For years, Vienna (VIE) has claimed to be the leading airport for air freight in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. And airport representatives did so once again at its recent
(yet first ever) Air Cargo Day. Measured by volumes handled, this is true. However, neighboring Budapest Airport (BUD) is fast approaching VIE’s levels with every passing year, based on higher
annual throughput being reported since 2016.
Despite this trend, Vienna is confident to cement or even expand its position as leading air freight hub in Central and Eastern Europe, and stay ahead of its closest geographical rival. The main arguments supporting this assumption are the many funds pumped into new cargo facilities, a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, convenient road access, and the erection of the Vienna Airport City, encompassing conference centers and office buildings to accommodate logistics companies.
Green topics play a major role
All this was the focus of the very first Vienna Cargo Day, held on 09OCT23. It took place in the run-up to ‘FlyPharma Europe 2023’. The events attracted 400 international air freight representatives to exchange information, discuss the latest industry news and the growing importance of topics such as sustainability, digitalization or hydrogen and the forthcoming H2 utilization to power ground vehicles at airports, for example, to reduce the CO2 footprint. By the way, Vienna Airport boasts the largest photovoltaic system ever installed at any European airport, which provides much of the daily energy needed.
The show was opened by TIACA Chair, Steven Polmans, who emphasized the important role of such events as they help to better the reputation of the industry by demonstrating its importance for producers and consumers alike, including its focus on pressing environmental issues. Part of the program was a visit to the state-of-the-art pharmaceutical handling facilities to give attendees direct personal impressions.
In one respect, however, the event remained rather provincial: though leading international air freight media were notified, Vienna Airport’s top management decided to focus on only privileging the local press. A stance deplored by Peter Reulbach, Vienna’s Senior Manager Cargo Business Development und Cargo Community. At the recent Air Cargo Days jointly organized and run by Vienna rival BUD Cargo and World of Freight (WOF) in Budapest, it was a different (media) picture.
Yet, back to Vienna: According to airport officials, VIE’s geographical position is unmatched, putting the airport almost automatically in the position of a natural cargo hub for Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. It is well connected to the Asian markets but still lacks sufficient air services to North and South America. “This issue stands high on our to-do-list,” said an official.
Air freight in Vienna is also supported by passenger traffic. The Austrian capital, which offers visitors a wealth of historic and novel attractions, has always been a magnet for travelers. Many of them arrive by air, this way increasing belly hold capacity for air freight consignments.
In comparison, Budapest does not need to hide itself away. The Hungarian capital also offers many cultural and architectural attractions, thus attracting visitors from all over the world. And as far as the airport is concerned, thanks to the construction of BUD Cargo City, the site offers its cargo customers very convenient conditions for the handling and throughput of their shipments. On top of all that, BUD Cargo is currently being further expanded with additional parking spaces for freighters and the expansion of warehouses.
In 250-km distant Vienna, sustainable practices and innovative technologies in real estate development have made the Airport City one of the largest and prominent locations in the Austrian building sector based on sustainable criteria. “Vienna AirportCity scores points because it has long been more than just an airport. Just 20 minutes from Vienna's city center, we now offer first-class real estate, offices, and cargo space - embedded in urban infrastructure. The successful cooperation of the cargo community members doing business at the site creates new potential and fine-tunes processes at the location,” emphasizes Wolfgang Scheibenpflug, Senior Vice President Real Estate and Landside Management at Vienna Airport.
Representatives of Lufthansa Cargo, Kuehne+Nagel, DHL Global Forwarding and Swissport Cargo Services Austria, also had their say in the debates. As did some shippers and external cargo experts.
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