Liege Airport has cemented its MoU with Russian carrier AirBridgeCargo into a strategic agreement for the next 10 years. This is expected to move LGG up into the top-5 of European cargo airports by 2020.
The agreement was signed in London on 9 October. The day after LGG gave more details to the home press in Liege. LGG CEO Luc Partoune recalled the arrival of ABC at the airport in November 2017,
when the company was no longer able to fly its desired number of operations at Amsterdam.
“Early this year we reacted to ABC’s tender for the creation of a European hub, for which we had to compete with some 30 other airports. We were able to offer our unlimited capacity and room for expansion as well as our workforce.”
This fact was stressed by the Jean-Luc Crucke, the regional (Walloon) minister for Airports. “We were able to give the political support requested, as we think that both Brussels South Charleroi and Liege Airport are the driving forces of the economy of Wallonia. In reacting to a tender put out by ABC we completely complied with the European regulation.”
Mr Crucke also referred to the political support by the Belgian Federal Government, through an aviation agreement with Russia. This includes 5th Freedom, giving ABC the right to carry cargo from and to LGG on its routes from and to its home base in Moscow.
LGG Chief Mr Partoune also stressed that ABC’s speciality in both perishables and e-commerce – a booming business in Russia - mirror LGG’s. The agreement stipulates that ABC will rent warehousing capacity at LGG for 10 years to come and will increase its frequency to 30 flights per week over the new 18 months.
SOWAER, the company managing the Walloon airports will invest €30 million in the construction of some 25,000 m² of warehousing capacity at Cargo Nord, some 12,500 sq. m. of which will be available as from June 2019. The second phase is expected to be completed by early 2020. All in all the ABC hub will generate 400 direct jobs, which, according to Mr Crucke, will snowball in a lot more.
Slot booking app
According to Mr Partoune, ABC will be LGG’s second largest customer after FedEx. The extra volume will lift the airport’s total tonnage up to 1 million tonnes per year, which would bring it into the European top-5 of cargo airports. Over the first three quarters of this year the airport has handled 628,500 tonnes. In 2017 LGG’s total volume was 717,000 tonnes.
The airport also pursues the path of innovation. The airport’s own ground handler LACHS has decided to implement the slot booking app for truckers, which was launched at Brussels Airport earlier this years. Rumours that LGG will also get its own version of the BRUcloud platform have so far not been confirmed.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels