Due to the corona crisis, international airlines have to keep almost all their aircrafts on the ground, but there is still something going on in the sky. "At the moment everybody lives on the freight. There are many special flights going out, and some of the seats on passenger aircrafts have been removed," reports Hendrik Khezri, Managing Director Air Cargo at a. hartrodt at Frankfurt airport. Like almost all a. hartrodt employees worldwide, he now works from his home office. A lot of protective equipment is currently flown from Asia to Germany. In the new normality, "daily flight schedule changes" keep a. hartrodt's airfreight team busy, says Khezri.
Air cargo hubs still popular
"We recently handled a large project for medical-technical equipment by direct flight from Hong Kong to Germany," the manager gives an example. Shipments from the Far East to Germany and Europe also continued to be handled via air cargo hubs. For the most part, a. hartrodt uses the hub in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), but also Bangkok (Thailand) and Singapore. "In the end, it's the carrier's offer that counts," emphasizes Khezri.
Post-corona: redistribution of freight flows
Perspectively, Khezri sees after the corona crisis only "limited need" for another hub in the Gulf region like in Muscat (Oman). According to him, the most important thing is a high frequency with daily departures from the hub. "The larger the offer, the more attractive the price we can offer our customers," he says. In terms of freight flows, he expects a "redistribution" in post-corona time in the Gulf and the neighbouring region. In his view, Dubai and Abu Dhabi will be increasingly affected by competition from Doha and Istanbul.
Khezri assumes that the number of passenger flights will be permanently "30 percent lower" after the crisis. This will then present new challenges for air freight: According to the manager, before the Covid 19 pandemic, about 60 percent of air cargo was flown as so-called belly freight in passenger planes.