As a rule, cooperating is more productive than working alone. This maxim has also been followed by Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) and Cologne-Bonn Airport (CGN), who recently signed a collaboration agreement. We asked Torsten Wefers, Director Cargo at CGN, if this is the start of something bigger: building a network of airports prioritizing cargo and express traffic.
CFG: For market observers, the announced collaboration between CGN and RFD comes as surprise. What are the key reasons in favor of this particular partnership?
TW: Chicago-RFD has been chosen as our North American partner airport because of the various similarities it has to Cologne Bonn Airport. Both airports benefit from fast-developing cargo throughput, are located in very strong catchment areas, and offer tailor-made “freighter-friendly” services to their customers. In addition, both CGN and RFD are home to UPS hub operations and are on their way to becoming major Amazon Air gateways.
The agreement is a catalyst for both airports to further optimize their burgeoning air cargo and express businesses.
Joint goals include attracting additional cargo airlines, alleviating on-ground challenges, and further enhancing the swift movement of products to their final destinations.
CFG: Yet there would have been other possible partnership options such as CGN-IST, a route serviced by your customer MNG Airlines, or CGN-CAI, operated by Egyptair, to name but two.
TW: Based on (local) market input and detailed market analysis, North America has been identified as the number one priority for our first airport cooperation. We already have plans to add further airports and markets which might include the regions you mentioned. More to come soon…
CFG: Your initiative is not really new. For example, Leipzig signed agreements with half a dozen other airports in the past, among them: Johannesburg, Shenzhen, and Osaka. The outcome is rather sobering. Even worse: travel expenses and costs even increased. Why should this be different in the case of CGN-RFD?
TW: For understandable reasons, I cannot comment on past initiatives of other airports and the results achieved. With regard to the CGN-RFD approach, it is driven by overarching goals with clearly defined sales targets and business strategies. We have a regular exchange of information and views including weekly video-calls with Ken Ryan, Director Cargo RFD, and his team, to align the cargo sales activities of both airports.
CFG: Do you expect freight carriers will add RFD-CGN to their international network as a result of your collaboration?
TW: The establishment of direct freighter services between RFD and CGN is one of the primary targets of the new partnership. Both cargo sales teams have already started a joint approach promoting RFD/CGN to the market as a highly attractive alternative to traditional nearby cargo hubs in their vicinities. The first response from both forwarders and cargo airlines has been very positive regarding adding the route on their shortlist. I ask for your understanding that we cannot mention any carrier interested in serving RFD-CGN at this point in time. As soon as there is any news concerning this issue, we’ll let you know right away.
CFG: Thank you for this interview.
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