Frederik von Blomberg talks to Airside about his role as GSE fleet manager for handler AeroGround Flughafen München GmbH)
Q. WHAT IS THE SCALE OF THE GROUND SERVICES OPERATIONS YOU SUPPORT, AND THE SIZE OF THE GSE FLEET THAT YOU OPERATE AT MUNICH AND IN BERLIN?
A. AeroGround Flughafen München GmbH currently handles more than 600 flights a day. Our subsidiary AeroGround Berlin GmbH is responsible for around 120 movements at the two Berlin airports of Tegel and Schönefeld. Overall, AeroGround’s GSE fleet management team is responsible for nearly 1,000 motorised pieces of equipment and over 3,000 other mobile assets.
Q. ARE YOU GROWING YOUR GSE FOOTPRINT AT MUNICH OR BERLIN?
A. At Munich, the amount of GSE in use has remained stable in recent times, with no significant ups or downs. In addition, the near future will not show major changes until either commercial conditions change or the decisions about important infrastructure measures are made.
With the acquisition of Acciona Airport Services Berlin GmbH, including all equipment and the one-to-one transfer into AeroGround Berlin GmbH, the overall footprint at both Berlin airports remained the same. Future growth here, however, will definitely lead to an adjusted setup.
Q. WHEN IT COMES TO ACQUIRING GSE, DO YOU TYPICALLY LOOK TO BUY OR TO LEASE EQUIPMENT? WHAT FACTORS WILL AFFECT THIS DECISION?
A. Typically, AeroGround invests in its own equipment. This has proven to be the most economical solution. In addition, it gives us the opportunity, together with our supplier, to acquire equipment according to the specifications needed for AeroGround’s operations. But, for short-term requirements, GSE rental is an option.
Q. LIKEWISE, WHEN IT COMES TO REPLACING GSE, WHAT WILL DETERMINE WHEN GSE IS TO BE REPLACED AND HOW WILL YOU DETERMINE EXACTLY WHAT SHOULD BE ACQUIRED?
A. There is one main reason why we take GSE out of service: if maintaining operational readiness becomes uneconomic, perhaps due to rising maintenance costs. The decision about GSE specifications is a joint effort involving the operations departments and other stakeholders under the leadership of the fleet management team.
Q. PRESUMABLY, YOUR PRODUCT REPLACEMENT CYCLES DIFFER ACCORDING TO THE TYPE OF UNIT INVOLVED, AS WELL AS MANY OTHER FACTORS?
A. AeroGround has no general replacement cycles in place. The lifetime of GSE is primarily based on the reliable availability of spare parts, provided compliance to GSE KPIs (key performance indicators) related to safety and operational quality is maintained.
Q. ARE THERE FAVOURED GSE SUPPLIERS THAT YOU TURN TO FIRST, OR WOULD YOU CONSIDER ALL MANUFACTURERS WITHIN AN OPEN TENDER PROCESS?
A. As a public entity, AeroGround is bound by European law regarding the acquisition of new GSE, which results in tender processes. These are open to all suppliers. We prioritise having a good relationship with all manufacturers.
Q. ARE THERE MANY PRESSURES OTHER THAN FINANCIAL OR PERFORMANCE-BASED ONES THAT WOULD AFFECT YOUR CHOICE OF GSE (AND MANUFACTURER)? FOR EXAMPLE, WOULD THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF ANY GSE YOU ACQUIRE BE A FACTOR?
A. Munich Airport has consistently pursued its goal of going CO2 neutral by 2020. AeroGround supports this effort with the procurement of ‘green’ GSE. Already, 25% of the motorised GSE fleet is electrically driven.
Where an e-version is not available or the TCO (total cost of ownership) vis-a-vis conventional engines is uneconomical, we order GSE with the latest diesel technology to minimise emissions.
Q. HAS THE CHANGING NATURE OF THE AIRCRAFT YOU ARE ASKED TO HANDLE AFFECTED WHICH GSE YOU CHOOSE TO ACQUIRE AND TO OPERATE?
A. Over recent years, AeroGround has procured where possible equipment with the widest possible range of usability – such as steps suitable for both narrow- and widebody aircraft. This flexibility has proven itself, reducing the number of different variants of the same type of GSE.
Ongoing monitoring of both aircraft as well as the GSE industry puts us in a position to act fast should the need for further adjustments arise.