Berlin Brandenburg cargo center opens, airport opening uncertain
By Adina Solomon
Berlin Brandenburg Airport still doesn’t have an opening date – but the airport’s cargo center does.
The center opens its doors Aug. 1, Torsten Jueling, product manager air cargo for Berlin Airports, says. The official opening takes place Wednesday.
Brandenburg is meant to replace nearby Schönefeld Airport and Tegel Airport, thereby concentrating traffic on one side of Berlin.
“We want to bring these two airports together to create more transfer and transit traffic for passengers and cargo,” Jueling says. “That’s the reason behind the decision to close Tegel and Schönefeld after opening the new airport.”
Brandenburg was originally slated to open in 2010, but it became mired in delays involving construction and management issues.
He says the opening date for Brandenburg will be announced in September or October. The soft opening begins with the new cargo center.
“It’s definitely not the best case for German airport management or the German industry,” Jueling says. “We hope that with this test period during the soft opening, we can check all these systems to have a smooth operation for our opening day.”
Jueling says when Brandenburg opens, it will account for 30 percent of Berlin’s air cargo.
In 2012, Schönefeld and Tegal warehouses handled 75,000 tonnes of freight. The new cargo center will have a capacity of around 100,000 tonnes per year. It will feature a handling area of almost 130,000 square feet, a cooling area and customs onsite, which Jueling says is the main advantage.
The center is divided into three sections: one for Swissport, one for a Frankfurt-based cargo handler and the rest for forwarding agents.
Berlin’s economy is dominated by the service sector, but the main industries that will utilize the center are pharmaceutical, electronics from Siemens and engines from Rolls-Royce.
Cargo operations will be moved to Brandenburg from Schönefeld and Tegal.
“The first step is really to switch over our cargo handling operation here at Schönefeld for the existing Schönefeld airlines, and then to offer cargo customers in Tegal the option to start to move,” he says. “There’s really limited space at Tegal. And if you want to grow with the market, then you have two choices: You can go off airport and truck the cargo the next hub, or you can do it in a more controlled way.”
Part of the aim of the cargo center and Brandenburg Airport is to increase the number of long-haul destinations in Berlin. Jueling says Berlin is also a good base to serve Western Poland with a driving time of around three hours.
“If an international company is looking for a good investment point, one case is the question of the airport infrastructure long-haul flights,” Jueling says. “It’s easier for new companies from abroad interested in service or producing industry here in our region to settle here.”