Exclusive - Happy Days Again for Ostend Airport?

The International Airport Ostend Bruges has set up a cargo cooperation platform with private and public partners to act as a commercial vehicle to attract new business. Perishables and e-commerce top the list of prospective niches.

Ostende Airport’s future seems to look brighter again  -  company courtesy
Ostende Airport’s future seems to look brighter again - company courtesy

´The creation of the ‘Cargo Cooperation International Airport Ostend Bruges’ was triggered by the recent acquisition of fuel provider Skytanking by Russian Tafnet. Skytanking held a monopoly in aircraft fuel at the airport. Its price was so exorbitant that it chased Ana Aviation away in 2013 from Ostend to resettle at Liege Airport.

The Provinciale Ontwikkelings Maatschappij (POM) West-Vlaanderen, a vehicle of the province of West-Flanders, acted as a matchmaker between airport operator Egis and the other partners. The platform has attracted shippers like Marine Harvest, Gadus and Neptunus, all major players in the fresh fish industry. 

Fish
The freight forwarding partners are Tulpin, Reemco, Bolloré Logistics, Cilogis, De Ridder-Van Paemel end Chapman-Freeborn. Apart from Egis there are also Aviapartner, Tatneft, EHS en Mainfreight (the former Wim Bosman Logistics Group). Two fish market operators, ‘Vlaamse Visveiling’ and REO-Veiling have also joined the platform. Last but not least, there are the local Chamber of Commerce (VOKA), Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT), Fresh Trade Belgium and the seaports of Ostend and Zeebrugge.

The presence of fresh fish importers and distributors makes clear that perishables like fish, but also vegetables, flowers and fruit are considered an important market. The airport itself can boast dedicated handling facilities and claims a strong value proposition in this niche. At a later stage, possibilities of synergy with the seaports will be explored. Zeebrugge, for one, has a long-standing expertise as fish and seafood logistics port.

E-Commerce
Ostend Airport also wants to participate in the booming e-commerce traffic. The airport has the necessary industrial estates to cope with this growth and is excellently located for fast on-forwarding to Northern-France and the UK.

First of all ‘Cargo Cooperation International Airport Ostend Bruges’ is to be developed as a commercial platform, enabling the airport to go back to its ‘golden age’ of 2005-2007. In those days over 100,000 tonnes were handled each year. Last year, only 16,842 tonnes had remained. Over the first 4 months of this year, the throughput has grown by 84% to nearly 40,000 tonnes.

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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