Düsseldorf handles the challenges

posted on 14th June 2018

Düsseldorf International Airport has a somewhat unusual model, at least by Western European standards – its primary airside warehouse operator is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the gateway’s operator. Airside International looks at the plans of the German airport’s logistics specialist

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Although Düsseldorf International Airport is perhaps Germany’s third-biggest air gateway and sits at the heart of a heavily industrialised area, it has always been regarded as a passenger rather than a freight hub. Nevertheless, the airport’s primary warehouse operator handled 102,000 tonnes of cargo last year and is planning for further expansion.

Flughafen Düsseldorf Cargo GmbH (FDCG), also known as DUS Cargo Logistics, is a 100 percent subsidiary of the airport operator, Flughafen Düsseldorf GmbH (FDG), as is its counterpart handler on the ramp – Flughafen Düsseldorf Ground Handling. Though there is comp

etition in the form of a small airside warehouse operation called Cargo Charter Services (CCS) that is used by Swissport – which also has a bigger terminal off-airport – the vast majority of Düsseldorf’s airside cargo moves through the 12,600 square metre warehouse operated by DUS Cargo Logistics. Indeed, the company handles a large part of the airport’s cargo and processes the freight of more than 30 international airlines, including the regular flights of such giants as Etihad, Emirates, Delta, Air China, Lufthansa, airberlin and Turkish.

Quality is at the top of the priority list of DUS Cargo Logistics’ managing director, Gerton Hulsman. Training of staff in both warehouse operation and document handling is a continuous theme, he notes. Hulsman’s mind is also on the future. The existing warehouse has the capacity to handle perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 more tonnes of cargo a year than it did in 2012, but throughput is growing fast – indeed, during the three months of the recent December 2012 – February 2013 quarter, DUS Cargo Logistics handled more freight than ever before in that period.

The German economy has proven itself stronger than just about all its European counterparts during the financial crisis, he points out, while the surrounding North-Rhine Westphalia state’s prodigious output of exports including automotives, electronic goods and pharmaceuticals has ensured that demand for cargo services has remained strong.

While growth is certainly going to create challenges, Hulsman has no doubt that these obstacles can be met and overcome. He continues to examine any way possible to attract further cargo. For example, he is advising those who do pallet break-downs at the congested Frankfurt-Main gateway to consider trucking to Düsseldorf and doing it there. He already has an arrangement in place with a trucking syndicate, RunAir, which connects many of the bigger German airports with road feeder connections.

Modernisation

As to equipment in the warehouse, cost efficiencies remain paramount but Hulsman has looked to upgrade wherever possible. Thus, for example, last year saw DUS Cargo Logistics switch its entire fleet of forklifts to high-quality, environmentally-friendly Linde equipment. The handler is also hoping to open a new border inspection post by the autumn that will be able to handle products fit for human and non-human consumption.

With its comprehensive range of forklifts and ready access to leased cranes if required, DUS Cargo Logistics is able to handle all types of cargo, he insists. It recently bought new explosive detection equipment and has ordered a second x-ray machine as well, improving its capability to process dangerous goods as well as pharmaceuticals and other specialised shipments.

The future is not going to be without its challenges, but Hulsman and DUS Cargo Logistics will be ready come what may, it seems.