The Berlin logistics company Zeitfracht has grabbed parts of Air Berlin, the Cologne-based WDL Aviation and is also interested in Skywork Airlines. Head Wolfram Simon about his group’s plans.
Zeitfracht was hardly known in aviation until now. Why are you investing so heavily in this industry now?
Wolfram Simon*: In fact, until eight weeks ago, we were known only to a few experts in the logistics sector. They knew us as co-founders and managers of DPD in Berlin. Already during our work at DPD, we discussed the necessities, opportunities and risks of a European express network for small packages.
As you know, the aviation industry is not an easy place to be. Why do you believe in success?
The logistics industry is very competitive and challenging. For more than 70 years, Zeitfracht has embodied entrepreneurial success through innovative, courageous and well-balanced decisions like hardly any other logistics service provider. We are sure that with the right cargo concept, we can operate successfully.
You would have liked to have taken over Air Berlin as a whole. Wouldn’t that have been a huge chunk for Zeitfracht as a medium-sized company?
When we entered the Air Berlin bidding process at the beginning of September 2017, we did indeed look at the company as a whole. At this point before an in-depth audit, we have already indicated that we would need partners for the passenger business. In the course of our evaluation of the figures, data and facts as well as the other serious interested parties, we then concentrated commercially carefully on the possible and feasible.
Instead, you took over Air Berlin Technik (together with maintenance company Nayak) and Air Berlin Leisure Cargo, as well as WDL Aviation. What are you planning to do?
At Air Berlin, concentrating on what was possible and feasible was appropriate and worked very well. Especially if you consider the acquisition of WDL Aviation. Our preferred approach is to be able to offer our services from our own resources, with our specialists and our machines. This guarantees us independence and fair conditions for our customers.
Together with Nayak, you were also interested in Skywork – a small regional airline. Why, so far, did you focus on the freight business?
For the freight business with small parcels, for example as additional cargo, the machines with capacities that can transport a payload of around ten tonnes of freight, particularly in the general cargo and parcel sectors, are of economic interest for the freight business with small parcels.
Skywork has procured a bank account. You wanted to get involved as an investor. Are you disappointed?
We are in intensive discussions with Skywork and are discussing long-term solutions for the airline.
Could you imagine entering the passenger business more generally?
With the acquisition of WDL Aviation, we have already entered the passenger business and want to and will use our know-how to professionalize and more efficiently manage the side freight and transport services there.
* Wolfram Simon (37) is a trained banker. He joined the Berlin-based Zeitfracht Group in 2009 and has been managing director since 2016. Zeitfracht is active in the fields of freight forwarding, transport and logistics, real estate, technology and planning. With around 950 employees, it generates an annual turnover of around 220 million euros.