In 2007, China-based for LinkGlobal Logistics paid nearly US$130 million for Parchim Airport, in an unprecedented deal that saw Chinese investors buying their first airport outside of China and beating out 10 other competitors in the process, including Hamburg Airport and Emirates Airline in an international tender.
The airport has an authorized annual capacity of 180,000 flights Ã¢â‚¬“ thanks largely to its military roots Ã¢â‚¬“ and can handle all kinds of civil aircraft, including the Antonov 124 and Airbus A380.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We could see the opportunity and we have the capability to develop this airport and that is why we are committed to this project,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Jonathan Pang speaking to Payload Asia on the sidelines of Air Cargo Europe.
When asked about the substantial competition Ã¢â‚¬“ both from well established players across Europe as well as the up-and-coming airports that military roots Ã¢â‚¬“ Pang says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“we donÃ¢â‚¬™t see it as competition we see it as being complementary.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In Europe there are many airports but in some airports they have restrictions Ã¢â‚¬“ some cannot do extraordinarily large cargo or have slot and night restrictions,Ã¢â‚¬Â he explains. A recent project involved a shipment of train carriages for Bombardier from Germany to India. Parchim was selected, Pang said, because it had the handling facilities, the slots and crucially, 24-hour operational.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This was important because it was a full sequence of flights, so if there was one delay it would impact the others. But with Parchim, the carriers donÃ¢â‚¬™t have to worry about the time, because its 24-hours.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Location, location, location
Location is also key to the future success of Parchim, according to Pang who says it is located in the centre of the Europe, whereas major cargo hubs like Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt are not.
And these airports all suffer congestion and intense pressure from the passenger services, he adds.
Parchim is also ideally placed between Hamburg (120km) and Berlin (160km) both major cargo catchment areas with no air cargo hubs, Ã¢â‚¬Å“so Parchim Airport can serve both cities as a cargo airport.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Hamburg is also the second biggest seaport in Europe and the Baltic ports of Rostock, Wismar and Lubeck are also in a 100km circle of the airport, which also has a direct rail link, all of which gives it a multi-modal advantage, he adds.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We donÃ¢â‚¬™t see competition with other airports, for example Frankfurt and Amsterdam because they are in different locations and some like Frankfurt have night restrictions from 11pm to 5am. So Parchim Airport can be a replacement for airlines who do not obtain slots for the major airports,Ã¢â‚¬Â Pang says.
He also notes that for Asian carriers, Parchim is directly on the flight path into Europe, which can save them one or two hours flying time rather than flying to Amersterdam, Frankfurt or Luxemburg Ã¢â‚¬“ even more compared to London, Paris or Spain.
Growing customer base
And it appears that cargo carriers like what they see at Parchim, as the airport, which started with a number of cargo carriers operating charter fl ights, including MK Airlines, Lufthansa Cargo, Antonov Airlines, Air Berlin, Etihad Airways, United Air Lines, CJSC Aviation Enterprise TESIS (Russia), Rus Aviation and Air Hamburg.
Pang confirmed that Parchim has recently secured commitments by several airlines to fly regular scheduled cargo services through the airport, including Jade Cargo which is planning to fly Shanghai, Parchim, Lagos four times a week. The two parties are in final negotiations with operations to begin soon, Pang said.
Another new service is also set to begin, with three flights a week between Parchim and Tianjin carrying aircraft parts for Airbus, Boeing and other service providers which will become six per week at a later stage.
An agreement with China Southern was also reached recently, which will see a B747-400 freighter flying into Parchim six times a week and Pang says discussions are also ongoing with Air China, but no agreement has been reached yet, partly due to the severe slowdown of Chinese exports.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Business is slow because of the economic downturn, but it is also a good opportunity for airlines to think about where they can reduce the costs, reduce flying hours and reduce landing and handling costs,Ã¢â‚¬Â highlights Pang.
Ambitious expansion plans
In addition to the bonded warehouse currently under development, Parchim plans to upgrade to ICAO 4F class airport with expanded parking stands to accommodate more wide body aircraft (B747F / AN124F / A380F) and the runway and taxiways will be extended.
The total area of cargo terminal and courier centre will reach 100,000 sq m with supporting storage facilities of live animals (AVI), dangerous goods (DG), valuable goods (VAL) and perishables (PER).
The airport is also planning aircraft hangers capable of accommodating B747 and B777 and also an aircraft conversion plant for B777 passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft conversion with joint venture partners.
The railway will be extended to the airport bond ocean container terminal and a scheduled train service from ParchimÃ¢â‚¬™s passenger terminal to Berlin and Hamburg will be operated every 30 minutes.