The Lufthansa Cargosubsidiary Charter AgencyGmbH has opened an officeat Sharjah InternationalAirport, which is the thirdstation worldwide of the rapidlygrowing German brokerÂ¨C after establishing branchesin Chicago and Hong Kong.
Sharjah has been pickedas a new site because manyRussian charter companiesand carriers from the CIScountries have parts of theirAntonov or Tupolev freighterfleets based at the airport.
So in case of an urgentbusiness case, "we can havevery quick access to the capacitywe need," stated ChristianFink, general manager of theCharter Agency, during arecent opening ceremony inDubai. He also pointed outthat Sharjah and especiallyneighbouring hot spot Dubai,are a Â¡®must’ for feeding andde-feeding intercontinentaltransports that have been organised by his company orone of the members of theCargo Airline Group, e.g.Lufthansa Cargo or SwissWorldCargo.
"Take for instance drillingequipment and spare partsfor the oil industry that webring in by scheduled or charterflights from Houston andthat must be delivered in andaround the Middle East. Inthose cases we need onwardcharter flights from Dubaior Sharjah to the final destinationsof the shipment tosecure the whole project fromdoor to door," Fink said.
Head of the new branchoffice is Sujit Subramanianwho formerly worked forSingapore Airlines Cargo andjoined LH Charter last yearin order to push the broker’sMiddle East activities.
"My main aim is to ensure the linking of freight flows managed by the members of the Cargo Airline Group from Europe, Far East and the US into this region and out of it," Subramaniam explained.The sea/air traffic is anotherarea he wants to step in, byflying out the goods to Europethat have been shippedfrom Chinese, Korean andother Asian ports to Salalah,Dubai or Fujairah in the Gulfregion.
Another opportunity couldbe the air transport of usedcars from the U.A.E. to placesin Africa. "There is quite a demand and we want to participate in this business," Subramaniam said. In addition,he mentioned the trafficof perishables in particularflower transports from Ethiopiaand Kenya. Most of thesefloricultures are still broughtto Amsterdam where they arebeing traded at the Aalsmeerauction.
However, with Dubai’s newFlower Centre gaining marketshare, a growing number ofshipments are being broughtto the Emirates and re-distributedfrom there to buyer’s locations.One specific importmarket is Russia and the CIScountries.
Today, the Russians stillimport their flowers fromHolland, but in future theymight do this from Dubaiinstead", Subramanian said.As a result, there would be agrowing demand for charter flights from the U.A.E. toMoscow, St. Petersburg orKiev.
Finally, he would not excludecharter missions organisedby his office from Indiato the CIS region, becausethere are no scheduled cargoflights between these locationsyet.
To establish the brandname in the Gulf area successfully,however, is not aneasy task for the newcomer.With Chapman Freebornand Air Charter Servicealready firmly establishedin the Middle East, CharterAgency faces stiff competition.A challenge indeed,Subramaniam acknowledged,but "with Lufthansa’s brandname behind us which standsfor reliability, responsibilityand trust, we will capitalise onthat and gain market sharesquickly," he said.
He also announced thatbesides charter operations,he might use the transportcapacity of local scheduledcarriers like Abu Dhabi-basedEtihad or the fleet of DHLExpress at Bahrain to bringsmaller shipments to theconsignees.
Â¨C Heiner Siegmund