Air Cargo Germany ready for new routes
ACG is common knowledge in the German market, if not the object of some wry comment. “Locally, we refer to Herr Bock as ‘Mikhail,’ rather than ‘Michael,’ because of the Russian influence around him,” said one German forwarder.
ACG is on the cusp of more activity, but it’s had a complicated history.
A new cargo carrier was what the market needed, officials claimed, when Air Cargo Germany launched two years ago. The second German cargo flag carrier was to secure more business in the home market and assert Frankfurt’s pivotal position in Europe.
Lufthansa Cargo would argue both counts. Lufthansa was already fully occupied, fending off a myriad of foreign scavengers at its home base; the further intrusion by one its “own” would not be welcome.
Air Cargo Germany had been wise enough, at least, to stay out of immediate sight of its irritated elder by establishing itself at neighboring Hahn airport. Neighborly enough, that is, to still be able to claim the prefix Frankfurt-Hahn.
The German start-up had also been honest enough to admit that it hit the market at precisely the wrong time. A projected launch for 2008, in the midst of one of the worst global downturns, was pushed back until July 2009.
“By that time there was no turning back. We had acquired our first two aircraft, and we needed to launch to start earning revenue,” Bock said.
ACG had acquired two B747-400SF conversions on lease from Avion Aircraft Trading. Initial service included Shanghai and Hong Kong. Business grew sufficiently for the new airline to acquire two more B747-400 BCF aircraft on lease from Martinair in July and October of last year. This allowed the airline to increase frequencies on its two China routes and also to start service to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Shortly after delivery of the two Martinair freighters, one of the aircraft suffered a mishap when part of its landing gear collapsed at Hong Kong International Airport. It was subsequently discovered that prior to delivery to ACG, the aircraft had undergone a major maintenance check in Europe.
“Air Cargo Germany was able to recover the costs of the repairs from insurance,” said one industry observer. “But this did not account for operational losses whilst the aircraft was out of action for three weeks, which put a severe strain on its resources at the time.”
According to Bock, the incident pushed the airline into a minor loss for 2010 — an outcome not helped by a poor peak season out of China. ACW