Brussels Airport has become a co-investor in DronePort, an eco-system aimed at developing drones and Advanced Air Mobility. It will add to the airport’s comprehensive expertise, an aspect that was also given attention at the 16th edition of the Brussels Airport Aviation Awards, recently.
Already in 2021, Brussels Airport became shareholder of SkeyDrone, a subsidiary of the Air Traffic Control body, Skeyes. On Friday (10MAR23), the airport management took the next step by acquiring a 30% share in DronePort. DronePort was launched 10 years ago, to stimulate research and innovation by creating an eco-system for the drone and Advanced Air Mobility sector. Thanks to the investment, Brussels Airport will be enabled to strengthen the development of solutions and services based on drone technology, explains CEO Arnaud Feist. “We are increasingly investing in the development of innovative technologies and work on various drone projects in the area of airport security and operational efficiency, amongst others.”
DronePort is located at the former air force base of Brustem, some 60 km east of Brussels. It is an initiative of the Limburg Investment Company LRM, the city of Sint-Truiden, the Provincial Development Company of Limburg, and JK Invest, a private investment company that is already involved in aviation-related projects.
DronePort wants to stimulate research and innovation by creating an eco-system for the drone and Advanced Air Mobility sector. This eco-system includes both a regional airport and various services such as a campus, a drone test site, and an incubator that forms a growth platform for companies wanting to develop this new market further.
Pharma expertise pays off for Expeditors
Expertise was also reflected in the four out of eleven 2022 Brussels Airport Aviation Awards that were reserved for cargo. With these awards, Brussels Airport wants to reward airlines and partners who, in 2022, excelled in the areas of punctuality and performance, network development, and safety and environment. Brussels Airport has been organizing the Aviation Awards since 2007.
In the category ‘Logistics Provider Award’, Expeditors outperformed Herfurth Logistics, Kuehne+Nagel, the Chinese Hongyuan Group, and forwarding agent, Ziegler. According to Geert Aerts, Chief Cargo & Real Estate Officer Brussels Airport Company, who hosted the cargo-related part of the ceremony, Expeditors is a partner with which Brussels Airport has been closely collaborating already for a longer time - to mutual benefit. “They have enabled us to build further on our expertise in pharma logistics, making us a preferred European pharma hub,” stated the executive.
Approached by CFG for a comment, Expeditors replied: “The award is a recognition of our efforts to constantly improve and raise the bar on our logistics procedures and supply chain management. Our new building, equipped with the latest technology and equipment, allows constant fine tuning to adhere to customers’ expectations and demands. We have positioned ourselves as a leader in pharmaceutical logistics and we have invested heavily in temperature-controlled facilities and procedures, ensuring the safe and secure transportation of these products. We are offering customized solutions that meet the unique needs of customers, supported by Brussels Airport, aiming to make Brucargo the pharmaceutical hub of Europe.”
Ethiopian keeps flying high
Air Belgium, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Sichuan Airlines were shortlisted for the ‘Cargo Airline Performance Award’, which is calculated by using the number of weekly flights, number of destinations, total quantity of cargo flown, cargo per flight and tonnage growth. Ethiopian Airlines came out as the winner; an award that the African airline had already once received in 2017.
Area Manager Benelux, Gemechis Tujuba, expressed his delight: “This is a reward for our 8% volume growth over 2021. Ethiopian has around 19 direct cargo flights per week between Brussels Airport and Addis Ababa. We fly very modern B777 freighter aircraft, which are complemented by our daily B787-9 passenger operation, which takes another 10 to 12 tons of belly cargo.”
The same nominees competed for the ‘Cargo Airline Award’. This time, Air Belgium was the winner for starting up their full-cargo activities with ultra-modern B747-8 and A330 aircraft, strengthening the growth at the airport thanks to the successful partnership with Hongyuan Group.
Beating Air Cargo Belgium, Animal Care and Inspection Centre (ACIC) Operator, dnata, and Hongyuan Group, Aviapartner Cargo took home the ‘Brucargo Award’. This was introduced in 2012 to highlight Brussels Airport’s partners at Brucargo.
Geert Aerts said that Brussels Airport is always looking into reinforcing the cargo community and that Aviapartner Cargo had played a very important role in that field last year. “At international fairs, they were very present to fly the Aviapartner banner as well as the larger Brucargo community’s. They are also very active in all the Air Cargo Belgium workshops.”
“I am very glad that, even today, quality is still important,” said General Manager Cargo, Patrick Minsart. “It is amazing that we, as a small Belgian company having a cargo operation only in Belgium, manage to make our mark in this fierce competitive environment.”
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels
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