At Liège Airport cargo grew double digit in JAN and FEB

The Walloon Airport reports stark traffic figures for the first two months in 2024. According to data, 175,604 tons were handled at LGG in JAN and FEB, an increase of 13% year-on-year versus a throughput of 155,017 tons achieved in the same period a year before.  Aircraft movements went up even 15% but the number of night flights has been halved compared to the same period in 2023. This is good news for the neighboring communities, since noise emissions were thus significantly reduced.

At Liège Airport freighter aircraft are lining up – photo: CFG/hs

The traffic figures confirm the robustness of Liège Airport’s business model that focuses entirely on cargo activities, aviation experts emphasize.  

The upward trend in volumes seen at Liège is in line with growing global demand, as indicated in a study from WorldACD Market Data. Despite strong competition within a geographical radius of 500 km, LGG has recently developed into an airport of choice for many carriers. Since the beginning of this year, five new airlines started operating to and from the Belgian airport. These are Egyptair Cargo, Compass Cargo Airlines, My Freighter, Turkish Cargo, and Hong Kong Air Cargo Carrier. In addition, home carrier Challenge Airlines is also amid a fleet expansion allowing the capacity provider to add routes to India and China to its existing intercontinental network, served with modern freighter aircraft.

Unlike some of its competitors, LGG can offer airlines, forwarders, and ground handlers some attractive conditions for doing business at the Belgian airport: There are abundant free slots, the ground infrastructure has been permanently expanded and adapted to the growing traffic needs, and the airport is easily accessible for feeder services via the upgraded road system. In addition, there is a management team that has always an open ear to the concerns of the freight industry. Cargo airlines are welcome and not just tolerated as an appendix of passenger traffic, as is the case at some other airports where, only recently, air freight operators were hyped as “life savers” during Covid times. 

FedEx takes a U-turn
A special role is played by FedEx. In early 2022, the integrator transferred two-thirds of its operations from LGG to to Paris CDG, leading to a massive reduction of flights at the Walloon Airport, conducted particularly at night times.  Now, the Memphis, Tennessee-headquartered express company announced plans to return, driven by the strategy to use Liège as intercontinental European air freight hub by operating daytime flights to/from the USA with B777 freighters. The new aeronautical fee mechanism introduced in 2023 has made daytime ops financially much more attractive for airlines compared to night flights. Hence, carriers operating modern fleets benefit from this pricing policy. Others pay, like owners of B747-200 and 400. The movements of these aging and noisy aircraft went down from formerly 1047 movements (January/February 2023) to 946 movements during the first two months of this year. That’s a reduction of 10%, and more than 72% of these movements are now carried out during the day. And times get even tougher. Because the new operating scheme prohibits these aircraft from taking off at night from 2030 onwards,” says CEO Laurent Jossart. So most of the affected carriers, traffic data evidence, have skipped their night flights and operate at daytime meanwhile.

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