The top runway for tourists with time to spare and freight that's in a hurry
"Your holiday starts here“ - with this slogan, Magdeburg-Cochstedt Airport is for those travellers for whom flying from a big airport simply means stress.
"You slow down even on your approach to the airport," laughs Director Uwe Hädicke, highlighting the airport's location in the middle of the countryside as a positive unique selling point. The short distances here are also of interest to big partners like Ryanair - as well as for regional companies with urgent freight, who can find the best logistics conditions here. The operators of Cochstedt airport see considerable future potential in the transportation of air freight.
A young family with children is sitting in the bistro of Magdeburg-Cochstedt airport. Outside, on the visitors' terrace, two older couples sit drinking coffee. They are watching a red propeller plane take off. It gathers speed with a loud din and the guests tilt their heads back and watch it take to the air. Things quieten down again and the noise of nearby grazing sheep can be heard. Their fields are replete with golden dandelions. International air traffic surrounded by unspoilt nature - something you are unlikely to find at any other airport in Germany.
"Most of the passengers here really value the advantages offered by our small airport," says Director Uwe Hädicke, who explains how the airport has repeat customers thanks to its ease of use. Guests can also be certain of getting a personal level of service as required. The planes have even been known to wait for a few minutes to take on passengers who have been delayed. And when take-offs are delayed, staff have been pleased to give guests a tour of the airport fire department facilities.
The short distances in Cochstedt aren't only a relief to the passengers. They have also been key for the continuation of the partnership with airline Ryanair. The Director goes on to explain how the airport treats its airlines equally courteously as it does its passengers. "This ensures a special level of trust in our business partnerships." Ryanair planes currently fly to Barcelona and Palma de Majorca on a weekly basis. "To keep their prices low, the low cost carriers in particular require a short time frame between landing and taking off - 25 minutes at the most," explains Uwe Hädicke. "At the big airports a plane may spend ten minutes on a huge terminal strip alone."
Magdeburg-Cochstedt International Airport began its passenger flight operations at the start of 2011. Danish firm Airport Development A/S purchased the company one year previously, with high hopes invested in their venture ever since: the airport's journey from military airstrip which opened in 1957 to a public airport has been one of ups and downs with more than one disappointment.
The Director talks of how he feels he is viewed positively and supported in terms of his current post. The 42 year old grew up in the town of Nehardenberg near Berlin although his father actually comes from nearby Nienburg an der Saale. He had moved to Neuhardenberg in his job as a fighter pilot in the East German military. And the local airport there is also owned by the same company that operates Chochstedt airport - Airport Development A/S. Having a Director to hand in Neuhardenberg with local roots was simply a stroke of luck. Uwe Hädicke also sees the fact that the airport is so popular amongst the population and local politicians, at both the local and state level, as being very positive.
Cochstedt Airport now employs 61 local people - thanks to the entrepreneurial ideas which Danish firm Airport Development A/S and Uwe Hädicke and his team have been developing and turning into a reality. This includes the founding of their own airline, 'CSO City Fly', a brand which now offers business flights on working days to and from Munich. "And it's proving a huge success with regional companies," explains Hädicke. At the end of May the offering is being extended, and CSO CITY FLY will be flying to the Swiss city of Bern.
Cochstedt airport has also established its own Airport travel centre, entering into a collaboration with the Geschwand-based firm SchmetterlingReisen. More than 2,500 travel centres are cooperating in Germany under this umbrella brand alone. "This means we can offer a full service, from flights to holidays to the time spent at the resort, and we are also included in the catalogues of other tour operators."
He gives us a tour of the airport. Standing on the terrace, he points to an area beyond the runway: "There will still be plenty of space left for the natural scenery by the time we've finished constructing two halls over there at the end of the year.” He is talking about a Cargo Centre. The basis for all plans is an assessment by the Institute for Logistics and Material Flow Technology (ILM) at Otto-von-Guericke-University, Magdeburg. The institute has certified that the airport offers good conditions for increasing its freight traffic: its connections to the local motorways and dual carriageways, the possibility it offers for 24 hour operations, its suitability for all types of aeroplane - and last but not least, its 85 hectares of space for providers of logistics services. And not to mention the short distances, which are also a big advantage.
The ILM has also drawn up a list of 100 companies which could benefit from the cargo centre, whether it is with the transportation of perishable foodstuffs, of live animals or of highly sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals and vital organs.
To find the best possible solutions for specific questions on air freight the airport has also hired a professional logistics services provider: the company Trend Consult LTD from Essen.
Together they want Cochstedt to prove that a relaxed environment and high levels of efficiency and speed aren't mutually exclusive.
Author: Kathrain Graubaum
Director, Flughafengesellschaft Magdeburg/Cochstedt mbH
ph: +49 39267 606-0