Brussels Airport looks at new ways of working


The downside of a newly invigorated air cargo market has become evident, according to Brussels Airport head of cargo and logistics Steven Polmans (pictured), writes Neil Madden.

“Problems and congestion seen in Europe in recent months due to strong market growth have shown up once again,” he tells Air Cargo Week.

“In order to make real changes and improve our industry, we have to work together in a complete different way. We can no longer play dumb and look at our own internal operations and keep our eyes shut as to what is comes before or after us in the logistics chain,” he continues.

As an example, he points to the launch early this year of the Brussels cargo community slot booking portal accessible via BRUcloud. This lets forwarders book times for pick-up and delivery at participating warehouses.

Brussels Airport Company head of cargo and logistics, Steven Polmans

In the first phase, two ground handling facilities, those of Aviapartner and WFS, were open for advance booking.

Other participating companies in the first roll-out are Nippon Express Belgium, Kuehne + Nagel, Panalpina, Sky Fast, and DHL Global Forwarding, with the latter being the first company to book a slot using the portal.

The aim is to cut queues and waiting times at the reserved gates allowing all participants to allocate resources more efficiently. “This is proving to be very successful and showing immediate results,” adds Polmans.

“We will invest more this year so additional features become available and we can really build a landside operational management tool to increase efficiency and cut waste in our way of working.”

More generally, Brussels expects another strong year in 2018, “more or less in line with the growth we had in 2017 which was around 10 per cent” Polmans continues.

Last year was especially good for exports, mainly to Asia and more specifically China, he says.

But South America, too, saw “a huge recovery” in export volumes and Polmans expects this trend to continue.

Pharma is very important to the Belgian hub and the cargo team is doing all it can to maintain its position as a leading gateway.

“After the development and introduction of the CEIV certification programme, our airside pharma dollies (transporters), and the creation of, a lot of focus over the next few months will be on a project to increase visibility in the logistics chain,” Polmans goes on.

“This is something most players in our industry are not actively supporting, but which is being asked for by pharma shippers and manufacturers.”

Also in the pipeline is a €100 million real estate development plan, including renovating existing warehouse buildings as well as adding 50,000 square metres of new first line handling facilities and 10,000 square metres in second line facilities.

“They will come into use between the end of this year and end 2019,” Polmans says.