EASTERN EUROPE AIR CARGO SUPPLEMENT~ Vienna confident despite slower growth

Cargo growth at Vienna airport slowed to 2.6 per cent in 2007 – a contrast to the double digit growth it saw in 2005 and 2006 – but the airport remains confident that it will remain the key air freight hub for Eastern Europe, beating off challenges from rivals further east.

Markus Klaushofer, director of aviation marketing and business development at Vienna, is expecting 2008 to be another year of slower growth, but says things should pick up thereafter.

“We are in contact with at least one Middle Eastern and one Asian freighter carrier looking at sending their freighters to Vienna,” he insists. “There are no firm decisions yet, but services could start as early as the summer schedule.”

Success : Geography and Asian carriers Vienna’s geographical position has made it a natural consolidation point for Eastern Europe ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain, and its recent success has been built on Asian carriers such as Korean Air Cargo and Asiana flying freighters there to supply Korean electronics and automotive factories in neighbouring Slovakia and Hungary.

Korean still operates as many as 14 times a week to Vienna, with Asiana calling six times a week, and Emirates has a weekly B747-200F. But EVA Air pulled its twice weekly MD-11F service to the airport in October, apparently due to a temporary shortage of capacity. Klaushofer admits there is yet no indication of when the service might resume.

Forwarders continue to express confidence in Vienna as an Eastern European hub, however, many of the big names have either Eastern Europe or SouTheastern European headquarters there, and Kuehne + Nagel recently made Vienna the headquarters of its entire Eastern European and Russian business.