Once termed as a secondary airport, Leipzig Halle (LEJ) has step by step moved itself up in the league of the big cargo airports. It’s now not only DHL, which is the airport’s main customer, but also the Volga-Dnepr Group (CargoForwarder Global reported) who announced plans to use Leipzig, along with Belgium’s Liege Airport, as a main distribution hub.
More expansion to follow
There’s plenty of space at LEJ for future expansion, but to cater for this a heavy investment is needed to erect new handling facilities as well as expansion of apron stands for larger freighter aircraft.
The passenger business at Leipzig has long since taken the back seat in favour of air cargo. The airport’s supervisory board are being carried along with the success story and recently approved a major investment which will include a second Cargo City at the airport.
Keeping the lucrative DHL operation away from the normal air cargo traffic may well be a good move as nobody wants DHL to start thinking about moving elsewhere or reducing their operation. At the moment a highly unlikely scenario.
It seems however that the expansion scheme is not just geared towards air cargo handling and distribution. In almost ten years LEJ has moved up from handling 261,000 tons (2009) to just over 1.2 million tons in 2018. The figure for 2019 is expected to be even higher. Admittedly, the lion’s share still comes from the DHL operation which keeps the airport busy at night. Aerologic, the combined Lufthansa / DHL operation, wants to expand further at LEJ and Panattoni Logistics who design and develop logistics parks, have both committed to expansion in Leipzig.
An ideal e-commerce distribution point?
There’s enough space, a 24/7 operation, good motorway connections to the east and west and a local government which has seen the light and is willing to invest in the future infrastructure of the airport.
All of these are ideal arguments for Leipzig to position itself as Germany’s number one e-commerce distribution point. The major airports are overcrowded and mainly lack the space and flexibility needed to cater for future e-commerce flows. The recently announced deal with the Volga-Dnepr Group may well be seen as the first move in this direction.
Leipzig will be getting competition in this area from Budapest Airport who are busy getting their new Cargo City up and running. Although not as large as Leipzig, Budapest is ideally situated for Chinese carriers to position themselves for the eastern European e-commerce market which is starting to gather pace.
Leipzig, Budapest and Liege - all gearing up to cater for the future air cargo handling scene?
John Mc Donagh