BRU Cargo’s Strategy Pays Off

Brussels Airport has handled 223,310 tonnes of flown cargo in the first half of 2014, an increase of 6.0 percent. The growth was generated in all segments except regular full freighter traffic.

BRU Airport’s Head of Cargo Steven Polmans expects additional freighters serving Zeventem soon.  Source/ Steven Polmans
BRU Airport’s Head of Cargo Steven Polmans expects additional freighters serving Zeventem soon. Source/ Steven Polmans

Those are encouraging figures delivered by Brussels Airport Cargo. According to data, air freight transported in the holds of passenger aircraft from the beginning of January till the end of June 2014 leapt to 70,336 tons – up 11.5 percent year-on-year. Particularly noteworthy is the 31.1 percent increase reported by DHL Express, totalling 91,147 tonnes. However, regular full freighter volumes declined by 20.8 percent, accounting only for 61,826 tons.

These encouraging overall figures “are the result of our strategy implemented a few years ago, where we put our focus much more on the logistical chain from beginning to end and not so much on attracting airlines and flights in our role as an airport operator,” explains Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo at BRU Airport Cargo. This results in stronger relationships with the forwarding agents, better and deepened knowledge of their needs and requirements, including joint promotions to strengthen the operations at Brussels International.

Steven goes on to say that even in the past few years in which cargo volumes had been under severe pressure this supply chain focused strategy paid off, as proven by the remarkable performance shown with figures delivered by Brussels Airport. “In 2012 our flown volumes hardly declined, and last year we lost some volumes on the flown sector, but we saw a recovery of trucking to and from BRU.” 

According to data, the lost volumes are the result of a decline in transit cargo, whereas local tonnage saw little changes. Since October last year the situation improved remarkably, showing a strong recovery of the flown segment again.

The manager says that the global trends in air freight are also felt at Brussels International with belly hold cargo outgrowing main deck capacity. But Steven remains optimistic: “Also concerning the all-cargo segment, we feel being on the right track.” Thanks to some new operators that intend coming to Brussels he expects a recovery of freighter flights in the near future and hence the upping of volumes.  

“But for us as an airport, the most important attention we have to pay is the strengthening of the logistical flows at our site,” by cooperating even closer with forwarding agents, putting the focus on sensitive products like perishables and pharmaceuticals, and offer the market flexible operations. If combined with additional capacity offered by carriers at BRU airport, “it is of secondary importance whether this is lower or main deck capacity or if the main deck offering comes from traditional cargo carriers or the integrators.” The availability of these different modes of transport is key for forwarding agents to chose Brussels Airport for processing their international shipments.

Marcel Schoeters / Heiner Siegmund

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