Tough times in France but better results ahead


France has experienced tough times since the global financial crisis five years ago and is still fighting hard to recover with operators such as Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo (AF-KL-MP) maintaining market share and pinning hopes on pharmaceuticals and e-commerce growth.

Despite an increase in passenger numbers, freight traffic across Europe remained largely stagnant in July, according to figures released by airport trade body, Airports Council International Europe in early September.

Last year, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and Paris Orly Airport handled a total of 2.2 million tonnes of cargo, of which 2.1 million came through CDG which benefits from an extensive bellyhold airline network of over 136 airlines with the world’s six largest freight forwarders operating from there.

“We know activity is very much related to the world economy and that of our country,” says Aurélie Skowronski, cargo project manager for Aéroports de Paris, which builds, develops and manages Paris’ three airports.

“The competition is tough also in this field and we are aware we must act to consolidate the hub, invest to strengthen in the quality of service and commit to further simplify procedures.”

Skowronski explains that Aéroports de Paris is working closely with associations representing the interests of cargo operators to strengthen partnerships and improve operations.

“We are working hard to improve cargo ground transfers within the airside area and are pleased leading freight operators have reaffirmed their commitment to Charles de Gaulle airport by strengthening their presence in 2015,” she says.

These include SODEXI, which introduced a new express hub (pictured middle right) this year with a capacity to handle 55,000 tonnes annually, DHL Global Forwarding which inaugurated a new 16,000 square metre secure infrastructure to optimise operational performance in specific industry sectors such as pharmaceuticals, and Bolloré Logistics which introduced 40 ,000 square metres of new buildings.

“These signs of commitment to Aéroports de Paris for cargo in the long term consolidate our deep conviction of the strategic stakes and capacity of growth it represents for our airports,” says Skowronski.

Aéroports de Paris has welcomed three new cargo companies at Charles de Gaulle in 2015 – Emirates SkyCargo Cargo, Saudi Airlines Cargo and China Southern Cargo. Operators like AirBridgeCargo  Airlines and Qatar Airways Cargo have also increased weekly frequencies.

Air China is to run a new route from January 2016 between Chengdu and Charles de Gaulle.

The  Airbus A330-200 bellyhold flight will introduce bellyhold cargo options on three times a week flights between the French and Chinese cities. After Beijing and Shanghai, Chengdu will be the third Chinese city which Air China has chosen to link with France’s capital.

It seems France is stablising and emerging from the airfreight slump it has experienced and on track for growth.