Gerton Hulsman, managing director Flughafen Düsseldorf Cargo, the handler at Düsseldorf International airport, notes: “Despite having 23 international airports, most German cargo travels by road via Frankfurt, leading to congestion on the main road structure.”
“With the continuous rise in fuel costs, these road feeder services are becoming very expensive. There is much discussion about the benefits and realities of using cargo trains but it would be difficult to manage freight and passenger trains using the same infrastructure of tracks and equipment.
“What would make good sense now would be to make better use of the existing airports in the vicinities where the cargo is generated,” Hulsman recommended.
“Düsseldorf is a perfect example and, although we have a very healthy bellyhold business, we still see a lot of cargo moving from the region to Frankfurt.
“Regarding the relationship between airports and airlines’ cargo operations, the balance has changed to a large degree. Whilst airports earn good income from fees, shops, restaurants, hotels and so on, facilities to handle cargo from widebodied aircraft are also vital,” he declared.
“In some cases the airlines are earning 12-15 percent or more of their revenue from cargo,” Hulsman explained.
He went on: “To keep up with the necessary investment, decreases in handling income make life very difficult.
“With the cost of on-airport handling facilities being so high, companies will use off-airports sites more in the future. As long as the shuttles and docking are run correctly, it should make little difference to overall efficiency.”
Hulsman pointed out: “We believe that much cargo could be efficiently handled off-airport, but perishables, pharma shipments and dangerous goods items need to be handled on-airport.”