Between two giants

Focus on Montevideo  

If you’re not the biggest, you have to be that bit smarter to still play in the big leagues. This is the strategy pursued by Uruguay. Around 1.5 million of its 3.5 million inhabitants live in the capital Montevideo. This city at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata is to become an important hub in South America – not least through Lufthansa Cargo being an airfreight market leader in the region.

Sometimes it depends on how you look at things. After Suriname, Uruguay is the smallest country in South America in terms of landmass. From a geographical perspective, this country on South America’s Atlantic coast is also “hemmed in between” two giants – Brazil and Argentina. “Right in the middle of” is a much better expression. After all, this location is what gives Uruguay its advantage and is why it has been able to noticeably establish itself over the years as a services and distribution hub for both large neighbours. The capital’s airport, Aeropuerto Internacional de Carrasco (MVD), plays a key role in this. And the trends are positive, with the airfreight market in the country growing by six per cent annually.

Lufthansa Cargo noted this momentum and added Montevideo to the schedule back in December 2011 with two weekly MD-11F flights. The freighters also land in Buenos Aires and in Viracopos in Brazil. “The market clearly sees us as the market leader here and cooperates very well with us”, explained station manager Eduardo Gonzalez Guyer. This is due in no small part to Lufthansa’s many years of experience in this city at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata. The company has had a presence in Montevideo since 1954. A six-person team of the “Hansalog” agency organises the cargo business locally. The team members have all learned about the airfreight business from the ground up.

Lufthansa Cargo partners are particularly impressed by the company’s significant cargo capacities. The Customers appreciate how Lufthansa Cargo offers a dedicated MD-11 freighter in Montevideo and not just a belly solution. The leather industry in Montevideo has traditionally been one of the largest consignors of airfreight there. While Uruguay has long exported leather clothing principally, it now supplies leather to the automotive industry as well. It’s not unusual for automakers to cover carseats with leather from Uruguay. Horses, fruit and beef are also increasingly shipped by air from the country. Around 80 per cent of the cargo comes from regional forwarders, while 20 per cent is sent on its way by large global logistics service providers. The reverse is the case with imports. Montevideo’s good international maritime and land links is another reason why industrial, trading and service companies with a global focus choose to locate there.

Transport volumes for the already strong pharmaceuticals industry should grow in the future. Lufthansa Cargo offers regular temperature- controlled transports for this business at present. Station manager Gonzalez also believes that Uruguay’s very pro-investor economic policy means the outlook is good: “The country has established an open-door policy for new economic projects that offer increased growth prospects on both sides of the Rio de la Plata.” In addition to this, Montevideo is home to the headquarters of the Mercosur, the South American trading bloc which also includes Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Paraguay. So everything points to Montevideo establishing itself as an important hub in an emerging continent.