Brussels Airport CEO Arnaud Feist Looks Back and Ahead

It’s been five years since Arnaud Feist joined The Brussels Airport Company as CEO. In a press breakfast meeting he highlighted the evolution of the airport’s business over this period, during which both passengers and cargo have been put back on track.

Arnaud Feist, CEO of The Brussels Airport Company - credit: TBAC
Arnaud Feist, CEO of The Brussels Airport Company - credit: TBAC

In 2014 Brussels Airport gained 7 new airlines, 4 of which in the cargo segment: Ethiopian, Qatar, Yangtze and Kelowna. Arnaud estimates their combined share in the total volume at some 20%. “The efforts we have been putting in the development of this business are paying off, both in terms of volume and customer satisfaction.”

In 2014 the cargo volume rose by 6% to 454,000 tonnes. Looking back to 2009, the year in which Feist took the helm, this evolution could be called ‘stable’, as the volume at that time was 449,000 tonnes. It rose by 6% to 476,000 tonnes in 2010 and more or less the same figure in 2011, but after that decline set in. In 2012 the volume dropped by 3.3% to 459,000 tonnes, followed by a 6.4% drop to 430,000 tonnes in 2013. “This was mainly due to a dramatic decrease in the full-freighter segment,” explains the CEO.

Judging by the figures for 2015 so far, the positive growth trend has been maintained. Over the first 4 months Brussels Airport has handled 161,221 tonnes, a 8.7% growth year-on-year, which is reflected in all segments (full-freighter, integrator and belly).

Steady growth
The 9.6% increase of the traffic of DHL Aviation, during the recession years the largest growth contributor, seems to indicate some stabilisation. In this respect, Arnaud Feist stressed that DHL’s extra tons are all generated during the day, thereby contradicting rumours that the integrator had been granted additional night operations.

For the 10 years ahead the Brussels Airport CEO expects the further growth of the volume (passengers and cargo combined) to be in line with the other European airports, in the region of 2% to 3% a year. A further extension of the Brucargo zone is hampered by the limited availability of space, Arnaud Feist admitted. “Therefore, we prefer to concentrate on the redevelopment of the existing site, which dates back to the 1980s,” he said. “In its present form, there is a big discrepancy between the layout of the buildings and the land surface on which they stand.”

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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