Germany’s number one international airport, Frankfurt, is seeking to increase its two-way air cargo trade with South Africa. This was highlighted at a media briefing at the recent 2017 Air Cargo Africa conference in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg, by Fraport AG executive board member and COO Anke Giesen. (Fraport is the company that operates Frankfurt International Airport.)
“Business is already flourishing,” she pointed out. “Germany is already South Africa’s second-largest trading partner, after China.” More than 600 German companies are active in South Africa. “These strong ties between our two countries are reflected by Frankfurt Airport.”
But the two countries both want to further increase this trade. And Fraport is eager to play its part in achieving this. South Africa is the airport’s biggest airfreight customer in Africa. (Frankfurt is connected with 29 destinations across the continent.) Two-way traffic totalled 35 000 t last year, which was an 8.5% increase over the figure for 2015.
“Frankfurt stands out not only because of its central location in Europe, but also for its route network,” she noted. It has the largest destination network of any airport in Europe, with 88 operators serving 248 destinations in 100 countries across all the inhabited continents. All the world’s biggest airfreight operators fly to and from Frankfurt.
Regarding South Africa, the airport is seeking, in particular, to increase bilateral automotive sector airfreight. “Cars are one of the most important product groups in German/South African trade,” cites Giesen. Automotive products are South Africa’s second most important export category to Germany and are Germany’s single-biggest export category to South Africa. “Automotive is [also] a key industry in the Frankfurt region.”
“We, at Frankfurt, are very strong on the general cargo side,” pointed out Fraport SVP: cargo Dirk Schusdziara. “We are a full service provider. We are [also] the biggest pharmaceuticals hub in Europe.” The airport also has the most modern live animals handling facility in Europe.
The airport has a strategic modernisation and expansion programme under way, designated Cargo City 2020. This will add 100 000 m2 of warehouse space to its existing facilities. “We really invest in our infrastructure,” he highlighted.
“Pushing innovation forward is another top priority for us,” emphasised Giesen. The company is always searching for new ways of doing things, to offer new solutions to customers and bring about faster and more transparent processes. “Fraport is only one part of the air cargo supply chain,” she observed. “Together with all our partners, we have created the Air Cargo Community Frankfurt. We can only maintain a seamless process for our customers if all the players on site work together.”
“We have really done a lot of investment into informational technology,” added Schusdziara. This has been to link all the players in the airfreight sector using Frankfurt Airport. “We believe we are number one in the world [in this regard]. It’s a very advanced system and ensures electronic data exchange between the parties.”
The company takes security very seriously. “It’s a huge issue. Security comes first,” he assures. “We are in constant consultation with the authorities, to ensure the highest possible security.” A new development is the routine use of sniffer dogs to help cargo be cleared by airport security.