An integrated sea-air logistics platform is in the making at Belgian’s North Sea Coast, where the Port of Zeebrugge and the Airport Ostend-Bruges are seeking ways of collaboration.
The unifying factor in the venture is the private group Versluys Logistics, which is currently developing a 16,000 m² warehouse in the airport’s Cargo Village as part of a wider collaboration
scheme. On 01JUN21, Versluys Logistics signed a Letter of Intent with the Port of Zeebrugge’s operator MBZ, which is to become the basis for the joint sea-air cargo supply chain.
Through collective marketing, Versluys Logistics and MBZ will promote both the sea and the airport as one large integrated logistics platform that will offer solutions for present and future logistic challenges.
Re-enter Marcel Buelens
Versluys Logistics’ CEO is Marcel Buelens, the former CEO of the Flemish Airports, and a veteran in the air cargo industry. “This set-up is about a common approach towards groups requiring air, sea, rail, or other modes of transport,” Mr Buelens says.
“We want to assist the port and the airport in this strategy, without meddling in the eventual distribution process. Consignments could be brought together in one particular distribution center, from which further distribution can be organized.”
Mr Buelens does not conceal that especially e-commerce is targeted, apart from other industries such as automotive. According to the stakeholders, the integration of the different logistic levels can be relevant in two ways. On the one side, part of the sea or air cargo segment could be mutually interchangeable. On the other hand, both can be complementary, which would be attractive to new forms of distribution.
Bart Versluys, CEO of the mother company Versluys Groep, says that the corona crisis and the strong growth of e-commerce have led to a huge demand for logistic real estate.
Independent of merger
Earlier this year it was announced that the Port of Zeebrugge and the Port of Antwerp had initiated a merger (See CFG 14FEB21), but until this has been approved by the Belgian competition authority both ports are still pursuing their respective commercial policies independently, MBZ’s spokesperson said.
Last year, the Chinese Lin Gang Group initiated the construction of a logistics platform in Zeebrugge, intended for e-commerce products from China to Europe. Apart from being an intercontinental container port, Zeebrugge is also well connected to the European shortsea network and the UK.
Marcel Schoeters in Ostend
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