The official landing of a FedEx B777 at Liege Airport on the way home from Shanghai has added another chapter in the airport’s development. The Belgian pilots association BecA, however, questions some of the FedEx European operations.
The direct connection between the two hubs, inaugurated on 20 April, is a logical step in FedEx’s network growth, says David Binks, President of FedEx Express Europe and CEO of TNT. “It will
bring leverage to the potential of the two companies. The strengthening of our regional hubs is part of our strategy, together with the introduction of new technology and the reinforcement of our
The upgrading of the LGG facilities, in collaboration with the airport management, will ensure that, by November this year, LGG will be among the most advanced logistics hubs in the world”, David concluded.
Marie-Dominique Simonet, who chairs the Board at LGG, said that the touchdown of the FedEx aircraft was a great day for the airport. “It is an important first step in the integration of TNT in the FedEx network and a sign of confidence from FedEx in our airport.” Marie-Dominique reminded the guests participating in the ceremony that LGG still has a large growth potential. “FedEx has brought a reinforcement of our connectivity and attractiveness.”
End to uncertainty
It seems that the arrival of the FedEx flight has put an end to a long period of preparation and a some uncertainty. The Walloon Minister of Economy Jean-Claude Marcourt said that the initial question was if FedEx would be willing to confirm the role of LGG. “After a trip to Memphis we have been able to convince the FedEx Board.”
Aviation minister René Collin added that the integration of the two networks has not been achieved in one day. “The airport has been able to mobilise and we have been able to make considerable investments, all in accordance with European legislation. Our ATC team has entered into agreements with their counterparts in France and Germany to guarantee the continuity of the operations.”
He added that LGG had extended its main runway to 3,800 meters and had committed to lengthen the secondary runway to 3,200 meters.
ASLB flight to New York JFK
The Belgian Cockpit Associations (BecA), representing the interests of the Belgian pilots, seized the opportunity of the arrival of the first FedEx flight, to raise concerns on the future of ASL Airlines Belgium (ASLB). Together with the Memphis link, FedEx recently announced its plans to operate three of ASLB’s European routes with FedEx pilots. BeCA points out that according to the Open Skies agreement, US Cargo operators are not allowed to organise all-cargo services in Europe if they are not linked to the US.
BeCA maintains that the routes from LGG to London Heathrow and Basel are thus illegal and wants to take the matter further to its European umbrella organisation ECA. To this LGG’s VP Commercial Steven Verhasselt says that ASLB is also developing services for its own account. “Last week ASLB launched four weekly flights between LGG and New York JFK. These may well take some FedEx volumes, but this operation is entirely ASLB’s.”
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels