ACW: How has the pandemic affected operations for Havas Ground Handling?
Mete Erna, Havas Ground Handling, general manager: We have taken control of the negative financial impacts of the pandemic period thanks to the increase in the air cargo traffic and the intense activities in our warehouses.
Furthermore, normalisation in domestic flights as well as the activity in Russian and British markets has reflected on our ground handling operations in a positive way. During the progressive periods of the pandemic, airline companies have tended towards cargo transportation in passenger flights to balance the income loss due to the decreasing passenger traffic.
Hence, a new service type has been included to our operations. As a company that had experienced several crises in the sector for the past 88 years, we have the ability to swiftly adapt to changes.
Therefore, we have adapted to this emerging demand so quickly and continued providing service to our airline customers for their cargo transportation operations in the cabin. We have also re-organised our operational flow in line with the new health and safety standards announced by the international and national aviation authorities due to the pandemic.
ACW: What does the increase in cargo activity look like in numbers?
Erna: In 2019, we handled a total of 860,000 tonnes of cargo together with our subsidiaries. In 2020, although we lost most of the cargo traffic carried on passenger flights, this figure reached approximately 1 million tonnes of cargo with the extra freighter as well as cargo in cabin operations we handled.
Beside the routine freighter traffic, Havaş handled 64 flights operated in “Cargo in cabin concept” at Istanbul Airport. Although the increase in cargo operations remains limited compared to 2019 figures; we consider the existing figures of 2020 as a great achievement under the serious impacts of pandemic on air travel. The figures achieved during these unprecedented times definitely remark the crucial role of air cargo in the global supply chain.
ACW: What does 2021 have in store for Havas?
Erna: Just before the pandemic, our modern station and warehouse facilities constructed at Istanbul Airport became operational to meet long term air cargo demands of our customer airlines, our latest and the most significant investment. We invested in approximately €11 million for our new warehouse, which covers an extensive area of 10,000 sq m and is equipped with the state-of-the-art technologies, at Istanbul Airport.
Moreover, in addition to our warehouses in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir airports in Turkey, we revealed the opening of our new warehouse at Antalya Airport during the early stage of the pandemic period, another significant hub. We expect an increasing trend in air cargo to continue in 2021.
Hence, we will continue our investments in new facilities in order to extend our service network in line with the requirements in air cargo and logistics sectors. Furthermore, we closely follow the cutting-edge technologies in line with our fields of operations, particularly in applying contact-free technologies in our operations.
We will also continue our investments in the related innovations. Havaş also has a mission to increase its existence in geographies other than Turkey together with TAV Airports, its parent company. We are particularly interested to increase our presence in the airports where TAV Airports, our parent company, operates, particularly in Zagreb, Almaty, Tbilisi and Skopje.