Multimodal strategy spurs strong growth for Liege Airport
Its multimodal approach (air, road, rail, and waterways) coupled with being at the center of European cross-border trade with its 'freight first' approach paid off
In the midst of a year still marked by the pandemic for the airline industry, Liege Airport has seen strong renewed growth in 2021. Freight traffic reached 1,412,498 tonnes (+26%), as opposed to 1,120,643 tonnes in 2020.
The growth in the number of daytime flights and the increase in multi-modality have continued, as has the number of humanitarian and pharmaceutical flights. As per figures shared by the airport on mail, the cargo throughput figures for the year the cargo throughput handled by the airport in 2019 was 902570 tonnes.
While Liege Airport is the only European airport giving priority to full cargo with its freighters first approach, it specializes in express transport, e-commerce, medical and humanitarian material, pharmaceutical and fresh products, and also living animals. Incidentally in 2018, Liege Airport was chosen by the Chinese logistics group Cainiao Smart Logistics Network to become its logistics hub in Europe which further led to the growth of the expansion of e-commerce activities at the airport.
The segments that contributed to the current record cargo volumes for the airport included general cargo (41%), Express cargo (21%,) Perishables (17%), e-commerce (17%) followed by pharma, medical, humanitarian material (4%).
"For 2022, we'll project a stabilization because FedEx re-localized a part of their activities in Paris. With the development of Silk Road and Cainiao operations + Chinese companies around Cainiao, there is an attractive eco-system for freight forwarders, logistics companies, and so on. In the heart of Europe, the area between Anvers/Rotterdam, Paris, Luxembourg, Francfort, Amsterdam, Liege Airport is perfectly located. With a wide offer of highways, airports, ports, rail, it's one of the best places for freight," remarked CEO Laurent Jossart in an email response to The STAT Trade Times.
The 2021 figures for Liege Airport show a continuation of the trend seen in 2020, as Jossart added, "The global disruption of supply chains, and the lack of air transport capacity in the holds of passenger aircraft, are trends that emerged in 2020 and that have also spurred our growth in 2021. Humanitarian equipment, the pharmaceutical sector, and healthcare (masks, vaccines, medicines) are the main market segments."
Together with all of its logistics partners, Liege Airport is now at the heart of a multi-modal strategy (air, road, rail, and waterways) that is paying off for Wallonia, where the airport is located. Jossart added, "Thanks to our multimodal approach, Liege Airport and the logistics sector had anticipated being at the center of European cross-border trade. The growth in the amount of rail freight coming into the Liege Logistics terminal has been outstanding.
Between them, the Liege rail terminals, which have connections to China, handled 16,103 containers in 2021, an increase of almost 70% over the numbers for 2020. That's 172,893 tonnes, both for imports and exports (+66%), with significant growth in the number of full containers for export."
Passenger traffic has also shown some signs of recovery, with 76,493 passengers, as against 44,487 passengers in 2020—a 72% rise, which is however still a long way from the 170,737 passengers handled by the airport in 2019. The number of aircraft movements has also increased, with 45,699 movements in 2021 (13.4% more than the 40,301 figure for 2020). The number of cargo-aircraft movements rose from 34,310 in 2020 to 38,393 last year, showing an increase of 12%.