It seems as Brussels Airport’s managers have firmly set their eyes on further expansion for their air cargo product. They announced on Friday 9. March that over the coming three years a total of EUR 100 million has been allocated for the addition of new logistics buildings at the airport.
Looking to serve customers better
Brucargo, the airport’s air cargo handling arm, can boast more than 100 different companies involved in their logistics chain and the interaction between the players in the chain becomes stronger month by month resulting in the meantime in a well functioning cooperation amongst all. The airport managers have long recognised that Brussels Airport as Belgium’s second largest logistics hub behind the port of Antwerp, is an important and crucial location between the most important industrial centres.
The airport needs more logistics facilities to cater for future demand
In this respect the decision was made to invest a further EUR 100 million in developing and setting up even more modern logistics facilities which will be put at the disposal of the leading handling companies situated at the airport.
There will be a new 50,000 sqm building erected on the western side of the present BRUcargo premises, which will have direct access to the aircraft parking apron. This building will be allocated to four companies - Kuehne + Nagel, Dnata and Worldwide Flight Services (WFS) are three of those already slotted for this area. The new facility will be especially geared towards the handling and storage of temperature sensitive cargo as well as hi-value shipments. The airport also plans to redevelop existing cargo handling buildings which have direct tarmac access. The present Swissport building will be transformed during the coming three years into a more modern and efficient storage and office facility offering 30,000 sqm of handling space.
Hi-value to get own premises
Brinks, one of the largest and most well-known security companies, will get their own secured area for the handling and storage of extremely valuable cargo. The building which is slated to be ready by 2019 will give Brinks exclusive space. A 2,500 sqm animal border inspection area with temperature and lighting controlled systems will round off the three year investment plan.
Cargo Keeps Flying High at BRU
However, it’s not only the new infrastructure planned at BRU that delights the manag-ers but also last year’s cargo results that were more than satisfactory.
In 2017, a total of 535,634 tons were handled, representing a leap of 8.3 percent y-o-y. It was the highest volume processed at the Belgian hub during the last ten years. And the freight bonanza seems to continue in 2018.
Ironically, main growth driver was the increasing number of passenger aircraft serving BRU, much appreciated by the local cargo community since they offered a lot of additional lower deck
capacity for cargo imports and exports alike. As BRU states in a release, belly freight grew by almost 14 percent in 2017 compared to a year before.
Secondly, package delivery companies also contributed disproportionately to the upswing, accounting for a growth of 9.7 percentage points against the previous year.
Pharma goes through the roof
In contrast, tonnage flown in the main decks of freighter aircraft serving Brussels increased only 3 percent in 2017. Although this figure does not appear too impressive, Steven Polmans, the airport’s Head of Cargo and Logistics is quite pleased with the outcome of this particular traffic segment: “This three percent growth follows an increase of almost 15% last year compared to 2015,” he recalls, which relativizes the freighter contribution to the tonnage handled at BRU. The manager goes on to say: “So despite some noise issues we had in Q2 resulting in a few airlines leaving the airport, we are very pleased to see that growth picked up again by the end of the year still resulting in an overall growth in this segment.”
Remarkable is also the development in pharma that experienced an increase of 18 percent compared to 2016. “This sharp rise confirms the leading position of Brussels Airport as transport specialist for pharmaceutical products,” BRUcargo gives itself a pat on its own back.
Growth to continue unabated
Turning to 2018, Mr Polmans and his team expect freight volumes to continue their upward journey. A forecast based on data provided by carriers, like Cathay Pacific for example. The Hong Kong-based airline will start A350 operations to Brussels this year. A further newcomer will be Amerijet that announced rotations between Miami and Brussels, connecting Zaventem Airport with their Central American network. To manage the expected growth in airfreight even more efficiently, the BRUcargo team will be strengthened.
Finally, the airport announces that an additional ground handling agent is standing on the list to obtain an operational concession later this year, should a tender process have been concluded successfully by then.
Heiner Siegmund / John Mc Donagh