Last Thursday (19MAY22), ground handling giant, Swissport, officially inaugurated its 8,000 m² air cargo center in Vienna, just a stone's throw away from the Austrian capital’s International Airport. With the opening of the state-of-the-art facility, the agent has massively expanded its footprint in Austria.
The new facility, located 3 km outside the airport fence, is already Swissport's second station in Vienna, following a freight terminal operated on airport. Mainly road feeder freight will be processed or stored in the new building, contrasting the on-airport facility, which concentrates on handling time critical goods such as transits, express, or special consignments arriving by air or flown from VIE.
One of Swissport’s key customers, benefitting immensely from the new cargo terminal, is DHL Global Forwarding, located adjacent to Swissport’s new building. From now on, DHL-GF’s entire air shipments, including road freight, will be handled by its Swiss partner. Swissport cooperates similarly with other forwarding agents, but also some shippers and airlines such as Air France-KLM Cargo, indicates Henning Dieter, Head of Swissport Cargo Services Germany and Austria. “There are hardly any agents left who handle their own shipments. They have transferred that part of the business to external service providers, like us,” he explains. Hence, ground service providers have become an increasingly important link in the global supply chain. “That lays a lot of responsibility on our shoulders. But responsibility and reliability are part of our DNA,” emphasizes Dirk Goovaerts, Swissport’s Global Cargo Chair.
Growing environmental awareness
Both executives also highlight important environmental aspects related to the new building. Once containers or pallets are ready for carriage, the ULDs are driven by electric truck to the airport, to be loaded on board an aircraft. “We are proud to be the first operator of a Mercedes Actros truck registered in Austria!” Henning Dieter exclaims. “This CO2 neutral cargo shuttle saves 32 tons of CO2 emissions per year,” the manager adds. And on that subject, Mayor Thomas Ram of the Fischamend municipality, on whose land the Swissport building has been erected, announced that a photovoltaic system contributing up to 900,000 kWh will be installed on the roof of the warehouse in the coming months: sufficient power to secure continuous operation.
The Vienna terminal will attract new business
Swissport believes that the new cargo terminal will have a magnetic effect on customers throughout Austria and even nearby Slovakia. This assumption is nurtured by logistics company, Sovereign Speed. It utilizes the Swissport terminal to process its own shipments but also as important stepping-stone for further growth in Austria and the neighboring countries in southeast Europe. “Role model is Stuttgart, where we have been running an office within Swissport’s airport facility for some time. This direct cooperation has proven beneficial for both sides,” emphasizes Hendrik Bender. “We hope the same will happen in Vienna,” the VP Group Sales, Business Development and Marketing, at Sovereign Speed, adds.
Cargo plays a leading role for the company
Despite all the market fluctuations, Swissport's cargo business contributes roughly ¼ to the agent’s total sales, and last year it was even around 40%, reaching a record amount of 5.1 million tons, says Dirk Goovaerts. The manager emphasizes that the company has made cargo a strategic priority and set ambitious goals to grow its second largest business line from 5.1 million in 2021 to over 6 million tons over the next couple of years.
Asked about financial figures, he remains tight-lipped, saying Swissport has not publicly disclosed divisional results since 2020. At least he reveals that the cargo division contributed a mid-triple-digit million-euro amount to the group result in 2019. Compared to this pre-Covid base year, there was an increase of about 13% in 2021.
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