Unrestricted travel within much of the EU will be possible again from 15JUN20 onwards after most member states announced they would be re-opening their borders for Schengen area residents
(26 European states).
This puts pressure on airlines to resume their pre-corona flight itineraries without knowing how passenger demand is likely to develop in the weeks and months ahead. The situation is not only challenging for them but also for airports since capacity planning is difficult, particularly in Berlin, as illustrated here.
Airlines are pleased
The EU’s lifting of the restrictions also encompassing the UK, Switzerland, and Iceland, but excluding Sweden and Spain, was warmly welcomed by airlines who reacted immediately by announcing to scale up their services to/from Berlin again.
As done so by Qatar Airways for instance, which will commence serving Berlin Tegel (TXL) in July, operating Boeing Triple Sevens on the Doha route.
Similarly, Turkish Airlines plans to resume its A330 widebody services between Istanbul and TXL already beginning 15JUN20.
Hainan Airlines announced that it would restart its Tegel–Beijing flights in August, also with A330s.
In contrast, other carriers that operated long-haul TXL routes prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, have postponed their return. Among the hesitant are the big three U.S. operators AA, DL, UA, as well as Scoot from Singapore, and Mongolian airline, MIAT.
As a result of the open (Schengen area) skies, the Berlin Airports operator anticipates strong growth in passenger traffic from 15JUN20, particularly on pan-European routes. That said, its managers took a U-turn by shelving TXL closure plans that were due to take effect mid-June as previously announced, and instead opting to keep Tegel running until Berlin Brandenburg International (BER) goes online on 31OCT20. So it seems that TXL’s last day of (airport) existence will be 08NOV20 unless there is another about-turn in Berlin’s turbulent airport policy characterized by so many turnarounds.
Be it as it may, with air traffic soon picking up again, the operator assures that everything is being done to provide airlines and process partners with the utmost support in getting back to normal business no matter if operating to/from Tegel or 30 km distant Schoenefeld (SXF) which will become part of BER later this year.
Air freight is processed at BER Cargo Center, including TXL loads
Despite Tegel’s life prolongation lasting an additional six months, all Road Feeder Services which are not related to the remaining Tegel flights already start or end at BER’s Cargo Center that will become part of the upcoming BER Airport. Meanwhile, most personnel and cargo ground equipment have moved from TXL to the new freight facility at SXF (future BER), where the goods are handled, processed, customs cleared, and consolidated or deconsolidated. Cold storage, if required, is provided by ground handler Wisag Cargo Service, or optionally by DB Schenker. In contrast, Swissport Cargo Service will remain at Tegel until the airport turns off its lights in November.
Customs offices, facilities for veterinary and phytosanitary inspections have already moved into the facility located southeast of the German capital.
As to the integrators: Since 01JUN20, FedEx and former TNT have merged their handling activities, performed within the SXF Express Center. The U.S. parcel giant offers the market double daily flights to Poland (Mo-Fr), Liege and (via Hanover) to Paris CDG.
Integrators report climbing volumes
FedEx rival UPS is serving Berlin with one of its B767 freighters.
From the beginning of this year until May, volumes transported by integrators grew (+3%) as did tonnage carried on board chartered aircraft serving Berlin (+7% y-o-y) In contrast, volumes flown in the lower deck compartments of passenger aircraft substantially declined (-26%) due to the lack of passenger flights during the Covid-19 crisis. However, as air travel picks up, abundant transport capacity in the lower decks of passenger aircraft will be available again for the cargo industry in Berlin and the broader region. “The lifting of many travel restrictions is a first and highly important step towards the normalization of aviation, equally benefitting passengers and cargo players,” Torsten Jueling, Head of Cargo at Berlin Airports, reasons.
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