Exclusive - Liege Cargo is Looking Northwards

Air freight volumes at Liege Airports are in the upswing. Presumably, this trend will continue in the years ahead, as traffic data indicate. To prevent jams at the existing facilities and enable the efficient throughput of shipments, the northern area of LGG will be further developed for cargo purposes. Due to a farsighted policy there is ample of space kept in reserve for future need. 


Meadows, grassland, scattered bushes: that’s how the norther side of LGG looks today. This accounts for most plots located there, except for two newly built large warehouse of a total of 20,000 square meters operated by ground handling agents Swissport and Aviapartner. This facility, however, is just a first landmark belonging to a huge area of still unused space located north of the 3,750 meters comprising runway. “We have capabilities for building additional 200,000 square meters of first-line warehousing next to the existing cargo buildings,” LGG’s Cargo & Logistics Manager Bert Selis says.

The northern part of LGG offers ample space for future utilization  -  photos: hs
The northern part of LGG offers ample space for future utilization - photos: hs

Warehouse capacity keeps growing
First steps to make this vision become a reality have been taken. “We are in the process of adding a second 12,000 sqm comprising warehouse to the existing facility in the northern part of our airport, with construction work starting this year,” Bert announces. The planned building will be utilized by local handlers, which are already part of the existing LGG cargo community. Parallel to the development of the northern area the stands of freighters will be upped, from currently 11 to 40 or even 50, depending on demand, Bert told CargoForwarder Global.

 

LGG’s flexible business strategy…
For securing a sustainable and long-term development in cargo, which accounts for almost 90 percent of the financial turnover, the airport management favors a partnership-based approach. This is seen in their pricing policy. For instance, tenants that rent warehouse space pay fees according to the volumes they handle. “It’s a very flexible and attractive model based on a risk-sharing philosophy,” notes Bert. “Little tonnage, little costs for the users, higher throughput, more expenditures.”

Bert Selis of airport  operator LGG (left) and Aviapartner manager Eric Peeters
Bert Selis of airport operator LGG (left) and Aviapartner manager Eric Peeters

… is complemented by Aviapartner’s staffing policy
The attractiveness of this strategy is confirmed by Eric Peeters, Aviapartner’s Deputy Station Manager. His firm has rented a 12,400 sqm warehouse in LGG’s northern edge. “Should our volumes shrink occasionally due to unfavorable market developments we can hardly influence, our costs go down, easing our financial situation despite lower tonnage handled by us,” he illustrates. Conversely, they pay more when the business recovers.
Liege’s flexible strategy is complemented by Aviapartner’s specific personnel policy. Their 110 headcount can cumulate working hours and convert them into spare time or demand remuneration for overtime in case their maximum weekly working time of 38 hours is surpassed. The latter occurs in peak times or at days or weeks with high volumes. “Those, that prefer to stay home to reduce accrued overtime, we can call in case of sudden demand and they show up shortly after,” Eric assures, indirectly lauding this flexible strategy and the cooperative working climate existing within his company.

LGG’s USP: a high loader capable of uplifting shipments weighing 50 tons.
LGG’s USP: a high loader capable of uplifting shipments weighing 50 tons.

Business-friendly environment
Besides the airport management’s flexible pricing policy and his firm’s own staffing strategy, manager Peeters mentions some other big points speaking in favor of Liege. Those are the unrestricted 24/7 operability, the direct motorway connection to the neighboring German industry that contributes significantly to LGG’s total tonnage, or the ‘problem solving mentality’ of the airport’s management, including also the customer-friendly attitude of the local customs officials. “Putting all these aspects into one basket, you get an attractive package that fosters a business-friendly environment,” states Eric.  
At LGG, Aviapartner’s clients are Ethiopian Cargo and El Al Cargo. Combined the account for roughly 120,000 tons per year. While El Al operates ten freighter flights (Boeing 747-400Fs) per week from Liege to New York (JFK) and Tel Aviv, Ethiopian Cargo offers their clients the same number of flights, linking Liege with Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Accra and Lagos by utilizing Triple Seven freighters. 

 

Heiner Siegmund

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