While passenger operations at Cologne Bonn Airport have ground to an almost complete halt as a result of the coronavirus crisis, its freight business is currently operating at full capacity, reports Torsten Wefers, director for cargo sales
While passenger operations at Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) have ground to an almost complete halt as a result of the coronavirus crisis, as an important location for logistics, our freight business is currently operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at full capacity. Our authorisation to operate night flights is also particularly relevant in this context. Our employees are highly motivated and are working as a team to ensure that we can get through these difficult times together. We owe them a great debt of thanks.
Cargo airlines are currently taking on a particularly vital role in the reliable delivery of urgently needed goods. UPS owns one of the world’s largest cargo airlines and they operate their biggest air hub outside of the USA at Cologne Bonn Airport. In addition to the three major cargo airlines – UPS, FedEx, and DHL – another 20 air cargo carriers are operating regularly scheduled and charter flights in CGN and are strengthening their presence at Cologne/Bonn during this crisis. Cargolux also decided to use Cologne/Bonn temporarily as an additional gateway operating flights to various US-destinations.
An average of around 700 cargo aircraft has been taking off and landing at the airport each week. As well as industrial goods, they were also carrying medical supplies and equipment for hospitals. The proportion of food supplies is also high.
Challenges and opportunities
For the cargo traffic, the biggest challenges have been mainly operational, especially additional cargo traffic during already busy peak times. Our response has included the addition of eight aircraft stands at short notice.
In CGN, a close cooperation between the stakeholders is already existing but communication and cooperation has even intensified.
New standard procedures for handling of cargo-only passenger aircraft services had to be developed; and there has also been a shift of air cargo volumes from other transport modes to air cargo.
CGN airport has successfully evolved as competitive alternative for (ad-hoc) cargo charter operations.
CGN has maintained stable and normal service levels overall. Adding additional space for ready-build ULDs and sourcing additional staff from other departments have helped maintain service levels.
Since mid-November, the weekly number of cargo flights have been increased by an average of more than 10%. Cargo volumes are currently on the same levels as in 2019, as the CGN cargo traffic is dominated by freighters.
All cargo-related strategic initiatives are still going on and are even intensified.