Business is rosy at Milan Malpensa Airport and Italy’s principle air cargo gateway goes from strength to strength and growth looks a given.
Malpensa saw a nine per cent uplift in tonnage in both 2014 and 2015, reaching 500,000 tonnes last year and has a 55 per cent market share of Italian air cargo, while in the first quarter of 2016, the positive trend is continuing with an increase of six per cent and April is looking good.
Despite the weak trend of global cargo demand from Asia, the Milan hub says it is seeing rising export flows mainly to Asia and Middle East markets, which represent more than 50 per cent of total volume.
Luxury and fashions (clothes, garments, shoes, cars) are the main products for exports, while semi-finished products are on the rise on the import side from Asia.
The airport says owing to strong performance during the last few years, export flows made up 60 per cent of traffic in 2015, which confirms its status as the gateway for all the ‘top class’ made in Italy products, which are sent to the rest of the world.
Malpensa says: “The investments made during last year by the two cargo handling companies operating to improve their facilities and processes dedicated to pharma products (both have the IATA CEIV pharma certification) make us confident about a considerable growth of this kind of traffic.”
Growth at Malpensa is coming from all segments and freighters, which make up 60 per cent of traffic is growing at a rate of five per cent, while the integrators (FedEx and DHL) are growing by three per cent and make up 10 per cent of volumes. Bellyhold cargo has increased by 10 per cent driven by more widebody capacity by Alitalia, Qatar Airways, Korean Air, and Oman Air.
Integrator cargo is set to rise further as DHL, which has six flights to its hub in Leipzig Halle Airport, four flights to East Midlands Airport in direct connection to the US and two flights to Hong Hong (by Aerologic) will expand operations by investing 90 million euros in a new site covering 46,000 square metres.
The airport says DHL plans on connecting Malpensa with its eight gateways in Italy and a direct flight to US is being considered and the new facility will be operational by the middle of 2018.
FedEx is also building a new warehouse ready for the end of July this year (operational by October) – allowing it to gradually increase cargo volumes and positions it at the centre of its activity for southern Europe and Italy.
These two developments and a third warehouse under construction will give an additional cargo capacity of 500,000 tonnes per year, doubling the current warehouses capacity of 600,000 tonnes.
Malpensa will continue to develop its Cargo City: “In the future, our goal will be the development inside the airport of ‘second line’ warehouses dedicated to freight forwarding companies.
“Due to historical reasons the major part of airfreight forwarders are based in the south east area around Milan (near Linate Airport) during the next three or four years we will be ready to make available some ‘second line’ warehouses inside the airport to push the forwarders to move their bases in Malpensa.
“We believe this move could make the Italian air cargo logistics chain more efficient, helping the airport to increase cargo volumes. We are already in contact with some potential customers and are experiencing a good interest from the market.”
More freighter operators will consolidate operations at Malpensa, the airport says and besides Cargolux Italia, it expects further development from AirBridgeCargo Airlines and Silk Way Italia, while it says Qatar Airways has announced a cargo development plan, according to the “positive ending of the partnership project with Meridiana”.
Cargolux Italia, Malpensa’s main cargo carrier, has added a new service to New York and new flights to Zhengzhou (China) are foreseen late this year or in the beginning 2017 to exploit the potential of Cargolux China’s new hub, while the gateway says other markets like Iran, Turkmenistan and Africa are on the radar.
Despite growth, Malpensa sees challenges ahead: “We need to revert the negative judgements about Italian import procedures, spread among many freight forwarding operators.
“During the last years, Italian Customs has made available many new and more efficient procedures for air cargo imports. For instance, since 2014 it is operating in Malpensa a ‘single window’ procedure allowing to obtain clearance simultaneously with other clearances in a few hours.
“The new European Customs Code (in place from 1 May) will improve the ordinary Customs clearance. A better image about Italian import processes inside the airport will certainly help to boost air cargo flows.”
Equally it sees opportunities for growth through better road feeder service volumes, freighter capacity increases, improved infrastructure and better road connectivity into Malpensa, which all make it a more attractive gateway for air cargo.
The airport says it is also investing in systems and processes: “From 1 July a new ICT system will be available for all the airfreight operators working in Malpensa allowing to share the main data regarding departing and arriving cargo among all interested parties.
“This ‘cargo community system’, named Malpensa Cargo Smart City will add a very useful enhancement to upgrade Malpensa operations to the best European Airports practices. It will make all the processes related to cargo delivery and pick up more efficient avoiding errors and time losses.”