Brussels Airport reflects on 2021

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The cargo division of Brussels Airport performed exceptionally well in the past year
Brussels Airport


In 2021, Brussels Airport has reported that it welcomed almost 9.4 million passengers, that is 39% more than in the crisis year 2020, but a decline of 64% compared to 2019.

The cargo division of Brussels Airport performed exceptionally well in the past year; there was a strong growth in all cargo segments and Brussels Airport is the most important European hub for vaccine transport, with more than 800 million Covid vaccines handled since November 2020.

The total cargo volume rose to 843,000 tonnes, an increase of no less than 30% compared to 2020.

“For two years now, the aviation sector has been seriously impacted by the corona crisis, but I am pleased that we were able to achieve a strong increase in passenger numbers in 2021, especially in the second half of the year. While the start of 2021 was still heavily affected by the travel restrictions and measures, from the summer onwards recovery began, and we saw travellers return,” says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport.

He continues: “So, I am hopeful about the future. We see that people want to travel and, together with all our partners, we make this possible in a safe way. The recovery will be gradual, but we expect to be able to continue this positive trend in 2022. In addition, our cargo division has seen an unprecedented growth, with an increase in volume of 30% compared to 2020. The demand for air cargo was exceptionally high, and thanks to our investments, digitisation and our strong cargo community, Brussels Airport was able to handle this growth with ease. With our expertise in the transport of pharmaceuticals, as the main hub for the export of vaccines in Europe, we could do our part in the battle against Covid with more than 800 million vaccines transported, and we will undoubtedly continue to do this in the year ahead.”

Cargo: record growth of 30% compared to 2020

In 2021, 843,140 tonnes of freight were transported, representing a 30% increase compared to 2020. For the air freight volumes, we see a rise of no less than 31% compared to 2020, and 33% more than in 2019, the best result since 2007. This is the largest annual growth ever achieved at Brussels Airport and this makes Brussels Airport one of the strongest growing European airports in cargo volumes.

The quality of cargo handling and continuity remained guaranteed, without congestion or additional waiting times, thanks to the efforts of all cargo partners on Brussels Airport.

Growth was achieved in all segments: full freighter, integrator, belly cargo and trucked cargo. Especially the full freighter segment performed strongly, with a continuation of the growth with 43% compared to 2020 and a growth of no less than 104% compared to pre-Covid times (2019).

In December freight transport at Brussels Airport increased by 21% compared to December 2020. The growth of air freight is particularly strong in the full freighter segment (+49%) and also in the belly cargo (+64%) due to the steady growth of the number of regular passenger flights. The integrator services stabilised at a high level (-0.4%), after the strong and continuous growth in recent months.

The transport of vaccines to and from Brussels Airport continued. Since the start of the vaccine transport in November 2020, more than 800 million vaccines were transported, which more than ever confirms the position of Brussels Airport as the most important pharmahub in Europe.