The opening of an 8,000 m² facility for the Chinese logistics provider, Hongyuan Group on 07OCT21, is another milestone in the development of Brussels Airport’s e-commerce business, as well as the first investment of a Chinese aviation company at the airport.
A welcome address to a cargo investor by the CEO of Brussels Airport is something that would have been unthinkable a mere ten years ago and is another sign of the upgrading of air freight in the
mindset of the airport management.
Prior to the signing of the MoU with Hongyuan, CEO Arnaud Feist reminded of 5 decades of privileged trade relations between Belgium and China triggered by the official recognition of the People’s Republic of China and full-scale diplomatic relations 50 years ago.
“We are very pleased that Hongyuan has chosen Brussels as its European hub. Since the end of 2020, the group has brought cargo flights to the airport with different operators. We are happy to provide them with this refurbished infrastructure with front line access and an integrated IT system,” Mr. Feist said.
Supporting the growing e-commerce volume
“Brussels is well connected to the European motorway network. On top of this, Hongyuan will contribute to direct as well as indirect employment, and respond to the growing demand for e-commerce, hand in hand with the growth of e-commerce over the past 18 months.”
“Over the past 9 months, our growth rate was 42%, supported by state-of-the-art facilities and our BRUcloud platform. We have invested hundreds of million euros in the further development of Brucargo, and we are convinced that we will enable Hongyuan to achieve its ambition.”
“Hongyuan was set up in 2001,” said Cling Guo, Director of Hongyuan Group Europe. “We organized our first cargo flight in 2018 and have so far had 1,180 flights to Belgium. In Brussels, we have found a strategic location and gateway, as well as a dedicated airport community, supporting further development. The digital support will enable us to offer more qualitative air cargo services to our customers.”
As mentioned by Mr. Feist, Hongyuan does not own a fleet of its own. The flights are operated by AirBridgeCargo, Air China, and ATC, all flying B747-400. The acquisition of 2 self-owned B747-8 is on the agenda, as the group is facing a capacity shortage. Apart from Brussels, Hongyuan’s other European destinations are Liege Airport and London Heathrow.
Connectivity is a key factor
CFG: Wasn’t it Hongyuan that was given a warm welcome in Ostend Airport and then decided to go to LGG and eventually BRU, Mr. Guo?
CG: “We were indeed given a warm welcome at OST, but for us it was a short-time operation.”
CFG: Why did you decide to choose BRU as your main European hub and not LGG. Was it because of Alibaba?
CG: “Our business is different from Alibaba’s. They are a pure e-commerce company. We are basically a carrier offering air products and needing a continuous number of flights. This is what our customers demand. At BRU, we have a much larger connectivity because of the available belly capacity offered by different carriers for transferring our goods.”
In Brussels, the Hongyuan operation is handled by Aviapartner. The company organizes its own RFS to other airports. Classic road haulage services are to be organized by the customers.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels
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