While the passenger side of things were gearing up for the inauguration ceremony on 31OCT20, the recent step-by-step cargo move from Tegel (TXL) to Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt (BER) already began on 26OCT20 and will continue through to 08NOV20 when Tegel then formally shuts down after the final flight has departed.
Bonne nuit, Tegel (TXL)!
Preparations for the cargo move from TXL to BER started on 26OCT20, with the re-routing of the first scheduled Road Feeder Service routes such as Lufthansa Cargo’s Frankfurt connection, AirFrance/KLM’s Amsterdam, and Cargolux’ Luxembourg connection to the BER Cargo Center instead of the TXL cargo building. Flights are being routed from TXL to BER in a three-step approach from 31OCT20 to 07NOV20, with the final flight into TXL on 08NOV20 being an Air France one – the same airline to be the first to land there back in 1960.
Cargo handling ping-pong
It has been a rough year in Berlin with the airport-based freight companies suddenly being informed mid-MAY20, that they would need to pack up and move from Tegel to the Berlin-Brandenburg Cargo Center by 02JUN20, because Tegel was due to go offline on 15JUN20 instead of the end of the year as originally planned. (CFG reported https://www.cargoforwarder.eu/2020/05/18/tegel-to-vanish-from-the-map/) At the time, the information was confusing, given that the original letter seemed to imply that a subsequent move back again could also happen in the event that “circumstances” would require it. The information caused uproar, and, similar to BER’s actual go-live date, TXL’s go-offline date was also moved more than once.
Working 7 years longer than BER Airport itself
That said, the BER Cargo Center has been operational since AUG13, already, with all of Berlin Schönefeld Airport’s belly cargo being handled there, along with UPS operations which will continue there until MAR21 when it moves to the Express Center. It also houses the Customs, Vet and Plant Inspection offices. Once TXL closes for good, the BER Cargo Center will accommodate the belly freight of the all the flights coming in to BER, as well as all Road Feeder Services.
Integrator freighters handled at the Express Center
In addition to the BER Cargo Center, an Express Center exists in Schönefeld/North, which is where pure freighters are handled: FedEx operates two B73F daily, and UPS has daily B76F and SF3 flights. The Red Cross emergency freighters which currently benefit from the 24/7 Schönefeld flight authorization, but which is not certain if this will continue, are also handled there.
Swissport relocates cargo operations
In addition to its ground handling services, Swissport is also relocating its cargo handling from TXL to BER, aiming to be fully operational there by 09NOV20 and able to handle another annual 18,000 tons. “At Swissport, we are especially looking forward to more space that will enable us to provide our services more efficiently,” Carsten Zuberbier, Managing Director Swissport Berlin, explained. “The new facilities will allow us to write another successful chapter with our partner airlines and to grow with potential new customers both in the areas of airport ground services and air cargo handling.” The new facilities include general and special freight handling, express services and freight forwarding in a 2,100 m² warehouse which is around 60% larger than its previous warehouse in TLX. Advanced dual-view X-ray technology will also improve air cargo handling security processes.
Actively looking to gain cargo shares
BER is actively looking to increase its share of the 100,000-ton cargo potential within a 3-hour radius around Berlin, as well as cash in on its proximity to Poland from a Road Feeder Service point of view. On its website, BER Airport states “More than 50% of all air cargo exports head for Asian destinations. Many of these destinations could be served faster and at lower cost from Berlin. Shorter flight routes in comparison with airports located further to the west in Europe and the distribution of the cargo in Europe by lorry can be offered at a lower cost via Berlin” and points to potentials on long-haul flights as well as integrator businesses.
Business that is much needed. In a recent interview with Der Tagespiegel, Torsten Jüling, Manager Aviation Marketing/Aircargo at Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, admitted that around 34% of BER’s annual 80,000 cargo tonnage had fallen away due to the pandemic. An unusual development, given that cargo in other airports has generally grown over the past months.
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