Liège snags next customer

Not just an impression, but reality: cargo airlines have recently been lining up at the door of Liège Airport’s (LGG) management. They include Turkish Cargo, which has now walked through the entrance portal and been warmly welcomed. As a gift to its hosts, it announced that it will launch three cargo flights a week. They will commence at the end of this month with the start of the summer flight schedule, and will connect the Belgian airport with Turkish Cargo’s home hub, Istanbul.

Turkish Cargo freighters will soon be seen regularly at Liège Airport  –  courtesy: TK

It is worth taking a look at it from a broader perspective: since the beginning of this year, Turkish Cargo is the fifth cargo airline to add LGG to its flight program. The expanded ground infrastructure that keeps growing according to demand, plenty of free slots, the 24/7/365 operational permit, and an airport management that focuses entirely on the cargo business, are convincing selling points that increasingly attract freight carriers.

Widebody freighters
This also applies to Turkish Cargo. The carrier will mainly use A330Fs on the route IST-LGG. However, sometimes an older Airbus model A310-300F will also be utilized. This aircraft belongs to the Turkish ACMI provider, ULS Airlines Cargo, but is operated by Turkish Cargo.

The carrier’s flights to Liège are backed by some big boys from the e-com sector. While on the westbound leg they are operated non-stop, on the way back to the Turkish metropolis, the freighters make a stopover in Basel or Budapest. This flight path shows that the export volumes in LGG are still insufficient to completely and permanently fill the main deck of the aircraft. “The flights are an important step to making the services more widely known within the European cargo community. We believe that the frequencies will soon be increased and that the return flights will then be operated non-stop,” estimates Torsten Wefers, VP Cargo Sales & Marketing at Liège Airport.

The pull effect
His main argument for this assumption: in addition to the acquisition of new cargo airlines, the Walloon Airport’s management has succeeded in upping the number of forwarding agents opening a station within the airport’s perimeters. Airlines attract forwarders. More forwarders mean more freight volumes handled and flown.

He emphasizes that the flights soon operated by Turkish Cargo have not been relocated to Liège from other Western European airports, and are therefore at their expense. “We don’t support the cannibalization of traffic. These Turkish flights are additional services between Turkey and Western Europe.”

Top three global brands
What makes Turkish Cargo’s services particularly interesting for the cargo community in Liège, is the fact that the airline offers a huge international network via its Istanbul gateway. “Due to these advantageous conditions for cargo customers, we hope to develop a strategic partnership between Liège Airport and Turkish Cargo,” states Mr. Wefers.

The carrier ensures long-term growth through its expanded infrastructure, operational capabilities, and constant fleet growth. “It can be expected that Turkish Cargo will rank among the top three global cargo brands by 2028,” forecasts Mr. Wefers.

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