Third runway a must in Munich

AirBridgeCargo Airlines at Munich Airport
AirBridgeCargo Airlines at Munich Airport

Construction of a third runway at Munich Airport is paramount to achieving cargo growth for the airport and Germany in the years ahead.

The gateway’s director of traffic development for cargo, Markus Heinelt explains to Air Cargo Week future success depends on implementation of the project, which is awaiting approval by the airport’s shareholders.

“Global airfreight volume will grow continuously worldwide. Germany has among the strongest economies in Europe and having an additional runway is only logistically possible at Munich Airport. This points to a strengthening of Munich’s role as passenger and cargo hub,” Heinelt says.

Another runway is crucial in his view for future cargo development and will “guarantee” growth, which he notes is in contrast to other German hubs where expansion is limited.

Heinelt adds: “We place a lot of emphasis on efficiency and reliability and that matches perfectly with a strong cargo market in Southern Germany and the neighbouring regions. Accordingly, we are very optimistic regarding the airport’s further development as a major cargo hub.”

2015 was a record year as cargo tonnage rose 8.9 per cent to 317,000 tonnes at the Bavarian gateway, driven by increases in bellyhold capacities and new freighter services. Thriving sectors were general cargo, express and pharmaceuticals.

Also boosting the hub was how well Munich is being well received and marketed by logistic companies, Heinelt says, but he warns of  the impact of growth: “Our growing traffic presents a challenge for our cargo infrastructures and the respective processes. It is, thus, crucial for Munich Airport to concentrate on optimising efficient processes to guarantee further growth.”

Expansion of cargo infrastructure is on the cards and he says the airport is in negotiations with interested parties for projects with a decision expected this year so work can start soon.

In 2016, Heinelt expects additional capacities for the summer schedule from new long-haul routes like Lufthansa to the USA. The express market has already seen an increase in capacity as DHL has started operating with larger aircraft and introduced a new flight to Ljubljana.

He adds: “We expect more demand in freighter services. From all this, we forecast a further gain in cargo tonnage for 2016.” Munich looks set to move into the top bracket of European cargo hubs, but Heinelt warns: “Competition in aviation can also be driven or influenced by external factors such as possible financial support or bilateral air transportation treaties.”