Cargo flights have increased at Cologne-Bonn Airport lately, with tonnage remaining at pre-crisis operational levels. Given the current period of economic tension such traffic results are more than satisfactory, says the airport.
Last week, as many as 700 freighters operated at CGN, amounting to 50 turnarounds per day – a 13% increase y-o-y. Most movements are attributable to the three big integrators, UPS, FedEx, and DHL serving CGN and their feeding partners, but also to classic freight carriers such as Cargolux. The airline, suffering under the overflow of shipments its traditional ground handling agent Luxair Cargo is hit by, leading to the slowdown of processes, decided to move some of its flight activities to 175 km distant Cologne/Bonn Airport. From CV’s point of view, a smart step enabling the airline to circumvent the current problems at its home base, Luxembourg Findel Airport, and guarantee its customers the timely delivery of items ordered. However, the relocation of flights is time-limited until mid-April yet might be prolonged if the air freight jam at Luxair Cargo’s warehouse continues.
Direct performance impression
For the time being, at any rate, Cologne/Bonn’s management is happy with Cargolux's decision to use its airport to operate daily flights across the big pond to Chicago, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, and San Juan until further notice. "Since we don’t have any curfews at CGN and with only very little passenger traffic right now, there are no slot or capacity problems for cargo carriers such as Cargolux that have decided, more or less spontaneously, to use our airport, and thus getting a direct impression of our performance and flexibility,” Cologne’s Director Sales Cargo, Torsten Wefers, states. “We are currently in contact with other well-known cargo carriers that have approached us considering moving freighter traffic via CGN. Capacity is still available,” he adds.
Under normal circumstances, Cargolux does not use CGN Airport, in contrast to Egyptair Cargo which has just doubled its Cologne/Bonn A330 freighter flights. Similarly, Spanish carrier Swiftair has decided to operate additional charter flights transporting urgently required medical supplies from Cologne/Bonn to those destinations in Spain most in need.
Cargo hubs have a special responsibility, Vanneste
Having said this, interested spectators are offered an almost unprecedented, magnified image of the crucial role airports such as CGN play in keeping supply chains running even in exceptional times such as caused by the outbreak of an Icelandic volcano or the coronavirus pandemic, for example. "As a large cargo hub, we currently have a special responsibility to keep the supply chain running as best as we can,” Johan Vanneste, Chairman of the Board of Airport Cologne/Bonn, emphasizes. The Covid-19 crisis clearly highlights “how important it is that Cologne/Bonn as one of the largest cargo airports in Europe, remains fully operational in these critical times. Our night flight permit is particularly relevant in this context allowing for 24/7 unrestricted cargo traffic," Mr. Vanneste states.
Freight carriers filling lower deck gaps as best they can
Similar classic freight airlines such as MNG, Egyptair Cargo, or Cargolux, or integrators such as DHL Express, UPS, or FedEx also play an exceptional role in reliably delivering urgently needed goods.
Frank Sportolari, Chief of UPS Germany, emphasizes this task: “With our services, we offer an infrastructure that enables trade and the reliable supply of goods. For particularly urgent express shipments and international deliveries, our Air Hub at Cologne Bonn Airport is one of the largest and most important hubs in the world.”
In a nutshell, now it is cargo airlines and integrators that are needed most in compensating the loss of transport capacity in the weeks or even months ahead, to fill the gap as best they can.
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