Freighter and facility expansions at Leipzig pick up

Over the last week, several freight and facility expansion announcements at Leipzig/Halle Airport (LEJ) in Germany by AeroLogicCargoLogic Germany and DHL Express suggest the airport is a growing hotspot for cargo in Europe.

Lufthansa Cargo will soon take delivery of two 777F aircraft, which will be operated by AeroLogic, the LEJ-based 50/50 joint venture of DHL Express and Lufthansa Cargo, as reported by our sister site, Cargo Facts. The growth of Aerologic’s fleet to twelve units upon delivery of the two leased freighters suggests Lufthansa is looking to expand its freighter operations at the airport.

CargoLogic Germany, the yet-to-launch scheduled subsidiary of UK-based CargoLogicAir Holding (an affiliate of the Volga-Dnepr Group), also appears to be nearing receipt of a German AOC. The startup has reserved three German registrations for its incoming fleet of 737-400SFs, and fleet tracking databases indicated that last Thursday, a 737-400SF arrived at LEJ.

DHL Express, which has its central hub based at LEJ, told Air Cargo Airports that it is also planning expansions of its facilities at the airport. The plans call for extension of its current apron from 60 to 96 parking positions and construction of additional taxiways to optimize its facilities connection to the runways. The integrator also plans to upgrade the southern runway to allow for intersection operations, as well as simultaneous use of both runways, and to develop additional terminal and office buildings along the border of its southern apron. Within these new facilities, DHL Express will construct spaces to include an empty container terminal, a secure area for parking trucks and a maintenance hangar for small aircraft. Dates for construction, completion and operation of these facilities are yet to be determined.

The airport is also the home base for Volga-Dnepr’s subsidiary, Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Service GmbH (AMTES GmbH), which provides a maintenance base for Antonov 124 and western aircraft at the site. AirBridgeCargo, also part of the Volga-Dnepr Group, flies regular freight charter traffic and scheduled services to the airport, according to LEJ.

But what is driving all this expansion? And why Leipzig?

One of the policies local authorities have utilized to make LEJ an attractive destination for carrier and integrator operations is quantity-dependent deductions on landing fees, as an incentive to increase the use of LEJ’s infrastructure. The deductions apply to all carriers, but are only effective for low-noise aircraft as outlined in the airport’s regulations on fees for aviation.

For DHL Express, the integrator transports an average of 1,900 tonnes of freight per working day at LEJ, with volumes reaching up to 2,400 tonnes during peak season. The company said it has been able to absorb this growth, driven by surging global e-commerce, through terminal expansion and the use of larger aircraft at the airport, where space is available. The integrator also told us that its close connection to different traffic routes is an important factor, as well as the support the company receives from local authorities and the population in the region.

In 2018, LEJ ranked number 25 on Air Cargo World’s top 50 busiest airports worldwide. For 2018, the airport’s cargo throughput increased 7.3 percent, processing about 1.22 million tonnes in 2018, according to LEJ. The airport has two runways and offers access to intermodal transport options for cargo. While some European airports are suffering from capacity issues, LEJ also has room to expand, with 1,400 hectares of development space available in its immediate vicinity.

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Chelsea Toczauer

Chelsea Toczauer is the Associate Editor of the company’s daily news and monthly magazine Air Cargo World. She holds two BAs in International Relations and Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California, as well as a double accredited US-Chinese MA in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University-Nanjing University joint degree program. Chelsea speaks Mandarin and Russian.