2016 was a record year at Danish gateway Billund Airport as it handled 66,500 tonnes, with both imports and exports on the rise and more is set to come.
Vice president of cargo, Jan Ditlevsen (pictured below) says the momentum from 2016 has continued this year. “It was exciting to see if we could continue growth this year and we have. It has been very positive again in the first five months of 2017.”
He says for the period from January to May tonnage is up 8.7 per cent on the same five months last year. “We hope we can reach 70,000 tonnes this year and this is quite realistic. I think the industry is on the up and we are getting a part of it,” Ditlevsen says.
Much of growth has been driven by Turkish Cargo, which added a second Airbus A330 Freighter frequency in November. Ditlevsen says the route is developing week in week out and it is “very satisfied” with services.
At present the Far East is the most buoyant trade lane from Billund Airport and Ditlevsen says the airport’s location in the heart of where Danish industry output takes place.
Exports are manufacturing goods, machinery, industrial goods, electronics and furniture. Imports are generally electronics and textiles.
Express operators like DHL, TNT and UPS also have a substantial footprint at Billund and are growing, while many charter services are also operated, which are both boosting numbers.
Bellyhold traffic is also on the up largely again due to Turkish Airlines, which operates five weekly services, but the airport is hindered in the development of belly tonnage as widebody aircraft operators do not operate at Billund.
Ditlevsen explains 65 per cent of tonnage is from road feeder services (RFS) and it is seeing increasing volumes of RFS every month.
The dream is to attract more freighters and the main target is a Chinese freighter operator. Ditlevsen says: “Our biggest destination is Shanghai and it would be good to have a direct link to China. We are working hard with airlines on the marketing side to see if we can.”
A sector Billund is looking to tap into is e-commerce as the market is on the up in Denmark and Scandinavia too. “The future is e-commerce and we think it will be part of the growth at Billund Airport and it is a big segment and there will be strong growth in the sector. The sky is the limit for e-commerce,” Ditlevsen explains.
Billund has 18,000 square metres of cargo infrastructure and will find more space for e-commerce firms if there is an opportunity.
Another sector targeted is pharma and he is sure it will add to its 800 square metres of cool chain storage space: “We expect to make space for pharma in the future and hope this will happen in 2018. It is a must for the future.”
He has a clear strategy for the future. Ditlevsen believes it needs to focus on reducing the time cargo is on the ground. “One of our goals is to be very fast with short deadline/turnaround times for cargo and have express cargo handling times.
“We do not have wait for days to get our freighters in and out and one of the key points customers will look for is speed.”