It’s not been an easy twelve months for Gerton Hulsman, Managing Director of Duesseldorf Airport Cargo and his team. Despite the setbacks forced upon him with the demise of Air Berlin, he is confident about the future of DUS Cargo, and for some good reasons.
20,000 tons lost overnight
That’s basically what happened when Air Berlin closed up shop on October 16th 2017. The carrier which had a large hub at DUS at that time accounted for almost 20% or around 20,000 tons of air cargo which was yearly handled by the DUS Cargo team.
However, in a recent one-on-one talk with CargoForwarder Global, Gerton Hulsman stressed the point that although the loss hurts, it does not stop DUS Cargo moving forward to recoup and expand even further.
“Actually,“ he says, “2017 was a good year for air cargo at DUS. That is until Air Berlin closed up shop.“ The airline stopped operations well into the fourth quarter of 2017. In 2017 DUS Cargo turned over 122,000 tons of which 80% was flown and 20% trucked cargo. This year Mr Hulsman expects a maximum of 100,000 tons.
Eurowings took over many of the old Air Berlin flights and this has helped somewhat to regain a portion of the AB cargo loss. However, in comparison to Air Berlin, Eurowings does not carry cargo on their inner-European routes and on not all of the intercontinental routes they now operate instead of Air Berlin.
2018 has been a challenging year for the airport and things have not been made easier by Cathay Pacific’s decision to withdraw their four weekly Airbus A350-900 DUS-HKG flights as of mid-October this year. Cargo capacity on the route gave DUS Cargo around 4,000 tons per annum, which has also to be recouped.
Attracting all cargo carriers
The pharmaceutical business potential in the North-Rhein Westphalia (NRW) area is amazing says Mr Hulsman. Moving this time and temperature sensitive cargo by air becomes more interesting for DUS Cargo. Gerton states that: “one has to realise that there are 53 pharma related industries in NRW which produce around 17% of the total German pharmaceutical export cargo. Statistics show that 1.8 million tons of air cargo originate from the NRW area and that much of it is siphoned off through Amsterdam and Frankfurt airports.“
DUS Cargo has been IATA CEIV certified since 2016 and will be re-certified in March 2019. This surely prompts Gerton Hulsman and his team to explore possibilities to attract all-cargo carriers to DUS to cater for the continued growth in exports of pharma products by air. There are airlines he says which are seriously considering increasing their capacity into the NRW’s capital airport.
Because of the above trend DUS Cargo plans to erect a new 1,200 square meter facility to cater for storage, build up and handling of temperature sensitive cargo. This will replace the existing
facility with more state-of-the-art equipment and processes. DUS Cargo has also invested in two Thermo Dollies which can transport temperature sensitive shipments to and from the warehouse and
the aircraft stands.
One has to wonder (CargoForwarder Global opinion) why the cargo handlers are generally left to their own means as far as investment and procurement of equipment for pharma products is concerned. Surely this should be an inter-active development from airports as a whole as well as the airlines. All are benefitting from the boom, but it’s just a few who carry the main cost.
Looking forward to 2019
“I have a good team on board and we have lately hired a new sales & marketing specialist to help promote our services further. Yes, 2018 was not up to original expectations, but our DUS Cargo set-up and the potential on hand drives us forward for 2019 where we will continue to push forward.“ He adds - “we held some very interesting discussions at this year’s TIACA meeting in Toronto, where we are hopeful that these talks will lead to a future Canada to Duesseldorf freight service in the near future.“
John Mc Donagh