Brussels Airport has passed the 500,000 tonne milestone for the first time since DHL moved its European hub from the Belgian gateway to Leipzig.
The airport hit the figure on 7 December, and while growth has come from all segments, the main driver for the year-to-date growth of 9.5 per cent comes from cargo in the bellies of passenger aircraft.
Belly cargo was up 13 per cent, with integrator traffic increasing 9.9 per cent, and full freighters by 6.6 per cent, with exports rising considerably fuelled by strong economic performance in Belgium and Europe.
It adds the biggest increase was noted on lanes to South America and Asia.
Brussels Airport head of cargo and logistics, Steven Polmans says: “Since 2008, our volumes dropped under 500,000 tons of cargo and in 2013 we were even flirting with the 400,000 number. But in the last four years we have seen an overall growth of over 25 per cent in our flown volumes.”
The BRUcargo area also handles more than 140,000 tonnes of local cargo being trucked to and from other European hubs, bringing the forecast for 2017 close to the 700,000 tonne mark.
The airport expects solid growth in 2018, with some airlines having started operations at the start of the 2017 winter schedule such as Hainan Airlines to Shanghai and a second daily Emirates flight to Dubai.
Brussels is also looking forward to welcoming new customers such as Cathay Pacific and Amerijet.
To cope with this growth, Brussels is finalising a major expansion plan for the cargo area including new warehouses, additional apron space and the introduction of a third handling agent.
The tender process is ongoing and Brussels is expected to announce the outcome in the middle of the third quarter.
Other projects next year to facilitate cargo handling and increase efficiency are the slot booking system for all truck movements at the cargo zone and the pooling of airside handling equipment.