The handling unit of transport company GEORGI GmbH & Co. KG expects fast growth at Leipzig-Halle Airport, home of logistics heavyweight, DHL Express, and cargo carrier, AeroLogic. GEORGI Handling has rented a 15,000 m² freight terminal there, which will soon be inaugurated. The Leipzig move was mainly triggered by DHL Aviation, a long-time customer of GEORGI, Diana Schoeneich (DS), CEO of GEORGI Handling GmbH & Co KG, tells CargoForwarder Global. We spoke with her about this new project which will bring the company closer to the markets in Eastern Europe.
CFG: Diana, you are responsible for GEORGI’s ground handling unit since SEP22. In addition to Frankfurt, GEORGI will be operating a second large warehouse in a few weeks. Why are you
expanding in Leipzig? Cologne, Munich, Budapest, or Liège are also interesting transshipment centers from an air freight point of view.
DS: Since years already, the trucking segment of our Group of companies, GEORGI Transport, has been providing excellent connections between LEJ and FRA. Receiving the request from our biggest handling customer, DHL Aviation, to also offer dedicated services in LEJ in combination with the service portfolio we are providing to them in FRA, was the finale trigger to establish our own branch there. Once we started, it was good to see that there is more demand from other customers as well. Our current anchor client in LEJ as well as in FRA, is DHL Aviation, but we are already in talks with other highly interested airlines and forwarding companies, and there are also first requests directly from shippers, which we are very happy about.
CFG: Up to now, GEORGI Handling has been renting a floor space of 5,000 m² in LEJ. In contrast, your new facility comprises 15,000 m². Does this indicate that you expect to triple your throughput short term?
DS: Yes, seeing the growth rate of LEJ in the past, which was, of course, mostly driven by the e-commerce sector, we believe that, with extended services for general cargo, there will be increasing opportunities to handle a wider range of cargo commodities; not just e-commerce, but focusing especially on regular charter business, for example. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work to do to strengthen and expand the industrial sector around the airport environment. In other words, to have more and larger consolidation points for forwarders. Only then will the airport finally achieve the same attractiveness as other, bigger airports benefit from.
CFG: In addition to ground handling, GEORGI is best known in Europe for its dense road feeder network. What will your competitors, Wallenborn or Jan de Rijk, for example, say if soon
there are only Georgi trucks lined up in front of your new LEJ facility?
DS: Wallenborn and Jan de Rijk also offer their services within the entire European region, but obviously they have their strongest network in Benelux and the northern territories. Besides being present everywhere in Europe, the Eastern Europe network was always strongly covered by GEORGI, and GEORGI Handling’s handling facility in LEJ is just another step towards further strengthening the service portfolio in this part of Europe. Having an own warehouse operating for GEORGI Transport customers of course brings a unique selling point to the market, which other trucking companies can only offer by choosing subcontracted partners.
CFG: What type of shipments do you primarily handle? In LEJ, e-commerce dominates, while general cargo only plays third or fourth fiddle. Any changes in sight?
DS: Indeed, e-commerce is the dominant commodity; this is why we are currently part of a working group together with LEJ Airport management, to find the right way to bring more business to LEJ without harming the current setup, and at the same time have a very flexible and open environment for all kind of cargo commodities. As LEJ definitely has a lot of advantages for air cargo, we just need to further develop and strengthen these in the long-term. We want to be part of the development and contribute to the success story by bringing in our expertise and clearly stating our point of view in regard to “Do´s and Don´ts”.
CFG: When will the handling facility be officially inaugurated and what turnover figures do you expect for the period until the end of the year?
DS: We have already moved our staff and existing assets to the new building, and handling operations began at the start of March. Additional fixed assets, including truck dock elements, will be installed by the end of March. This enables us to smoothly increase volumes whilst maintaining the highest quality standards for our customers. The new facility allows us to offer all kind of handling services (which is of course our first priority), but also storage, picking & consignment sales, and lastly also supporting services for the e-commerce business. Growing plans are always a sensitive topic. Unfortunately, handling agents have no choice but need to react on market volumes. This is the biggest challenge, and you need to have a good setup with the highest flexibility. space and staff-wise. Therefore, the labor market in the environment of LEJ Airport is another hot topic which we are currently working on together with the local job center, which belongs to the federal authority.
We are targeting 30,000 tons for 2023, and as soon as the move is completely finalized and all processes are in full swing, we will host an official event with customers and partners at the end of May.
CFG: Diana, thank you for your time and explanations.
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