The urgent needs created by the Covid-19 crisis have led to an impressive surge in the volumes of Paris-Vatry over the last four months. For the post-crisis era, Vatry has an e-commerce venture on the horizon.
Since 30MAR20, Vatry, located near Châlons-en-Champagne, and better known globally for its tasty sparkling wine, has noted an impressive growth of charter freighter traffic. This surge is
causally linked with the import of masks as well as other protective material from China, says Communication Manager, Romain Maillet.
“On average, Paris-Vatry welcomes two aircraft per day. These are often widebodies like the AN225 - the largest cargo aircraft in the world, the AN124, B747F, and A330, but also medium-sized aircraft (B767F, A300, B757F), and even the smaller ones like the BAe-146 and ATR-72.”
According to Mr Maillet, these aircraft are operated by well-known capacity providers such as Volga-Dnepr, SilkWay West, Antonov Airlines, AirBridgeCargo, Cargolux, or MNG, but also by lesser known carriers like EROFEY, Jota Aviation, or Ikar. On the forwarders’ side, players like Geodis, Gefco, B&B International, Ziegler, EAS/NV Log, Clasquin, and Ceva round off the picture.
Mriya sets world record
“Some of these operators have come to Vatry for the first time,” says Mr Maillet, “and that goes as well for passenger operators like Russian Pegas Fly and Air Belgium, which are using their aircraft for cargo transport.”
A day to remember was 19APR20, when the AN225 ‘Mriya’ landed some 150 tons of masks and sanitary material at Vatry, ordered by a private company. This aircraft has set the world record in terms of volume transported on a single cargo flight: more than 1,000 m³.
Before the onset of the crisis, Paris-Vatry could already look back on a particularly pleasing first quarter of 2,500 tons, about 87% of the total volume handled in 2019. Together with the 1,760 tons processed in April, the total tonnage of Paris-Vatry over the first four months of the year represents a growth of 439% over the same period in 2019, even surpassing last year’s total tonnage.
According to Mr Maillet this trend seems to continue in May and could most probably last through June. “The airport stays mobilized to meet the specific needs for medical urgency, while at the same time handling its traditional operations: export of live animals for breeding to China and Russia, the export of pharmaceuticals, automotives, and the import and export of material for the French army.”
CFG: Twenty years after its inauguration, Vatry has still not reached its initial ambition of 120,000 tons per year. How were you able to survive in such a
highly competitive environment as the air cargo industry, with Paris-CDG, Luxembourg, Brussels, and Liege in your backyard?
RM: “The 120,000 tons you refer to, do not correspond with a fixed objective, but to the capacity of our infrastructure. Over the years, our airport has developed a whole range of activities: commercial passenger flights, training, etc. As for cargo, we focus on specific markets, responding to specific needs that Vatry can deliver easily, but which are more difficult to operate on saturated hubs.”
“The airport can boast a number of trump cards: 24h/365d operation, no noise nuisance taxation, no slot restrictions. Paris-Vatry has specialized in charter flights for oversized cargo, specific consignments (explosive or radioactive), live animals, temperature-controlled freight, and military freight. Other trump cards are our ability to react swiftly, while adjusting our material, to any sort of operation requiring time, space or the response to certain constraints.”
“In 2017, a study led by Air Charter Service (ACS) among its clients and partners, classified our airport as the most efficient in the world, at the same level as Luxembourg. We are not just a handling platform, but a business facilitator connecting all the links in the supply chain.”
E-commerce project launched
Does Paris-Vatry enjoy subsidies from the French or the regional government?
“We enjoy subsidies from local authorities” [The airport was taken over by the Département de la Marne in 2016, ms]
The European Commission has decided to end the official subsidizing of regional airports from 2024. What will you do after that?
“Our objective is to achieve profitability. Therefore, we are working on the development of air cargo in different markets, as the ones I mentioned earlier. At the end of this year, we will have a new maintenance hangar for A320, B37, etc. at our disposal.”
“We are also working on the CEIV Pharma certification. For our temperature-controlled business, we have a terminal of 4,200 m², in the immediate vicinity of the aircraft, guaranteeing the shortest possible handling time.”
“The handling of e-commerce from China is another road of development launched before the crisis. The airport is in close collaboration with the French-Chinese company, FTL-Express, to set up a regular service.”
The collaboration agreement between Paris-Vatry and FTL Express was signed on 14JAN20. FTL Express, based in Paris, specializes in customs clearance and forwarding services in the international e-commerce logistics. The company also has an office in Hangzhou, Province of Zhejiang.
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