Munich celebrates 25th anniversary as leading cargo hub

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As Munich Airport celebrates its 25th anniversary, director traffic development cargo Markus Heinelt says it is “taking-off” as a leading cargo hub.

The present airport, which replaced the old Munich-Riem Airport in May 1992, has grown significantly since opening, with airfreight six times higher than in the year it opened.

Cargo volumes grew 5.4 per cent in 2016 to 334,000 tonnes, or 5.2 per cent to 353,650 tonnes if airmail is included. This has continued in the first quarter, with 7.8 per cent growth to 85,500 tonnes.

New capacity has been added with Lufthansa flights to Tehran and Denver, Delta Air Lines flying to Detroit and Emirates adding a third daily flight to Dubai. Qatar Airways has also switched from Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s to an Airbus A350 and All Nippon Airways now uses a Boeing 787-9.

Heinelt says: “We expect further growth over the current year. Especially with an additional San Francisco route operated by United. ABC might go for expansion in Munich and we hope for more freighter business to the US.”

Munich Airport director traffic development cargo, Markus Heinelt

Exports mainly consist of automotive, chemicals/pharmaceuticals, high-tech and machinery making up 60 per cent of cargo volumes. Imports primarily come from clothing, textiles, pharmaceuticals and high-tech industries.

Heinelt says: “Munich Airport can score with 329 weekly long-haul connections which link major international industry centres and guarantee a fast and direct delivery. Further, Munich offers over 170 continental connections perfect for all express and e-commerce products.”

He expects e-commerce to become increasingly important in Germany in the coming years, commenting: “Germany will continue to play a dominant role in foreign trades. E-commerce tends to develop rapidly especially in the B2C segment due to the fact that Germany builds the largest European consumer market with a population of 81 million.”

Heinelt adds: “Since Munich Airport already has a leading position for the consumer market, the increase in sufficient infrastructure capacities needs to be timely focused.”

Increasing infrastructure includes a third runway, which is awaiting shareholder approval. Heinelt says future cargo growth depends on expansion projects such as the third runway, and while it is waiting for this, Munich is negotiating expanding cargo infrastructure with interested parties.

Efficient infrastructure is something Munich Airport prides itself on, Heinelt explains: “A ramp links the freight handling facilities of the forwarders with the airline’s cargo facilities located right next to the apron. Export and import processes turn out fast and highly efficient. The infrastructure is tailored to the logistic companies’ and airlines’ needs.”

He says freight terminals for airlines, handling and logistics companies are directly linked, practically eliminating overlapping flows of trucked freight.

Heinelt adds: “This saves time and costs for our clients and makes Munich Airport one of the world’s fastest and most attractive hub airports.”

Talking to customers remains essential, with Heinelt explaining: “Our key account management cargo is also in permanent bilateral talks with the management of the top cargo airlines and forwarding agents in order to retain and provide customised solutions.”

There are other projects underway, Heinelt says: “We are going to provide a new web-based cargo service tool, so called “e-learning cargo”. That will be a dedicated proactive information system for the Munich Airport cargo community.”

Munich Airport has grown significantly since opening in 1992, with take-offs and landings doubling to about 400,000 a year, and 8.5 million have been handled in 25 years.

Heinelt comments: “The once mainly regional airport has risen to take its place alongside Europe’s leading air transportation hubs and for the future, all of the indicators point to continuing growth. With respect to being a leading cargo hub Munich has just started to take-off.”