Only recently, the fast-growing Qatari airline announced a massive route expansion to Latin America starting mid-January 2020 and operating from Doha with stopovers in Luxembourg and Liège. The new destinations serviced with a Boeing 777 freighter are Bogotá, Colombia / Lima, Perú / Santiago de Chile and Viracopos in Brazil.
Liège Airport, particularly, welcomes the flights, as their first reaction following QR Cargo’s announcement shows. From the LGG management’s perspective, the Qataris take on the role as a door
opener to further develop the South American market, Liege’s VP Commercial, Steven Verhasselt, indicates.
Understandably, because Latin America does not rank high on Liège’s route map. At least not up to now! This is especially regrettable given that Latin America is a fast-developing market of which LGG is eager to secure itself a piece of the mouth-watering pie. A desire that will soon be fulfilled - at least partially - when QR Cargo commences serving the eastbound route Bogotá-Liege twice weekly, offering the Columbian market main deck capacity of 200 tons each consecutive week.
In contrast, the Arabian carrier’s westbound flights across the South Atlantic are operated via Luxembourg.
Investments in infrastructure pay off
The commodity-mix of exports flown from Columbia to Liège and onto Qatar very much resembles the African situation where flowers, fruits, vegetables and other perishables are transported northbound to the consumer markets in the Middle East and Europe.
QR Cargo’s upcoming Bogota-Liège flights prove that “our investments made to offer airlines more capacity, both by the airport as by Swissport, are resulting in additional flights right from the very start,” Mr Verhasselt enthuses. For him and his airport, it confirms that their so-called ‘#freightersfirst’ policy combined with the focus on perishables, among other commodities, comes to fruition, attracting additional air traffic.
QR Cargo ups capacity further
Simultaneously to the Bogotá-Liège flights, QR Cargo will connect Doha with Bogotá via Luxembourg and Miami twice weekly as of 16 January 2020 and Doha-Luxembourg-Viracopos also twice weekly. On their way back, the Viracopos/Campinas flights will operate via Santiago de Chile, Lima, Dallas and Luxembourg.
These new services to/from South America became possible thanks to the carrier’s ongoing fleet growth. Only two weeks ago, their 21st new production B777F was welcomed in Doha, increasing the airline’s freighter fleet to 28 units. And five more of this Boeing manufactured variant are to come, based on a firm order signed by the Qatari management and Boeing representatives last June at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget.
LGG is positive to keep their heads above the water
Coming back to Liege and their 2020 business expectations, Mr Verhasselt states that flexibility will remain a paramount criterion for further success. This is key in times with unpredictable market conditions where Brexit is just around the corner and further tariff conflicts lure. The manager’s conclusion: “LGG is working hard to cope with the growth and changes, investing in real estate, digitalization and more importantly in staff and training. That should help to make sure that we can keep meeting the requirements of our customers, old and new.”
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