In a press conference held last week at Leipzig/Halle Airport, Saxony, CargoLogic Germany’s home base, the newcomer’s management provided an overview of the carrier’s growth strategy, its market ambitions, and their fleet policy. The most surprising message: “There is a lack of suitable capacity providers. That’s why we are here!”
This statement was delivered by outgoing Managing Director Ulrich Ogiermann in his introductory remarks.
The reason for his testimony: there are only very little dedicated cargo carriers operating in Europe, specialized on servicing the rapidly growing e-commerce sector, ensuring fast, reliable and efficient intra-European distribution of online purchased goods by air. This segment continues its growth trajectory seen by an increase of 5.5 percent in Germany and central Europe since January 2019, thus outperforming general cargo that reached a meager 1.8 percent.
Mr Ogiermann and his successor Johannes Jaehn, a former leading executive of Leipzig/Halle Airport emphasized that CLG is just a niche player, concentrating entirely on flying express items. “In a market analysis we have identified an existing gap in the distribution of e-Commerce by air. This excludes competing with the big boys in the European aviation landscape whose business models are entirely different,” Mr Jaehn reasoned.
Actually, CLG owner Alexey Isaikin should have elaborated on this aspect, but despite prior notice, he did not show up.
Meanwhile, a number of “well-known freight forwarders” have signed transport contracts with CLG with some of the deals lasting beyond the peak season and extending into the next year, both executives confirmed. However, which suppliers these are the managers did not reveal. This became a bit more transparent shortly after, when informal sources told CargoForwarder Global that DHL Express is standing on CLG’s list of partners as does DB Schenker, among others.
Fast growth of fleet announced
Concerning the fleet, manager Jaehn said that operations will commence with three leased Boeing 737-400 P2F aircraft. The date of the launching (of the first) commercial flight is still undecided but will happen very soon, he confirmed. He left open if it will be a linehaul flight or a charter mission. CLG intends to offer the market both options since there is always some market demand for ad hoc flights.
Jaehn confirmed that the fleet will comprise of six units until the end of next year. “Achieving this critical mass is a precondition to earn money,” he said. Depending on demand development, CLG intends to grow the fleet step by step to at least ten B737-400 P2Fs from 2021 on. “Our main target is, however, to perform well right from the start to build up a reputation of fine quality.”
This passenger to freighter converted Boeing variant, capable of flying 3,000 kilometers nonstop, can accommodate 11 containers on its main deck and uplift as much as 20.8 tons per flight.
Saxon’s politicians are backing the project
In his last press appearance as CLG helmsman, Mr Ogiermann emphasized that LEJ Airport was chosen as home base for CLG because the location is right at the crossroads of European trade lanes and located in a dynamic region offering airlines and the entire cargo industry an infrastructure that is second to none. Helpful was also, he emphasized that the local Saxonian politicians supported the airline project right from day one.
Looking back in retrospect, Ogiermann’s successor Johannes Jaehn, who took the CLG helm in mid-September, acknowledged resistance in obtaining the Air Operator’s Certificate from “interested circles.” Asked by CargoForwarder Global who these “circles” were, he said he didn’t want to wash dirty linen but look ahead instead.
Second cargo city to come
This matches the philosophy of the Saxonian government, LEJ’s majority stakeholder (77.9%). The politicians in close coordination with the operator Mitteldeutsche Flughafen AG (Leipzig/Halle + Dresden) cleared the way for building a second cargo city in the northern part of LEJ, invest in new aprons and set up numerous logistics and office buildings. All in all, the spent amounts of an estimated 500 million euros and shall be borne by the operator.
At Leipzig/Halle, 1.22 million tons of air freight were handled in 2018, with DHL Express accounting for the vast majority. This makes LEJ the second largest cargo airport in Germany after Frankfurt.