led from 2012 to the end of 2017.
Under his stewardship QR Cargo became the largest carrier worldwide, measured by FTK.
AOC application has been filed
The same energy shown in his previous jobs, he now seems to unfold as head of CLM, evidenced, inter alia, by driving the CargoLogicGermany project consequently forward.
“The CLG application process is in full swing,” confirms Mr Ogiermann to CargoForwarder Global in a one-to-one meet in his office near London Heathrow airport. Adding to this that “we are currently pretty busy, working our way through the demands of German regulator Luftfahrt-Bundesamt,” (LBA).
An inquiry by CargoForwarder Global to the regulator who the majority shareholder of the future freight carrier is and if leading executives of the Volga-Dnepr Group provide the funding, remained unanswered by the authority.
Ogiermann also declined to comment.
Fully compliant with EU rules
The aviation manager does not expect any major obstacles to the application to the LBA, as it is fully compliant with all formal criteria for registering an airline in any EU member state, he stresses.
How long this certification process might last before receiving the requested Air Operator’s License for CargoLogicGermany is out of CLM’s hands, depending on the regulatory framework, he emphasizes.
Ogiermann further points out that CLG will not be part of the Volga-Dnepr Group but become a separate legal German entity.
Leased Boeing 737-400Fs
Providing sufficient funds to get the project off the ground shouldn’t be a problem either, proven by the inception of Volga-Dnepr Group strategic partner CargoLogicAir in the UK. A similar approach is expected in the case of CLG.
Once the AOC is cut and dried, the German newcomer will operate three leased Boeing 737-400 freighters with the aim to further increase the fleet should markets demand additional capacity. All flights will be e-commerce driven, linking Leipzig-Halle with other e-commerce hot spots in central and western Europe.
Mr Ogiermann confirms that the recruiting process for hiring pilots has started. However, it is premature to identify specific routes because “prior to getting any deeper into the commercial side of the project we must hold something tangible in our hands.” Predominantly an AOC!
Cooperation with LH Cargo an option?
Ogiermann, a Lufthansa Cargo manager in his early days in air freight, goes as far as reaching out to the national German carrier, offering LHC to cooperate once CLG is airborne.
Lufthansa Cargo’s reaction to this sounds rather vague, without fundamentally turning down the advance: “So far we are not aware of any requests for talks in this direction. However, due to AeroLogic, a joint venture run together with our partner DHL Express, we are already well positioned at Leipzig hub,” noted a Lufthansa Cargo spokesman when asked by CargoForwarder Global.
The decision in favor of Leipzig-Halle airport as the operational center for CLG is based on various parameters: “Talks with the airport officials, who are very cargo minded, have been extremely encouraging which also goes for discussions held with politicians and officials of Saxony State,” Mr Ogiermann holds. Further to this he mentions the 24/7/365 operating time LEJ offers, a plus point for any freight carrier and seldom found in the German airport landscape.
Another decisive reason for choosing LEJ as the future hub for their German express strategic partner was Volga-Dnepr’s large maintenance facility located there, guaranteeing technical support for the newcomer from day one.
Putting all eggs in one basket is never a good idea
He adds to this that Amsterdam or Frankfurt, which had been considered as potential candidates as well, turned out not to be real options to LEJ. AMS policies have turned, pushing cargo traffic out and favoring passenger flows. Frankfurt in contrast is more cargo minded but mostly congested and performing poorly since ground handling agents tend to mess up too often too many shipments. Another big stumbling block is FRA’s strict night flight ban, reducing operational options severely, particularly for freight carriers. “Cargo is a night animal,” Mr Ogiermann exclaims.
Last candidate standing on his list was Liege, a “very cargo focused airport, that’s benefitting a lot from Amsterdam’s policy of downgrading cargo to play the third or even fourth fiddle.” Volga-Dnepr Group and its scheduled cargo airline AirBridgeCargo – alongside CargoLogicAir - recently signed an MoU with Liege for it to become a regional hub for VDG and CLA freighter operations over the next 3-5 years, with the provision of efficient cargo handling for up to 30 cargo flights per week.
“We are setting up a base for ABC in Liege, with first infrastructural results to be seen in Q3 of 2019,” Ogiermann announces.
By opting for LEJ in Saxony as the future home base for the new express airline it becomes obviously that in his eyes it’s never a smart decision to put all your eggs in only one basket. This rule of thumb seems to be part of his DNA.