Lately, the number of truckers or forwarders queueing up in front of warehouses at Frankfurt’s Cargo City South has grown to an impressive length. Not an uncommon picture since it resembles the situation during the fall of 2017. In those days, huge amounts of air freight needing to be processed, piled up at FRA. The sheer quantity took operations to the limit for several weeks. Today, shipments are heaping up again, leading to substantial time losses, but the causes are very different to the 2017 collapse.
Importers are queueing up at Frankfurt Cargo warehouses waiting for getting their consignments released - source: CFG
This difference is emphasized by the forwarding association SLV which, none the less, rings the alarm bell, provoked by the mounting delays in cargo, whether in throughput, acceptance or shipment
release. In a letter to its members, the organization is fair enough to acknowledge that the current hiccups at FRA’s CargoCity South are of different nature compared to 3.5 years before when
cargo throughput came to a near standstill.
Whereas in 2017, the core staff of local handling agents had to instantly master an unexpected avalanche in tonnage, now it is the small-scale, extremely labor-intensive nature of the shipments that is causing the biggest problems. For example, Frankfurt Cargo Services (FCS) handled 314,000 import items between 20-26APR20. A week before it was 149,100 pieces; so this is an increase of 110% in pieces with a tonnage growth of 30%. “We must assume that this freight structure will continue,” states the SLV.
In contrast to larger or more voluminous items, the handling of small packages requires a lot of manual work which increases the time needed by the ground staff to get the job done properly. Due to the large quantities of Covid-10 determined imports arriving at FRA, the storage capacities of the local freight handlers are currently running at full capacity. This is confirmed by operator Fraport: “Particularly the utilization of passenger seats in the cabins of aircraft filled with small packages or boxes leads to new challenges. Hand and bulk loading is time and labor consuming,” reads a statement aired last Friday.
Need a handler!
The problems are exacerbated by the many charter flights landing at Rhine-Main. “I’ve spotted airlines these days that I even didn’t know existed,” said an official of airport operator Fraport. Hence, more and more passenger-to-freighter aircraft are suddenly arriving with their passenger cabins jammed with packages. “Our members have reported several cases where such airlines did not even know which local handling agent would take care of their freight after arrival,” Managing Director Thorsten Hoelser of SLV wonders, and refers to it as a “completely uncommon, baffling experience.”
Amateurs flock to the CargoCity
The situation is aggravated by the masses of people queuing up at warehouses to collect their cargo, preserving the stipulated distance of 2 meters from each other while lining up. A substantial number of these individuals have no experience in logistics and air freight, which further slows down processes. They are sent by importers or medical firms to pick-up long-awaited consignments, but are completely unfamiliar with customs issues, documentation and proceedings common at airports. “These external people cause – although unwillingly – a substantial additional burden on ground handling,” the forwarding association regrets in the letter to its members.
This is likely to continue for some time, as there is no sign of any relaxation.
In an “urgent request”, operator Fraport asks forwarders, truckers, and the entire cargo industry for close cooperation on the grounds that freight traffic and volumes have reached extremely high levels these days. A timely pick up of freight must be ensured to keep the flows running as best as possible, including weekends and holidays, reads their appeal. It ends with the promise that “Air Cargo Handling agents are on duty and in service 24/7 - for you!”
Dakosy announces new app for DG shipments
Aside from the current hardships, there is also good news for Fraport: Software company, Dakosy, and Fraport AG have jointly developed an app supporting users in handling and processing dangerous goods declarations. The app called INFr8, will speed up processes and make them more transparent and safer. Thanks to the new DG app, “we make networking and transparency along the entire process chain even easier and more targeted. Users want to be informed proactively and, above all, at the right time if there are inconsistencies in the documentation. We can meet this requirement perfectly with the mobile solution for INFr8," Anne Ebeling, project manager for INFr8 at Hamburg, Germany-based DAKOSY explains.
The app will be available for Android and iOS devices and will be activated in the middle of the second quarter.
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