A more beautiful declaration of love for the global metropolis could not have been made than that by Walter Cronkite, TV reporter and newsreader of CBS. San Francisco casts its spell on millions of visitor every year. Its major attractions include the Golden Gate Bridge, the prison island of Alcatraz, the houses from the Victorian era and the legendary cable-cars. Part of the harbour has been transformed into an entertainment district; the so-called Fisherman’s Wharf attracts visitors with its cafés, restaurants and a fairground. Tourism is of great economic importance for the city surrounded by water. The strait which got its unmistakable name "Golden Gate" during the time of the great Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, links the Pacific to the West with the Bay of San Francisco in the East. With its perfect location, San Francisco grew to become one of the most important ports in the USA.
But business has also developed dynamically in San Francisco in the last few decades. As a result, Lufthansa Cargo has been present in San Francisco since the end of the seventies. The team of six on the spot handle two flights which come from Frankfurt and Munich daily - in summer as in winter. 125 tons of freight is exported weekly on board Lufthansa passenger aircraft. The freight has changed in the course of time: up to the nineties, mainly products of the semiconductor industry were transported. Today, pharmaceuticals and high-tech products are among the main export goods. From time to time there are also some quite unusual transports, like the technically revolutionary Tesla cars: "Recently we had four cars in the warehouse that only differed in the colour of the paintwork", Joy Banjeree, District Manager of Sales and Handling San Francisco and US Northwest, recalls. "The customer in the Middle East simply wanted one in each colour".
The airfreight industry has also long since also discovered the market. Lufthansa Cargo competes in San Francisco with the U.S. carriers which serve the major EU markets (Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and London) directly. In addition to the fierce competition, the legal regulations represent a further challenge. For example, the minimum wage, which in California is well above the minimum wage level in the USA as a whole. "Of course, this also has an effect on the prices of all service-providers", according to Joy Banerjee. The "golden" times of the most populous federal state, however, appear to be over for the time being: California is bankrupt. The budget deficit is measured in billions. Despite the great crisis, California - in particular, the Bay area - is, and remains, an attractive business location. In the North of the region, extends the Napa Valley, which has become world-famous thanks to its wines. The economic core of the Bay area lies to the South of San Francisco in Silicon Valley. The "Mecca of the high-tech industry", started its development there in 1939: Two graduates of the nearby Stanford University, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, founded their first computer firm, Hewlett-Packard. They thus set a milestone in the history of computer technology: HP was followed by thousands of high-tech companies. Many companies, however, left as quickly as they had come. On the 100-kilometre wide stretch of land, which has around 30 towns, since then there has always been an incomparable start-up atmosphere. Internet giants like Ebay, Yahoo, Google, Apple and Facebook continue to have their established place in the region. For many years, the new Californian gold was to be found in chip production. Semiconductor companies like Intel were the driving force behind the boom. "The Bay area was dominated by the semiconductor industry for a long time. In recent years, however, the production has shifted to Asia", explains Joy Banerjee. Biotechnology, high-tech products and the pharmaceutical industry now dominate the market.
For many Californian freight forwarding agents, San Francisco is only second choice. "Lots of freight from the Greater San Francisco area is transported by road, consolidated in Los Angeles and then delivered to Lufthansa Cargo in Los Angeles", explains Banerjee. Unlike San Francisco, Los Angeles has a very substantial consolidation market. For many agents, transport by truck all over the country to other hubs thus represents a more economical variant. Freight that is not transported elsewhere but flown directly from San Francisco, therefore, is often a little "more special". "The reasons for that are usually decisions made by the forwarders of the transport who do not permit any trucking", explains Banerjee, "For example, pharmaceuticals which are subject to very strict quality controls and official regulations. The controls often take place only a few hours before take-off". As a result there can often be cancellations at short notice. Circumstances to which the San Francisco team must respond flexibly: "The decisive factor, in the final analysis, is close customer contact and prompt communication", emphasizes the District Manager.