After several years of unbridled growth, Liege Airport is entering a period of transition, due to both geopolitical and economic realities. The airport’s new VP Marketing & Sales Torsten Wefers (TW) and Communication Manager Christian Delcourt (CD) remain optimistic about the business developments of the Walloon Airport.
Mr. Wefers has been on the job only a few weeks, taking over the tasks of Commercial Director Steven Verhasselt and VP Commercial Cargo & Logistics Bert Selis. Both have left the airport in
the meantime (CargoForwarder reported).
CFG: Gentlemen, after years of continuous growth Liege Airport is confronted with the downsizing of the FedEx operation, the departures of AirBridgeCargo and CMA CGM Air Cargo that is moving from LGG to Paris CDG. How do these shifts affect the volume?
CD: This year is certainly a year of transition for us. As for FedEx, the decrease since the end of March was expected. It is due to the relocation of traffic to the Paris CDG hub. The decrease in the number of flights is, however, not fully reflected in the tonnage. Before we had 18,408 night flights, now only 6,604 are left, a drop of 64%. Of the 315,000 tonnes, we lost 177,000 tonnes (-56%).
TW: Most of the ABC flights have been replaced by other carriers, or by their clients chartering other aircraft. The warehouse they were using is now operated by WFS, which already provided the handling services for them.
On top of this, the Chinese Covid policy has had an effect on all the major European cargo airports. Some flights have been cancelled, due to capacity restrictions on the Chinese hubs, or payload restrictions caused by reduced handling capacity. Liege Airport has a very big share of Chinese traffic. The closure of the Russian air space has forced many airlines to choose new routes southbound, involving extra fuel stops or reduced payload.
CFG: E-commerce volumes are apparently declining as well?
TW: “The overall drop in e-commerce volume was caused by new EU customs rules implemented on 1 July 2021, lifting a VAT exemption on goods imported by non-EU companies into the EU and valued at less than €22. On the other hand, you mustn’t forget that the last 3 to 4 years were outstanding at LGG.
CFG: How do you assess the effects of all this on the short- and middle-long term?
TW: It is hard to make estimates or forecasts at this point. We don’t know exactly how the market will evolve. Everybody in this business is unsure and it is too early to identify trends, as trend building is still in the beginning. There are still a lot of uncertainties, among which the oil prices and the future policies of the Chinese government.
CFG: Speaking of China, aren’t you afraid that in time some antagonism may arise concerning the country’s aggressive economic global expansion, which will eventually bring some fall-out at LGG?
TW: We are very happy about our Chinese cooperation and the support of the local Chinese cargo community for Liege Airport as well as the support of the entire LGG community for this community. I’ve been here for a couple of weeks only and after meeting some of these actors within the cargo community I found how supportive they are. Everybody here is fully supporting Liege Airport and draw business from other airports to LGG.
Marcel Schoeters in Liege
We welcome and publish comments from all authenticated users.