Cologne Bonn Airport has named Andrea Tony Geslao (47) as its Head of Cargo Sales, following the positive impact of cargo during the pandemic. The press release refers to it as “an important stabilizer” and reveals that 986,000 tons of cargo were handled there in 2021. This is a 14% increase on previous year and a new annual record, according to Managing Director, Torsten Schrank. It aims to surpass the million tons this year. All the more reason for the nomination of Geslao, who “wants to drive forward the positive development of cargo traffic at the airport,” as the manager confirms here in his first and exclusive CargoForwarder Global (CFG) interview following his nomination.
Andrea Tony Geslao (ATG) has been with Cologne Bonn Airport since 01APR18, having started as Senior Manager Business Development Cargo, before moving to become Head of Airline Marketing in MAY21. As Head of Cargo Sales, he reports directly to Tobias Lyssy, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
CFG: Mr. Geslao, Congratulations on your new role and responsibility. You have been working for CGN Airport for quite some time, so you are familiar with most processes. Where do you see
a need for action in the cargo business?
ATG: The success of an airport’s cargo ecosystem usually relies on the smooth interaction of stakeholders operating together – including (but not limited to) shippers, freight forwarders, ground handlers, truckers, customs, airlines, integrators, regulators and, for sure, airports. However, the cargo ecosystem is only as strong as its weakest stakeholder.
At CGN, we have a dedicated sales and customer service unit that is facilitating the local cargo ecosystem from one source and ensuring that the planned cargo developments materialize. Nevertheless, the CGN cargo ecosystem is still facing lack of relevant and accurate information, which has resulted in inefficient processes and other 'hidden costs' such as excessive inventories. Therefore, our aim is to share more information within the cargo ecosystem, in order to optimize these processes and reduce cost. Consequently, a fast and reliable cargo community system becomes increasingly indispensable for CGN.
So, CGN’s plan is to invest in such a cargo community system in the near future.
CFG: Air cargo was a flagship for CGN during the pandemic. What is the current situation with general cargo, i.e. excluding the business of the integrators UPS, FedEx, and DHL, which are strongly represented in CGN.
ATG: Indeed UPS, FedEx, and DHL, and not to forget Amazon, are strongly represented at CGN. As of today, Express Cargo makes up 95 % of the total cargo business. The majority of shipments at our airport is currently related to express cargo as well as to the worldwide growing cross-border e-commerce business.
In addition, we are also able to accommodate all other types of general and special cargo, including perishables, pharma, animals, as well as dangerous, valuable, heavy or outsized goods. This is why CGN serves as a crucial gateway for general cargo airlines such as Cargojet Airways, Coyne Airways, Egyptair Cargo, MNG Airlines, Swiftair, and many more. Likewise, in the ad-hoc charter business, we are experiencing more and more incoming and outgoing flights from many well-known aircraft operators.
CGN airport sees big market potential to further develop its general cargo activities, as it operates 24 hours a day and is ideally located in the heart of Northwest Europe with excellent road connections.
Apart from that, more and more airports in the catchment area of CGN are suffering from capacity restraints (e.g. official authorities who recently imposed flight movements caps).
As a consequence, many well-known aircraft operators are actively considering shifting their operations to CGN.
Also, thanks to the new cargo handling partnership with dnata, we are supporting each other in attracting additional general cargo airlines. Together, we have established a joint sales strategy and exchange platform on management level with weekly calls and close communication.
CFG: What is your forecast for the full year 2022, including contributions by integrators
ATG: Air Cargo at CGN, remained on a high plateau level in 2022, despite facing the risk of high inflation across the world. For 2022, we are expecting the same annual throughput as in 2021, with a slight decrease in movements.
CFG: Do you expect to welcome new cargo airlines in the coming months?
ATG: In general, every cargo airport is striving for growth in air freight tonnages and freighter movements. At CGN Airport, however, we do not want to outpace this development and always try to ensure reliable and smooth operations first.
Nevertheless, CGN is currently dealing with various opportunities, however for tactical reasons we are not announcing what they are until further notice.
CFG: From Cologne’s perspective, is there any market that is underserved due to missing (cargo) flight connections?
ATG: From our perspective, currently the South and Latin American market is underserved, due to missing cargo flights connections.
Also, the Southeast Asian market is a promising market, especially because the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recently signed a comprehensive air transport agreement that will open up more air transport opportunities and enhance direct connectivity between the two regions, while upgrading rules and standards for concerned flights (e.g. traffic rights)
CFG: dnata is taking over the Cologne Bonn Air Cargo Center from Wisskirchen. What do you expect from this change of ownership for the performance of the ground handling of air freight in CGN?
ATG: CGN and its stakeholders are delighted to welcome dnata, a renowned global player in the field of airport services. The commitment of dnata will help to further increase the efficiency in cargo handling.
We definitely expect an improvement of performance of all involved stakeholders, by alleviating on-ground challenges and impacting the movement of cargo quickly within our ecosystem.
CFG: Andrea Tony Geslao, thank you for this interview.
New Operation Control Center
Further to this, the airport announced last week, that it is opening a state-of-the-art, 500 m², Airport Operation Control Center (AOCC), on the fourth floor of Terminal 1, overlooking the apron, cargo area, and runway. Billed as a “control cockpit for airport procedures,” and led by Dr. Patrick Gontar (coming over from his previous position as Head of the Safety Intelligence Department at Deutsche Flugsicherung), the AOCC will be responsible for the central planning, controlling, and monitoring of all processes relating to passenger and cargo flight management, from the moment of arrival at to the end departure from the airport.
Greater stability and efficiency
It will be manned 24/7 by a variety of decision-makers from the various airport departments (eg. traffic management, traffic control, baggage, and ground handling), alongside partners and service providers such as the federal police, security services, handling companies, and cargo operators. The aim is closer collaboration and communication, resulting in greater stability and efficiency all round. “In the future, the AOCC will join up all the different threads. It will lift real-time process control to a new level, making an essential contribution in doing so to the development of the airport,” says Thilo Schmid, President and CEO of Flughafen Köln/Bonn GmbH. “Processes at the airport are multi-layered and highly complex. The new, centralized control cockpit allows direct communication between internal and external partners, flexible planning, and rapid, process-oriented decision-making, even during periods of disruption to normal operations caused, for example, by bad weather.”
Employee training is currently underway, and processes are being established. Control tests will commence in DEC22, and full operation (“initially in parallel with ordinary processes”), will commence in FEB23.
Brigitte Gledhill - text / Heiner Siegmund - interview
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