The freight unit of Rhine-Main Airport reports a throughput of 565,000 tons from 01JAN21-31MAR21, a remarkable plus of 21.6% year-on-year. In addition to the airport's existing customers, newcomers accounted for the unprecedented upturn in volumes. The management’s task now, is to bind these new arrivals to FRA in the long term. An assignment for the Head of Cargo Development, Max Conrady, and Head of Cargo Sales, Roland Weil.
The high volumes are no coincidence, but a result of the interaction of many players offering their services at Rhine-Main, including ground handlers, customs officials, and the availability of slots, says Max Conrady. This wide range of service offers, from which airlines can choose those that fit their needs best, makes the location attractive.
Another advantage FRA enjoys, is its central geographical location in the EU, with proximity to a number of leading industries such as automotive, pharmaceutical, and chemical producers, or firms
engaged in mechanical engineering, to just name the most significant. “Thanks to our favorable location in the heavily industrialized Rhine-Main region, we usually do not have very long lead
times for shipments or onward transports by truck after the consignments have landed at FRA.”
Single or combination of factors?
Whether it is the attractive yield/cost ratio, as FRA’s management points out, that has persuaded newcomers to navigate their freighter aircraft or “preighters” to Rhine-Main, the airport’s favorable geographical location within the EU, or the broad scale of local service providers – which of these factors triggered newcomers to serve FRA still has to be investigated in each individual case. Mr. Conrady believes that it is probably the combination of all these favorable factors that led to the upswing of volumes.
Yet, the tonnage could grow even higher, as demand for transport capacity continues to exceed supply. This will remain the case even after the pandemic has faded out, he reasons. Tourist traffic will begin to take off again, but it will only play a minor role for cargo transport, due to the limited underfloor capacity offered by leisure carriers. That said, Mr. Conrady expects volume growth to continue throughout the year, clearly surpassing 2019’s throughput of 2.1 million tons. This growth will additionally be driven by the positive economic outlook in Europe, which will also benefit the cargo industry.
That will be his prime focus in the coming weeks and months. “We will do our utmost to ensure that those airlines we have welcomed as new customers in recent months, continue flying to Frankfurt on a permanent basis, and do not remain a flash in the pan.” Among them, are Indian carrier Spice Jet, SF Express of China, and Georgian airline, Geo Sky, along with a few others.
Another key task, he stresses, is the acquisition of airlines interested in connecting Africa or Latin America with Europe. These underserved routes would fit in nicely to Fraport’s cargo network. “Both Latin America and Africa are growth regions that offer a lot of potential in the medium and long term.” Potential candidates such as Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways, he and his colleague, Roland Weil, have already spoken with.
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