While passenger operations at Cologne Bonn Airport have ground to an almost complete halt as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, freight operations are running at full capacity. As an important logistics location, the airport is playing a key role in ensuring that both people and companies in the region are supplied with the goods they need.
“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. 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.”
As well as industrial goods, cargo aircraft are carrying medical supplies and equipment for hospitals. The proportion of food supplies is also high.
As goods are no longer being transported in the holds of passenger aircraft due to the huge drop in passenger services – this 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 operates its biggest branch office outside the US at Cologne Bonn Airport. Frank Sportolari, Head of UPS Germany, says: “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 airport’s apron is the Luxembourg air cargo carrier Cargolux, which now has 14 flights a week operating from the airport. 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 US such as Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian cargo airline Egyptair Cargo, which already has a base in Cologne/Bonn, has doubled the number of flights it operates from Cologne/Bonn. There is also news from the Spanish airline Swiftair – the airline will be running additional charter flights to carry medical supplies.