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Freight in the city

Despite being dwarfed in size by the major hubs, Europe’s smaller airports are a magnet for air freight. Keith Mwanalushi examines how these gateways are staying ahead
It’s no secret that European small- to mid-sized airports are some of the best performers when it comes to air cargo movements in Europe, and that trend seems to be far from waning.


Paris-Vatry Airport is in the heart of the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. It is structured around four major divisions: passenger transport, cargo shipping, private aviation and flight training. The airport is equipped with CAT A infrastructure and a 3,860m long runway, which allows it to receive any type of aircraftwithout restrictions.


“We are open every day of the year, without slot or noise restrictions,” reveals Yoann Maugran, Cargo Sales Manager at Aéroport Paris-Vatry. The airport’s two freight terminals have a total capacity for 12,000m² storage, including a 2,500m² temperature-controlled zone.


Its proximity to Paris and the Benelux region is of benefit to the airport, feels Maugran. “It is easy to access and these factors put us on the industry radar to be the preferred airport in France for charter operations.”


Paris-Vatry mainly handles ad-hoc flights but for all types of cargo including relief goods, temperature and time sensitive shipments, live animals and outsized cargo. “Air freight volumes are growing globally, and we saw an exceptional year in 2017 with a boom in our cargo activity due to saturation at the big European hubs.”


Maugran sees plenty of opportunities arising, and not only for charters, but for regular cargo activity too, which is a top priority for the airport in 2018, specifically looking towards the Asian and African markets. “If we talk about the type of cargo where we see big potential it has to be perishables and healthcare products,” he points.


Leipzig/Halle Airport in Germany saw just over 1 million passengers between January and June this year and handled 1.14 million tonnes of freight in 2017 and, according to Johannes Jähn, Managing Director, it is Europe’s fifth-largest cargo airport. “Volumes of air freight have been consistently increasing for 12 years and the figures for 2018 are already significantly higher than in the previous year – with double digit growth,” he reports.


The cargo statistics at the end of the first half of this year reached 606,500 tonnes, an increase of more than 12% over the same period in 2017.

“The engine for growth is particularly with DHL, which operates the largest international hub in its network at the airport site,” says Jähn.



The general cargo business also looks in good shape with triple-digit growth, Jähn reports. He says increasing activities by the likes of AirBridgeCargo and ANTONOV Airlines and the development of long term freight charters have helped push numbers up.


China has been a vital growth area too as Jähn indicates – “about two dozen flights operate between Leipzig/Halle and destinations in China every week at the moment.” The airport also maintains several cooperation arrangements with Chinese partners like the Shenzhen Airport Group, the Shanghai Airport Authority and the Henan Province Airport Group. >>


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