Liege hoping strong growth will continue

Liege Airport

After a strong first 10 months of 2015, Liege Airport is hoping the final two months of the year will match 2014, which received an artificial boost due to charter flights for the Ebola virus outbreak.

The airport’s cargo and logistics manager, Bert Selis, tells Air Cargo Week that volumes were up 11 per cent year-on-year between January and October, with growth coming from existing partners, which he says will result in further growth in the future.

Selis says: “The flexibility to operate freighters in the best possible conditions, day and night, and the handling performance allowing the product to spend the least possible time at the airport are key to success and key growth factors.”

The final two months of 2014 were “exceptional’, according to Selis, because of the number of charter flights operated to transport aid for the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. Liege handled over 100 Ebola charter flights and Selis is hoping the airport can match those volumes this year through normal growth, and not because of another crisis.

“We would be happy if the growth of regular activities would result in similar volumes, without having to deal with a crisis like this.”

“For the rest of 2016 we expect growth in line with global airfreight industry’s expectations, to continue at 2014 levels of four to five per cent.”

Selis says Liege handles a lot of express, pharmaceutical and perishable cargo, with flowers, fish and vegetable volumes growing. These are handled by the likes of Swissport, LACHS [Liege Airport Cargo Handling Services] and Aviapartner. “Pharmaceutical products have been an important commodity at Liege Airport for many years and recently all three received IATA CEIV [International Air Transport Association Center for Independent Validators] certification too.”

He expects Liege Airport will handle about 660,000 tonnes of cargo in 2015, and facilities are being expanded so this can increase further. Liege has about 200,000 square metres of first line warehousing and it is constructing a new horse facility and about to start another 13,000 square metre of first line warehousing.

Something which Selis is very excited about is the FlexPort City project, which in the first stage has meant 300,000 square metres of land is available for logistics with a further 850,000 square metres for future growth.

“This area is part of the airport development masterplan is entirely dedicated to the handling and consolidation of air cargo, pharmaceutical products, perishable products and parcel/e-commerce business,” he adds.

The Belgian government has also 4.7 million square metres of land around Liege Airport for redevelopment over the next 15 years. Selis says: “Together with Liege’s Trilogiport development, a major Inland Container Terminal operated by DP World, Liege is positioning itself as the cargo hub of the future.”