Thanks to a range of innovative projects and increasing cargo activity, award winning Athens International Airport shows once again an end of year increase in cargo throughput. A final tonnage of 120,000 tons represents a four percent advance over 2005 and even surpasses the highest ever tonnage of 2004, the year of the Olympics.
There has been a sharp focus on specialist freighter movements which includes not only various ad hoc traffic during the year, but also regular scheduled B747 flights by British Airways, the new Spanish airline Flyant, operating a weekly B737, as well as the start up of a new Athens based freighter operation, Sky Express using a B747-200. The launch of a new Sea-Air service has already begun to show results with several shipments of textiles from Jordan and Israel, benefiting from the fast port to airport transfer with immediate onward connections to US destinations. AIA was also host to the annual Freighters Conference as well as winner of the prestigious Cargo Airport of the Year award.
The creation of a cargo community committee which represents all players in the cargo chain has helped drive the cargo traffic. The introduction of a quality control programme is aimed at establishing useful and practical standards throughout the handling process and then adhering to the benchmarks ’ Key performance Indicators (KPIs). The first phase of this programme, setting the standards, is well under way with all four handlers involved.
George Effentakis of the airports cargo department manages the project and is carefully monitoring progress. ‘Bearing in mind that this is a fairly revolutionary task for handling companies, it is going well with everyone cooperating. We seem to be one of the few airports within Europe to introduce this system and believe that it will eventually establish high quality operating standards, a culture to which we are totally committed. At present we monitor import cargo flows from arrival of aircraft to parking, to terminal, and final delivery into the hands of the customer. We also measure the flow of documents. We conduct random visits to all sites which assures genuine and spontaneous results. We are currently seeing an average time of two hours for the whole process. We hope to be ready for phase two early in 2007 which will help us prove the quality of our cargo operation and add another reason for shippers to transit here.’