Leipzig/Halle Airport: Multimodal hub for flows of goods between Asia and Europe

Photo: Leipzig/Halle Airport, Uwe Schossig

Leipzig/Halle Airport is Europe’s fifth-largest cargo hub and a dynamically growing handling site for all kinds of air freight; it is a central element in the air traffic infrastructure in the Federal Republic of Germany and is an engine for growth in the logistics and business region of Central Germany. With over 8,600 employees in more than 100 companies and public authorities based at the site, the airport acts as a driving force for development with important economic significance; and it also offers its users planning and investment reliability in the long term.

Asia and China in particular are important growth markets for Leipzig/Halle Airport and its customers. As an intermodal hub for flows of goods to and from Europe, the site, which is directly linked to the trans-European road and rail networks in a north-south and east-west direction, provides ideal conditions for companies related to the air freight and logistics sectors. They include a 24-hour operating permit for cargo flights and a freight handling station, which is linked to maritime ports by daily freight trains. It is also possible to reach 15 different European countries from Leipzig/Halle by truck in just eight hours. They include the emerging economies in Eastern Europe. Markets with dynamic levels of growth like Poland or the Czech Republic or Hungary can be reached very easily by motorway, not least thanks to their geographical proximity.

On average, as many as 120 flights per week connecting Leipzig/Halle Airport and about 20 destinations in Asia operate at the moment. They include Shanghai Pudong, Hong Kong, Zhengzhou as well as Bangkok, Tokyo Narita, Delhi, Seoul Incheon, Singapore, Bahrain and Dubai. More than half the weekly flights to Asia operate to and from China. Leipzig/Halle also has cooperation arrangements with well-known partners like the Shenzhen Airport Group, the Shanghai Airport Authority or Kansai International Airport in Japan or the Henan Province Airport Group in China. 

Leipzig/Halle Airport also signed a memorandum of understanding on future cooperation with the Hubei Provincial Communications Investment Group, the largest state company in the Province of Hubei, and SF Express, a leading private express logistics firm in China, last year. The planned cooperation covers an intense exchange of experiences in planning, constructing and operating a cargo airport and a strategic partnership in the fields of international air freight and logistics services as well as an exchange of personnel. Leipzig/Halle Airport is also due to play a key role in future flows of goods from the Province of Hubei.

Mitteldeutsche Flughafen AG is also involved in the German-Chinese Business Association (DCW), which has been supporting bilateral relations between Germany and China for more than 30 years. The founding of a DCW Central German region in 2017 established or extended a network, which is boosting the exchange and cooperation between the German and Chinese economies.

Express traffic, freight charter business and logistics services


With the central hub for DHL, Leipzig/Halle is one of the most important handling sites for express freight in Europe. DHL has invested EUR 655 million in the construction and expansion of its facilities there. Its volumes of freight have been continuing to grow for years, not least because of the dynamic developments in the field of e-commerce.
The freight charter segment is also developing in a very striking manner, particularly with a view to the e-commerce sector and heavy and oversized shipments; the airport and its partners have special expertise in handling the latter in a professional manner. The aim is to also push ahead with the positive development of the freight charter business. This is possible because of the implementation of the coalition agreement signed by the German government, which states that it intends to significantly reduce the time required for permits for incoming and outgoing ad-hoc charter flights in order to dismantle competitive disadvantages over other EU countries.

Customers at the airport are able to gain access to many different services in the fields of logistics, air freight handling and aircraft ground handling from one source through PortGround, an affiliated company of Leipzig/Halle Airport – and they cover the complete delivery chain. This company also operates a refrigerated warehouse at the World Cargo Center, which has direct access to the apron area. The facility can absorb complete aircraft loads in three different refrigerated zones. It opened last year and also obtained certification for the warehouse space in line with the European “Good Distribution Practice” (GDP) guidelines. IATA “CEIV” certification is also being pursued and this includes the complete supply chain for transporting high-value pharmaceutical products.
PortGround is also certified as a Regulated Agent and an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO).

Leipzig/Halle Airport: 24/7 operations for cargo flights, direct links to the trans-European road and railway networks, space and capacity reserves and extensive logistics services from one source


Leipzig/Halle Airport is Europe’s fifth-largest air cargo hub; the amounts handled totalled 1.14 million tonnes in 2017. Freight volumes have been growing at the airport for 12 years in succession and significant growth has been recorded this year too. The air freight handled during the first six months amounted to 606,491 tonnes, a figure 12.1 percent higher than in the previous year, and this trend is likely to continue.

More than 50 cargo airlines regularly use the airport during the year and fly to more than 270 destinations worldwide.

The main growth driver at the airport is DHL. The company has been operating its European hub at Leipzig/Halle Airport since 2008. The airport is also the home base for AeroLogic, a joint venture between DHL Express and Lufthansa Cargo.

Leipzig/Halle Airport is also an important site for the Russian Volga-Dnepr Group. Firstly, Antonov 124 aircraft, the largest series-produced cargo plane in the world, are based there; secondly, the airport is the headquarters of a subsidiary, Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Services GmbH (AMTES GmbH), which has a maintenance base for Antonov 124 and Western aircraft at the site. Regular freight charter services exist and Air Bridge Cargo, which is also part of the Volga-Dnepr Group, operates scheduled services.
Antonov Airlines is also active at the Central German airport and performs regular transport services with its AN 124 aircraft and the AN 225, the largest plane in the world.  

Space and capacity reserves


There are several hundred hectares of building land at and near the airport and building permission already exists for some parts; this offers ideal general conditions and long-term planning and investment reliability for companies closely related to the air traffic and logistics sectors. These development opportunities are a huge benefit at the site and are particularly important in terms of international competition.

This contribution was made in cooperation with Flughafen Leipzig/Halle GmbH.

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