New Qatar Cargo Flights Boost Optimism at Liege Airport

After only a few weeks into 2016 Liege Airport can already boast additional frequencies to Los Angeles as well as new Dallas flights. Both are introduced by Qatar Cargo. So optimism prevails at the Belgian airport, even if a lot of uncertainty remains about the eventual impact of the FedEx/TNT merger.

TNT Aircraft lined up at Liege Airport, a ‘great location’ according to FedEx  -  courtesy TNT
TNT Aircraft lined up at Liege Airport, a ‘great location’ according to FedEx - courtesy TNT

QR is an important client for LGG, says the airport management through its Head of Communication Christian Delcourt. “The airline represents an important part of our tonnage, both on the import and on the export side. Its percentage has been in constant evolution since the start of operations. Qatar has gradually added new destinations (in and out) and added capacity based on increased demand. They have done this either by adding frequencies or by deploying new aircraft types. Of all the growth-generating airlines at LGG, Qatar is the best performer.”

On-going increase of destinations served
The new Dallas flights will reinforce the U.S. network of the airport, says LGG. “The new flights are very important to us, since they increase their capacity to the US. This confirms the ambition of QR to develop their all-cargo operation even more. The Dallas flights are a nice complement to the North-American network ex LGG, which is already directly connected to Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, New York, Chicago and Mexico City. It also demonstrates that the evolution in increasing the destinations served form LGG is still going on.”

After a splendid 2015, which brought an increase of 10 percent in transported volume, 2016 seems to look bright as well. Liege Airport is looking forward to the inauguration of its new equestrian centre, in time for the transport of race horses for the Rio Olympics in August. In the third quarter a brand new cargo centre will become operational.

Life after FedEx/TNT merger
Further into the future, a lot will depend of the role Liege Airport will be allowed to play when the take-over of TNT and FedEx will really take off. One of the consequences of the merger is the sale of TNT Airways, as it will cease to be a European airline. The same question arose when the merger of TNT and UPS was proposed and at that time ASL Aviation was named as a contender for the TNT Airways operation.

What will become of TNT Airways?
Asked about a possible renewal of their interest, the company prefers not to comment. A take-over by ASL would in some way keep TNT Airways in Belgian hands, as the Antwerp-based shipping group CMB controls 51% of the ASL shares. The remaining 49% are owned by 3P Air Freighters Ltd., an aircraft leasing company headquartered in Dublin. This participation is sponsored by the Private Equity section of Petercam S.A./N.V., a leading Brussels-based independent financial group.

Asked by CargoForwarder Global, FedEx has commented: “Once approved, the acquisition of TNT Express will broaden our portfolio of solutions to take advantage of market trends, including our global e-commerce capabilities. Because we anticipate significant growth from this transaction, we expect team members of FedEx and TNT Express to experience more opportunities than either company could have provided separately. TNT’s Liège hub is a great location with a great workforce and will be a valuable addition to our existing network. The details of how our operations will work together will be determined through the integration planning process.”

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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