Copenhagen airport has long beenseen as a useful hub by Singapore Airlinesand Korean Air Cargo. However,the addition of two Chinese heavyweightsin the last few months seemsto be catapulting the airport into thebig league.
The airport saw Air China startthree weekly B747-200F services inSeptember, and this was followed bythree MD-11F services by China CargoAirlines in December. In all this bringsthe airport’s wide-body freighter departuresto 68 a month, double thenumber it had two years ago.
The Air China flights were particularlygratifying for Lars Korup, the airport’shead of cargo, because Copenhagen isonly the second airport in Europe thatthe national carrier has chosen to servewith all-cargo capacity.
"They have been investigating it forover two years and I am sure they chosecarefully," he says. "SAS was certainly a help, but I think they would have come here anyway."
The reference to SAS is that it is takingsome 25 to 30 tonnes each way onthe flights, which serve both Shanghaiand Beijing outbound before returningdirect to Shanghai.
The China Cargo flights have asimilar outbound routing, but returnvia Paris. Korup speculates that withAir China and China Cargo supposedlyin talks about a cargo joint venture,the two carriers might be planning tocombine their services to make Copenhagena key European base.
SAS, however, clearly regards thetwo carriers as rivals for now, as it isnot planning to take capacity on theChina Cargo flights, even though itadmits it would like more capacity tothe PRC. "We are evaluating partnersall the time," says Teddy Zebitz, SAS’vice president business systems. "But have just started co-operation with Air China into Beijing and Shanghai and that is satisfactory to us."
As well as the Chinese flights, Copenhagengot an extra all-cargo frequencyfrom Singapore Airlines on the winterschedule, bringing its departures tonine weekly. Three flights a week bythe carrier go on from Copenhagento Chicago and back the same way,a route started in October 2005. SASalso takes around a third of capacityon these flights.
Korean Air, which calls three timesa week at the airport on the way backfrom Vienna and Amsterdam, hasstarted showing interest in other Scandinavianairports, however, launchingtwo B747F flights via Stockholm inAugust, a move followed by CathayPacific a month later.
Korup shrugs off this threat to Copenhagen’sdominance. "In the pasttwo to three years, we have come to beseen as a hub not just for Norway andSweden, but for the Baltics and NorthernEurope," he says. "For example, we have DHL freighter links to the Baltics, and Poland is reachable by a short ferry ride and then truck."
He points to Singapore Airlines asproof of this. "They centralised theirfreighter services in Amsterdam andBrussels a year ago, but they still thinkit worth while to have a substantial presencein Copenhagen," he says.
One attraction is undoubtedly theslightly better outbound yields availablein Copenhagen compared to highlycompetitive Frankfurt or Amsterdam,but another could be swifter processingtimes.
"We see cargo coming from Japanto Hamburg and Cologne via Copenhagen," Korup insists. "Japanese forwarders ask for Copenhagen not Frankfurt because it is faster."
– Peter Conway