60 Seconds with Frankfurt Airport’s senior vice president of cargo, Dirk Schusdziara
Justin Burns, ACW: How has business been so far in 2016?
Schusdziara: In the first half of 2016, cargo volumes grew 0.7 per cent to 1.05 million tonnes. While the worldwide cargo market started slow into 2016, we saw signs of recovery at FRA in the second quarter of the year. German exports are picking up again and the Far East is finally doing better. Freight volumes on routes to/from China and India even recorded dynamic double-digit growth. Our airmail figures grew by 6.2 per cent, representing the highest volume for a first half for seven years.
Justin Burns, ACW: Where are you making investments?
Schusdziara: A top priority for us is the ongoing digitalisation of our processes via our FAIR@Link cargo community system. We actively supported the development of the system from the beginning and will also be involved in its future expansion. Another big project is our Terminal 3, which is being built in the southern part of FRA. When complete, the new terminal will add cargo capacity and improve access to our cargo areas thanks to a new autobahn interchange.Furthermore, we just concluded the tender process for the allocation of new building lots at our 27-hectare development area. Thus, we can soon enter the planning stage for new cargo warehouses in this area.
Justin Burns, ACW: What are your biggest challenges?
Schusdziara: The need to collaborate and the digitalisation of logistics processes will shape the industry in the next years. To stay competitive, we need to adapt to these new opportunities. Furthermore, the dominance of Middle East carriers and the introduction of new aircraft types will certainly have an impact on cargo flows and put some pressure on traditional cargo hubs. With the Boeing B777 and the Airbus A350 finding their way into various airline fleets, this will foster the launch of new airfreight routes, including to remote destinations where freight was trucked in the past.
Justin Burns, ACW: Why is digitisation so important?
Schusdziara: Integrators and sea freight are both increasing their market shares in comparison to traditional airfreight. Only by leveraging digital and largely automated processes, airfreight can gain strength again. Through digitising our processes, we can offer faster processes, as well as greater reliability and improved services. Plus, customers are looking for better transparency of the way their products are shipped. This too can only be reached through digitisation.
Justin Burns, ACW: How are you digitising processes?
Schusdziara: We started pushing forward digitisation at FRA with the launch of FAIR@Link. The system enables the electronic exchange of data between participating companies. It digitally networks the players in the airfreight chain and thus improves the physical processes between them – not just within the CargoCity, but also well beyond its perimeters. FAIR@Link represents one of the most advanced cargo community systems at any airport worldwide.
Justin Burns, ACW: How will FAIR@Link improve efficiency?
Schusdziara: Thanks to FAIR@Link, shipments can be pre-announced in a standardised manner. This means, for example, a handling agent knows exactly when a forwarding company will arrive and with which goods. The agent can thus have staff ready to accept the shipment. As a result, delivery can be processed more quickly and efficiently. By using FAIR@Link, participants can realise significant time-savings and optimise their resources.
Justin Burns, ACW: What response have you had to FAIR@Link from your air cargo community?
Schusdziara: All users have confirmed FAIR@Link helps to decrease various cost factors as a result of shorter waiting and loading times and higher employee productivity. Word gets around and so the number of new customers is steadily growing ever since the platform was officially launched. Also, government agencies are very interested in obtaining an interface to the system. The German Customs’ system is already linked to FAIR@Link and we have just begun to integrate the local EU border checkpoints for plant protection and veterinary examinations as well as the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food.
Justin Burns, ACW: How important is to have a close community?
Schusdziara: It is very important. The air cargo process is very fragmented and characterised by many individual players. We can only increase the overall process efficiency by putting our forces together. To create a framework for close cooperation among all cargo players at FRA, we have founded the Air Cargo Community Frankfurt, dedicated to further optimising the logistics processes and to representing and promoting the interests of air cargo-related companies at FRA.