Air freight’s performance is partly due to…
Air transportation has significantrole in the logistics supply of the world, and this will remain strong in the future too. This transport mode has certain unique values especially high speed, high reliability and security and the good global connectivity. The new global environment in 2020-2021 confirmed again these values are crucial for the logistics of the world. We need air cargo solutions, and we need air cargo hubs, no question. We believe the logistics business itself is a very free and flexible industry, including our air cargo segment and the customers of our industry e.g. the freight forwarders choose their transport mode and way according to highest efficiency and best operation solutions.
Transport modalities compete with each other similarly to competition amongst cargo airlines or airports. So our dream air cargo hub has to be very competitive in respect of service and cost levels, speed, connectivity and has to provide sustainable solutions in the future. We believe certain changes are also necessary in the future, like establishing direct regional cargo hubs (like BUD) closer to the customer markets and locations, closer to the shippers and addressees, with 6 maximum 8 hours road trucking solutions instead of 20 hour trucking solutions in Europe for air cargo. We see in our air cargo industry every hour counts, delivery speed is getting more and more important (sometimes in special cases even minutes). We believe this is simply more in line with the goals of making our air cargo industry more competitive and sustainable.
Hot spot: Good connectivity, infrastructure makes BUD attractive
We handed over our new 32,600 sq mt cargo centre, BUD Cargo City in January 2020 and it was fully designed too according to the aforementioned principles. Its goal was to centralise all non-integrator related cargo handling activities at BUD, one location for all cargo handlers, which also means one operational point (hand- and takeover) for the forwarders. The new 30,000 sq mt cargo apron in BUD Cargo City for the full freighters is just next to the handling building, and the area is very close to the Passenger Terminals to provide short operational distances for the belly cargo too, the farthermost passenger aircraft stand is some 800 mt from the handling building. We minimised the operational distances and time of the air cargo within the airport, and the new facility is much closer to the motorway network with direct connection to it, the landside availability of the new center is very easy and fast too.
The design of the handling building makes possible quick and very linear cargo handling operation with highest security level and increased focus on special cargo too (more than 1 000 m2 special cargo storage including 15-25, 2-80C storages, freezer rooms etc.) or the most modern 180*180 cm dual X-Rays. We have full WI-FI coverage, hundreds of cameras in the building which can support further digitized solutions to support the air cargo operations. Customs are located in the new handling building too, the 24/7 airport operation and cargo handling is supported by 24/7 customs clearance, which is well prepared by e-customs clearance solutions for the new import environment in the European Union after July 01, 2021 and change in the customs clearance for goods under 22 EURO.
We have built forwarder facilities too in BUD Cargo City, and these companies can enjoy the advantages of the direct “on-site” presence. We have large expansion area for more cargo apron and buildings including handling and forwarding activities which are already in preparation phase. And we tried to build up a sustainable concept, not only minimizing the operation distances and reducing the CO2 emissions but we also use energy efficient solutions, e.g. using as much as natural lights we could in the building, using LED lights or electric vehicles by the handlers.
Surviving tough times by building Resilience
I would say amending the well-known key words in innovation like digitization (e.g. cargo community systems, digitised processes or process supports with eliminating paper works, AI, data-sharing), development of technologies and operational processes (automation, new technologies like self-driving equipment, drone solutions, more co-op with other transport modes, quality assurance systems like the IATA CEIV Pharma, which is under implementation at BUD), sustainability (reducing environmental footprint and energy consumption, higher share for renewable energies, decreasing noise pollution, usage of more environmental friendly recyclable material in operation etc.).
A third word is very important. You can call it collaboration, teamwork or a good cargo community, but its message is the same that co-operation is crucial for the presence and future of air cargo, and for the air cargo hubs too. Air cargo is a “multi-player game” including several stakeholders with common goals but sometime with different interests. An airport, a cargo hub operator can be a good option as a neutral player to host and organise co-operation and discussions amongst the stakeholders. If an airport would like to develop in air cargo it must be active, even pro-active in the community and invest into the community work, similarly to the cargo infrastructure. These factors are equally important for the success.
Impact of Air Cargo traffic on Airport Development
The cargo traffic in January – August 2021 at BUD increased by 39 per cent compared to same period of 2020 and 34.5 per cent to the same period of 2019, we handled 167 000 tonnes cargo in September 2020 – August 2021 twelve months period. We have a massive cargo development at BUD in several segments.
Our new cargo facilities can provide enough capacity for 2-3 years, but we want to be ready by that time with their expansions therefore we started working on projects to provide more cargo apron space, more handling and forwarder facilities with special focus on the booming segments like e-commerce and pharmaceutical products.
Paving way for the ‘next normal’ in air logistics
Community and cooperation is very important, we cannot emphasise how important its role is. 2020 was difficult and challenging for everybody, also for all airports and cargo stakeholders around the globe. In spring of 2020 we had to react quick at BUD too to keep our air cargo operation rolling without problems, and especially to provide perfect service for the new tasks like vaccine transportation. Our cargo community proved its power, more hundred medical cargo flights were handled smoothly in 2020 when it was necessary and 75-80 per cent of the approximately20 million vaccines arrived to Hungary via air cargo solutions at BUD. Related to the full freighter operation we were always a freighter friendly airport (and will be), and number of freighter connections have been increased steadily in the last years. For instance, 5 years ago we had weekly 5 regular non-integrator freighter flights, now BUD handles weekly 23, and the integrator segments has been improving greatly too.