The logistics company, offering a wide range of road, ocean, air, and rail services, has just opened an office at Duesseldorf Airport, staffed with four air cargo experts. Bernd Thewissen, the new station’s head of air freight, reports full order books immediately after the DUS branch started into the business. In this interview, he reveals the reasons for the excellent order situation, which stands out, positively, from the dire business conditions the cargo sector is currently plagued by.
Mr Thewissen, isn’t it very risky to set up an air freight subsidiary in times of coronavirus and flat markets?
B.T.: Honestly: yes! The Corona hype is influencing our daily life since several weeks meanwhile. However, the launch of a new office is not a short-term issue. So, you can't reset everything to zero just because a virus breaks out.
Please don’t get me wrong, I understand the fear of people, but this panic is short-term. In logistics and air freight, we have to look beyond corona, leaving old paths behind, developing new solutions and optimizing supply chains even further. That’s the name of the game, with or without a virus!
Why did you choose Duesseldorf Airport to establish your office instead of offering your services at big Rhine-Main Airport, central Europe’s largest cargo hub?
For several reasons: Since a long time, GRIESHABER Logistik GmbH believes that, besides their core market in the southern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, being present at the highly industrialized North Rhine-Westphalian region is key to growing the business. Secondly, my staff and I live here and have access to established networks. Basically, however, the location is of secondary importance if internet access and the use of modern technology are guaranteed, enabling business to drive ahead, no matter where your office is. Therefore, Duesseldorf is a perfect fit for us but not a must.
The cargo industry, be it forwarders, handling agents, or airlines, complains about contracting markets and sharply declining volumes. In contrast, you claim to enjoy a massive flood of orders despite the fact that the Duesseldorf office only exists since March 1, 2020. How come that your business, unlike the industry in general, is doing so well right from the start?
If you always complain, you risk going bankrupt. GRIESHABER Logistik is engaged in air freight for quite some time. And cargo is a people’s business. Our highly experienced DUS staff knows the local market players, their specific service expectations and operational processes. In short: based on this market knowledge we are able to find optimal transport solutions tailored to the requirements of each customer in close cooperation with them. We are extremely close to the shippers.
The corona pandemic tore many intercontinental supply chains apart or even brought them to a complete standstill, causing the overflow of warehouses in China, Europe or North America. Do you expect the air freight industry to face an El Dorado situation once the worst is over, enjoying a fast upswing?
Not necessarily. Fact is that all cargo actors are hit by declining volumes caused by the pandemic. Meanwhile, production in China is slowly picking up again with warehouses being refilled with shipments. Currently, the biggest challenge for forwarders is to identify supply chains securing the transport of urgently needed goods. This requires an enormous effort as many passenger and freighter services have been cancelled or are thinned out, but it pays off for all parties involved if successful.
Are you a full-service provider, offering the market the entire product range in air freight, or does your Duesseldorf station concentrate on special products such as temp controlled goods, valuables, courier services, or charter options?
We offer whatever service and support are needed by our customers. This ranges from import and export of general cargo, the handling of dangerous goods, and includes temperature sensitive shipments. In general cargo, we are experts in managing heavy loads, such as 10, 20, or 35-ton pieces. These are daily business for us. For outsized or heavy weight cargo, we often arrange charter flights. This spans from hiring small turboprops to the big Antonov 124 freighters, depending on the specific project. Finally, we also offer On-Board Courier services. Our latest OBC shipment consisted of 50 bags weighing 1,100 kilograms in total, traveling from Mexico to Duesseldorf. Particularly for accomplishing heavy shipment missions, we can rely on the expertise of our colleagues in the special cargo department of GRIESHABER Logistik GmbH.
What is your forecast for turnover and tonnage flown until 31 December this year?
Sorry, any figures would be premature since we started our activities in Duesseldorf only at the beginning of March.
Interview: Heiner Siegmund
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