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German State Offers ACG Help

Rhineland-Palatinate is keen to save Air Cargo Germany from becoming bankrupt. The local government offered the carrier a bank guaranty. Here are the facts.

ground its four aircraft comprising fleet of Boeing 747-400 freighters on the 18th of April. For some time the carrier has already been in the red despite cash injections by its Russian shareholder Volga Dnepr (49%) and its line-haul arm AirBridge Cargo. ACG’s funds did not suffice to ensure an ongoing problem-free processing of operations, argued the regulator as result of a financial audit.

Since then, three of ACG’s jumbo freighters are sidelined at Frankfurt Rhine-Main airport with the other Boeing -47F undergoing overhaul, says the airline. However, unconfirmed sources claim that the freighter had been returned to the lessor, presumably Martinair.

In view of ACG’s precarious situation the state of Rhineland-Palatinate offered the airline a liable bank guarantee amounting to five million euros. "We are willing to help and give guarantees," confirmed the state’s Transport Minister Roger Lewentz during his Parliament’s constitutive sitting - providing that ACG does its homework and submits its balance sheet, Lewentz added.

The politician’s offer didn’t come out of the blue since ACG’s is headquartered at Hahn airport, located in Rhineland-Palatinate. If the carrier bit the dust, the airport would lose a major client. This would lead to a considerable loss of prestige and create a major financial debacle for Lewentz and his local government since the airport is also highly subsidized.

But it’s an irony of history that ACG, until the carrier’s grounding two weeks ago, was hardly utilizing Hahn for its operations any more. Since partnering with Russian AirBridge Cargo a year ago, Air Cargo Germany operated most of its flights in and out of neighboring Rhine-Main airport, to enable fast transits of shipments from ABC’s freighters to ACG’s own fleet. Hence, the bank guaranty for getting the carrier back into the air wouldn’t return lost cargo business to Rhineland-Palatinate’s Hahn airport, but it might help the airline(s) for the short term.

Authors: HEINER SIEGMUND, Hamburg / JOHN McDONAGH, Frankfurt

(Cargo Forwarder vom 02.05.2013)