This is statistically evidenced by a 4.5% increase in cargo throughput in the first quarter of 2023. The positive Munich (MUC) figure contrasts sharply with the general development of air cargo in Germany. That decreased by 9.7% in the first three months of the year, according to the German Airport Association (ADV). And MUC’s upward trend will continue, predicts CEO, Jost Lammers (JL), in an interview with CargoForwarder Global (CFG).
His estimate is not a very risky forecast, market experts confirm, because all signs in Munich’s cargo cosmos are pointing to further growth.
CFG: What makes you so optimistic, Mr. Lammers?
JL: “There are several factors that make us very confident: Southern Germany is an extremely strong industrial catchment area, so we are practically next door to many shippers and their forwarding agents located in this region. That translates into short supply chains, time savings, and less trucking costs compared to transporting shipments halfway across Europe until they are finally loaded on board of an aircraft. This is neither time-efficient nor environmentally friendly, because trucks pollute the air, particularly when driving long distances.”
CFG: Any additional factors?
JL: “Data shows that we are the fastest airport in Germany for air cargo handling and processing. Long waiting times are therefore unknown to our customers, or at least a rare exception. The encouraging point is that long-haul air traffic is growing very strongly at our airport. For shippers, this means more capacity offerings to key destinations, but also increasingly to remote markets not serviced before.”
That said, the manager is primarily referring to passenger aircraft, offering limited lower deck capacity for cargo carriage. Nevertheless, lately there has been a slight shift towards more main deck coverage. Prior to the pandemic, the belly/main deck ratio stood at 85%/15%. Meanwhile, however, the share of full freighters has slightly increased, leading to a ratio of 76%/24%.
Despite this encouraging growth of full freighter operations, Mr. Lammers admits that MUC can do better. One option is to upscale efforts to sell Munich to cargo carriers as interesting and growing air freight market which is worth serving. The other is enhancing the pull effect by investing in cargo facilities and equipment needed for the fast processing of goods. DHL Express, for example, is currently investing well over 100 million euros in the expansion of its distribution center in Munich, this way increasing its throughput capacity sevenfold. It does not require much fantasy to imagine the impact that this expansion will have on DHL’s operations to and from MUC Airport.
CFG: Back to you, Mr. Lammers. You are also in talks with Lufthansa Cargo about freighter flights?
JL: “In fact, we would welcome it if the Group were to include MUC in its Pan-European short and medium-haul program, operated with A321 freighters, which extends to North Africa, Israel, and Turkey. So far, these aircraft are not serving our airport despite the growing cargo volumes generated here. Against this backdrop it could be attractive for Lufthansa Cargo to add Munich to their A321F route map.”
As another important aspect, the executive mentions the airport's transition from fossil, climate-harming fuels to eco-friendly forms of propulsion. Coping with this major challenge is one of the airport management’s key tasks, spurred also externally by the expectations of the broader public and policymakers. Installing solar panels on the roof of many facilities built on-airport is technically the best and fastest means of stepping out of the fossil age, Mr. Lammers argues.
CFG: You headed Budapest Airport from 2008 to the end of 2019, becoming CEO of Munich Airport on 01JAN20. Seen from a CEO perspective: What are the main distinctions between the two sites?
JL: “Budapest was an important part of my career; I would not want to miss. My team and I were able to push a lot of issues forward there. For instance, the construction of a large cargo center which was inaugurated in November 2019. In Munich, however, everything is a bit bigger: the infrastructure, the air traffic figures, the role of the airport as a hub and its importance for passengers, cargo customers and as an employer for many people working here. However, when it comes to issues such as sustainability or environmental protection, they have more impact in Munich and are of particular concern. Hence, decarbonizing MUC is a key point on our agenda, but also on that of our airline and business partners.”
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