Cologne/Bonn playing a key role in logistics
While passenger operations at Cologne Bonn Airport have ground to an almost complete halt as a result of the coronavirus crisis, things are buzzing in another area of the airport: freight operations are running at full capacity. This week, around 700 cargo aircraft took off and landed, an increase of 13 percent compared to the same time last year. During this worldwide pandemic, it is especially important that both people and companies in the region are supplied with the goods they need – and, as an important location for logistics, the Airport is playing a key role as a supplier.
“As a key component in the logistics chain, we currently bear a huge responsibility – as a hub for important supplies, our freight business is currently operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at full capacity”, says Johan Vanneste, CEO of Flughafen Köln/Bonn GmbH. “It is becoming clear how important it is that we, as one of the biggest freight airports in Europe, remain fully operational in these times of crisis. Our authorisation to operate night flights is also particularly relevant in this context”, Vanneste explains. “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.”
This week around 700 cargo aircraft took off and landed at the Airport – as well as industrial goods, they were also carrying medical supplies and equipment for hospitals. The proportion of food supplies is also high: entry restrictions at national borders mean that a large percentage of goods deliveries are being diverted from the roads to the air – and are therefore being transported via Cologne/Bonn.
As goods are no longer being transported in the holds of passenger aircraft due to the huge drop in passenger flight transport – this so-called belly freight normally accounts for around a half of freight volume worldwide – 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 branch office outside of the USA at Cologne Bonn Airport. This US-American logistics company has sited their European hub for international goods transport in Cologne/Bonn.
Frank Sportolari, Head of UPS Germany tells us: “Even though these are challenging times, we are continuing to meet our customers’ needs. Through the services we offer, we provide the infrastructure to facilitate trade and ensure the reliable supply of goods. Our Air Hub at Cologne Bonn Airport is one of the largest and most important hubs in the world for particularly urgent express shipments and international deliveries.”
In addition to the three major cargo airlines – UPS, FedEx and DHL – further air cargo carriers are also strengthening their presence at Cologne/Bonn during this crisis. New on the Airports’ apron is the Luxembourg air cargo carrier Cargolux, who now have 14 flights a week operating from the airport. The company’s home airport is Luxembourg, but the airline is currently diverting some of its capacity to the Rhineland, initially until mid-April. The Cargolux Boeing 747s can hold up to 100 tonnes of freight and are being handled by the employees of Cologne Bonn Airport’s ground services. The airline is operating flights to destinations in the USA such as Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.
The Egyptian cargo airline Egyptair Cargo, who already have a base in Cologne/Bonn, have this week doubled the number of flights they operate from Cologne/Bonn. There is also news from the Spanish airline Swiftair – the airline will be running additional charter flights to carry medical supplies.
After passenger transport, air freight is the second largest source of income for Cologne Bonn Airport. In 2019, around 815,000 tonnes of goods were handled here. The airport is the third largest in the German air freight segment; in Europe it is among the top 10 and it is one of the 30 largest freight airports in the world. Global players UPS, FedEx and DHL operate important European hubs at Cologne Bonn Airport – from here they are able to distribute shipments across the globe within 24 hours.