The Belgian gateways Brussels Zaventem and Liege Bierset enjoyed strong cargo growth last year. While BRU reports 5.6 percent tonnage increase, LGG’s throughput went up 5.3 percent year-on-year. In contrast, cargo at Ostend-Bruges shrunk significantly.
At BRU 453,954 tons were handled in 2014, while LGG reports 590,579 tons that have been loaded or unloaded during the last twelve months. Together, both locations account for well over one million tons, showing the importance of BRU and LGG for the air freight business.
Contradictory developments of BRU’s cargo biz
By taking a closer look at the figures, some interesting details are revealed: As to BRU, they saw a sharp decrease in tonnage transported by freighter aircraft (-21.8%). However, the airport managed to more than compensate this decline by steeply upping the volumes flown on board of integrators (+30.3%) and a tonnage increase of 11 percentage points transported in the holds of passenger aircraft.
In his welcome speech at BRU’s airport community’s New Year’s party CEO Arnaud Feist praised his airport’s 2014 cargo figures, emphasizing that the 5.6 percent increase in tonnage prove that Zaventem outgrew most other European airports in 2014. BRU’s helmsman went on to say: “There are two main reasons for air cargo to be handled preferably at major airports. The first one is belly-cargo, which is essential for the profitability of airlines. Secondly, there are the full freighters, which are complementary but also of major importance to the belly freight as they attract the freight forwarders.”
Increasing importance as hub for the Star Alliance
Feist also lauded the strong growth of passenger numbers, totaling 21,933,190 travelers (+14.6% on 2013). The helmsman indicated that all passenger segments contributed to the increase, with home carrier Brussels Airlines, LCC airlines, Vueling or Ryanair and intercontinental traffic in particular performing strongly. Of specific importance was the strong performance of transfer traffic that leapt more than 20 percent in 2014, cementing BRU’s role as valuable gateway for the Star Alliance.
In cargo, Liege remains at the pole
Similar to Brussels Zaventem its national rival Liege Bierset Airport also presented inspiring figures, at least in the cargo segment. By handling 590,579 tons in 2014 (+5.3%), LGG strengthened its role as Belgium’s number one hub for air freight throughput.
In a release the LGG management points out that all cargo airlines serving Bierset Airport have contributed to the cargo upswing, namely TNT Airways, Ethiopian Cargo or Israel’s CAL. The decision of ANA Airline Management taken last May to base its cargo fleet in Liege has also contributed to the positive result, emphasizes the LGG management. What they don’t mention is that most of the consignments originated in nearby North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and were trucked to Liege because of the geographical proximity and the Walloon airport’s 24/7 operational hours.
CAL fills the Cyprus Airways leak
And there is more good news. As CAL announced last Thursday, it started operating two weekly cargo flights out of Liege to Larnaca, which then continue to Tel Aviv, replacing the air freight biz of insolvent Cyprus Airways whom CAL used to partner with. Operated on the route LGG-LCA is a Boeing 747-400F.
Turning to 2015 Liege indicates plans to enhance the infrastructure. This includes the intended enlargement of the pharma facility and the construction of a new reception center for horses. The latter, because LGG claims being the European number one in horse transportation by air with more than 3,000 horses having passed the airport’s gates in 2014.
While BRU and LGG are quite content with their annual results, this cannot be said for Ostend-Bruges Airport (OST). It’s cargo throughput dropped by 46.5 percent totaling a mere 24,885 tons. This sharp decrease was entirely due to the exit of ANA Aviation, which swopped Ostend for Liege last May.
Heiner Siegmund / with contribution from Marcel Schoeters