On 15 January Ethiopian Cargo (ET) will introduce 4 weekly flights between Addis Abeba and Brussels Airport. The Addis Ababa operation is a comeback for the carrier, strengthening once again the Belgian airport as an air cargo gateway to and from Africa.
Originally Ethiopian served the Belgian market and the surrounding catchment area from Ostend Airport. In 2004 the carrier relocated to Brussels Airport. In 2008 another move brought the company
to Liege Airport. A request by Ethiopian Cargo in 2013 to fly the route Addis Ababa-Dubai-Liege-Hong Kong was turned down by the Belgian civil aviation authority DGLV/DGTA. This decision was
apparently motivated by protests from TNT, which more or less served the same route form LGG. A temporary solution was found in relocating the flights as a charter operation to Brussels Airport,
organised by DHL brokerage subsidiary Starbroker. This operation too, was halted by DGLV/DGTA.
Currently, ET Cargo serves Liege airport in the Belgian Walloon province nine times per week. Local observers point out that an expansion of flights at LGG seems to be in the pipeline.
However, by opening the route Addis-Brussels-Addis, Ethiopian will certainly enhance the position of Brussels Airport as an African air cargo gateway. “From the Ethiopian capital the rest of the company’s African network will be served, even if the bulk of the volume will be DHL-related”, says Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo at BRU. The routes will be served by Ethiopian’s new Boeing 777 freighters.
Qatar Cargo keeps expanding
Another carrier reinforcing the Brussels’ Africa volume is Qatar Cargo, which introduced the route Doha-Lagos-Accra-Brussels last December, adding 2 flights to its weekly schedule. Qatar Airways started flying cargo to Brussels on 1 October, initially with 4 flights a week. At the end of this month another 2 weekly flights will be added.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels