Air freight for complete vehicles is in vogue

a. hartrodt has special know-how at German airports.

Electric cars are moving to the fore - this was not only demonstrated at the Frankfurt Motor Show IAA that has just closed its doors. In a. hartrodt's air freight division, which has been loading complete cars since January 2018, e-vehicles are also in vogue. “Our customers have more and more models with electric drive,” reports Markus Bauer, Manager Automotive Division at a. hartrodt at Munich Airport. Among others, the team loads e-tron models from Audi as well as electric SUVs and limousines from the Shanghai startup Nio. “We expect more complete vehicles to be flown in from China in the future,” says Bauer.

Protoypes and testing cars

The Automotive Division organizes worldwide vehicle transports from and to Europe by air freight. The full-service range includes prototypes, test cars and show vehicles for trade fairs such as the IAA. In view of the climate debate and diesel scandals, Hendrik Khezri, Managing Director Air Cargo at a. hartrodt at Frankfurt Airport, observes: “While air freight shipments of automotive parts are declining, the transport business with complete vehicles for the major manufacturers from Germany is increasing.”

Full charter for complete vehicles

Loading complete vehicles is a demanding business that requires a great deal of special know-how. For vehicle tests in South Africa or South America, for example, transportation is not only extremely time-sensitive. Highly sensitive measurement technology that is installed in the wheels also must be loaded. The cars are flown in passenger aircraft (underfloor) as well as in freighters (main deck), partly they are loaded in so-called car racks. Full charter is also offered by a. hartrodt.

Air freight transport is particularly demanding for electric vehicles because the batteries are hazardous goods. “Standard batteries must be tested beforehand. For batteries that have not been tested, the manufacturer must apply for a special permit from the German Federal Aviation Authority,” explains Bauer.

“We collect the vehicles from the customer or they are delivered directly to the relevant airline,” explains Khezri. a. hartrodt has warehouses at all German airports. In two to three years, the services will be expanded to include own high-security warehouses with special equipment for concept vehicles or prototypes.