Exclusive – Yangtze River Express to Operate Through Brussels

Brussels Airport’s Head of Cargo, Steven Polmans announced today that the Chinese all cargo carrier, Yangtze River Express will with effect from 29. March operate three times weekly through Brussels on their round the world freighter service.

Yantze River Express operates Boeing 747-400Fs on routes to and from Europe  /  source: hs
Yantze River Express operates Boeing 747-400Fs on routes to and from Europe / source: hs

The carrier has its main base in Shanghai and operates a mixed freighter fleet of 24 aircraft consisting of 3 Boeing 747-400Fs, 1 Airbus A330-200F and up to 20 Boeing 737Fs.
These aircraft are used on international and inner-China sectors.
The planned routing, using the Boeing 747F, is Shanghai to Chicago. From there to Brussels, onto Munich and back to China.
Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo at BRU airport states that although space on the flights will be shared, that he expects more import than export and an additional 15,000 tons per year through BRU airport.

Successful acquisitions
Brussels has been very active in acquiring new all cargo customers to its airport during the past months.
This started with Qatar Airways last October and then the start of Ethiopian Airways flights in January of this year. That was followed by last week’s information that Kelowna, a Canadian based all cargo airline would start services from Toronto to Brussels as of May this year using DC-10-30 freighters (CFG reported exclusively).
DHL had previously announced that they were to invest again in BRU with new cargo handling facilities.

All in all, it seems that 2014 has really got off to a flying start for Steve Polmans and his team.

Will this then mean fewer flights for Hahn?
Yangtze River Express has been an important customer at Hahn for a few years and presently operates up to seven weekly flights into the airport located between Frankfurt and Cologne.
A loss of Yangtze River Express flights on top of the Air China Cargo withdrawal from Hahn earlier this year would leave a large hole in Hahn’s cargo handling arena.

CargoForwarder Global’s information from Hahn is that they are not aware of any plans for Yangtze to withdraw partly or wholly from the airport.
The present flight pattern is routed through Amsterdam and Hahn and onto China.
So are these extra flights which Yangtze is putting into the market alongside the daily operation which already exists?

It seems hard to imagine that the Shanghai-based carrier will operate through three airports so close to each other - namely, Hahn, Brussels and Amsterdam, as well as adding Munich to the list.
Let’s wait and see!

One-stop shopping approach
Steven Polmans and his team are rightly proud of their success of the past months.
He informed CargoForwarder Global that “since a few years as Brussels airport’s cargo department we have not just only promoted our airport as cargo destination, but are truly managing the cargo zone.”
He went on to say that by this he means their intensive discussions with all stakeholders in order to give a one-stop shopping approach, to ensure that there is a real estate strategy to support cargo needs and expectations as well as the implementation of new handling features.
These have in his words now started to pay off full time.
The cream on top of the cake was the recent IATA CEIV Pharma Certification at BRU.
This, we hear, will be taken a step further in the near future.

John Mc Donagh

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