Liege Airport Strengthens its Position in Cargo

At the Walloon airport, 660,000 tons of cargo were handled last year. This represents a 1.7 percent increase y-o-y, cementing LGG’s position as 8th largest air freight hub in Europe. And the steady upswing is likely to continue, the LGG managers estimate.

Ethiopian Cargo belongs to the major clients of LGG, seen here is a Boeing 777F  -  photos: hs
Ethiopian Cargo belongs to the major clients of LGG, seen here is a Boeing 777F - photos: hs

The 2016 freight throughput now tabled by LGG is the second best result in the airport’s history, surpassed only by 14,500 additional tons transited through the gates back in 2011. Despite the rather modest volume increase, LGG’s Managing Director Luc Partoune is content with his airport’s evident development: “There has been sustained business growth for all our companies with significant increases for CAL, El Al and Qatar Airways,” explains Luc. “In a transition phase following the buyout by Fedex, TNT continues to perform well and remains our most important client,” the executive declared.

From mining to aviation
Next to TNT ranks LGG’s most loyal and longest-time customer Israeli company CAL, followed by Ethiopian Cargo, Qatar Cargo, El Al Cargo and Icelandair Cargo. Interestingly, both CAL and TNT served Cologne-Bonn in the 90’s of last century. However, attracted by Liege’s strategy to focus on air freight in general and on the express business specifically, they decided to relocate their operation from CGN to LGG. This was much to the delight of the Walloon government and the population of the Bierset region at that time whose jobs were increasingly threatened by the inexorable decline of the once very strong local coal and mine industry in the Francophone region of Belgium.
When looking back today it can be said that the Walloon government’s farsighted strategy paid off, proven by the annual rise in cargo figures and the many jobs that resulted from the decision.

LGG manager Bert Selis
LGG manager Bert Selis

The shift led to improved employment conditions
Jobs have not even been at stake by the integration of TNT in FedEx, which caused the sale of the TNT operated freighter fleet to the Dublin-based cargo specialist ASL Aviation Group. The only visible change is the rebranding of the aircraft that are now flying in ASL colours instead of displaying the traditional orange shown on the hulls of TNT aircraft. The shift from TNT to ASL has had no effect on operational issues at Liege Airport since ASL has taken over the routes formerly served by TNT, states Bert Selis, LGG’s Cargo and Logistics Manager. 
Asked about his 2017 cargo expectations, Bert presumes this year to be at least as good as 2016 was, most likely even better. “We are building a new cargo terminal comprising 6,000 square meters in the northern part of our airport,” the manager states.
Through the €4 million euro investment, additional storage and throughput capacity can be offered to clients. A response to market demand and a much-needed step, he argues, because the existing warehouse space is meanwhile running full. There are reasons to presume that new cargo business will be attracted once the facility is operational later this year.
Manager Selis further informed CargoForwarder Global about advanced plans to build an e-commerce working group, consisting of ground handlers, forwarders, representatives of airlines, airport and customs officials. Reason is the rapidly growing volume of shipments ordered online by consumers and handled at LGG. The launching event will be held next Wednesday.  

Heiner Siegmund

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