Liege Airport has been chosen as the European hub in a global network operation set up by Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of the Chinese e-commerce wholesaler Alibaba.
Difficult to determine Cainiao figures
The move is expected to bring more Alibaba-related freight to the airport. LGG has been an important import centre for e-commerce consignments for years. Today a lot of this form of cargo is flown in to LGG for further distribution in Europe.
The main carriers of this volume are ASL Airlines Belgium and AirBridgeCargo, which are supplemented by Silk Way-operated charter flights. Hence, they are spread over the premises of different handlers and for the time being they cannot be identified as Cainiao volume in the airport’s statistics.
“Cainiao has chosen our airport for its flexibility, the quality of its services, its advantages consisting of its ideal localisation in Europe, the fact that it is open 24/7 and its connectivity with the other continents,” explains Luc Partoune, CEO of Liege Airport. The manager went on to say: “The e-commerce strategy in air cargo will truly revolutionise air transport and logistics processing. The digitisation of operations, their monitoring and robotisation are profoundly changing our businesses. Liege Airport is destined to become the cargo airport of the future and the partnership with Cainiao will contribute to this.”
800,000 tonnes are within reach
According to the Belgian financial daily L’Echo, which still uses the conditional mode, Cainiao is planning the construction of a major distribution centre, just north of the airport. Sources at the airport point at a contract being negotiated by specialized e-commerce logistics provider 4XP Express at the Liege Logistics Park.
Over the first 5 months of this year LGG has registered a 17% growth, which may lead to a total volume of over 800,000 tonnes for this year. Apart from LGG, Cainiao announced to set up
distribution centres in Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and, of course, its own home base at Hanghzou, China.
Liege has a strong potential to become an international hub and this decision confirms the importance of the e-commerce sector for developments at Liege Airport. The hubs are intended to support the expansion of the service “Delivery in 5 days” of Cainiao, which hopes to grow from 30 to 100 cities in the world over the coming three years for its deliveries.
Good customs operations is the key
In this way, efficient collaboration between AWEX, LIW, the Belgian customs and the airport has been crowned with success, as LGG chief Partoune explains: “We particularly wish to thank all our partners, who have enabled us to receive one of the largest logistics firms in the world.”
This new partnership between a major logistics company and Liege Airport will integrate local SMEs and promote their exports via e-commerce.