2023 was a ‘mixed year’ for Belgium’s Liege Airport

2023 was a 'mixed year' for Belgium's Liege Airport

2023 was a mixed one for Liege, the airport said, with a decline in freight traffic and an increase in passenger traffic.

With 1,005,676 metric tons transiting through its facilities, the airport is still in pole position in Belgium and among the European leaders.

In terms of passenger activity, Liege Airport welcomed 175,606 passengers – up 5.2 per cent on 2022.

2020 and 2021 had reportedly been exceptional, with 50 per cent growth following the coronavirus pandemic, the explosion of e-commerce and the cessation of passenger flights.

50 per cent of air cargo is carried “belly” in passenger aircraft, while the normalisation of the market had begun in 2022 and continued into 2023.

The main statistics for 2023 are as follows:
– 1,005,676 tonnes (versus 1,140,060 tonnes in 2022, a decrease of 11.8 per cent)
– 175,606 passengers (versus 166,898 in 2022, an increase of 5.2 per cent)
– 33,548 aircraft movements (vs. 37,589 in 2022, down 10.7 per cent), including 23,917 cargo movements (versus 27,840 in 2022, down 14 per cent)

It should be noted that, for the last quarter of 2023, an increase in both overall (up 3.5 per cent) and cargo movements (by 3.3 per cent) was recorded.

Also the handled imports tonnage grew by 2.3 per cent, suggesting a slight recovery in the market. Due to the overall economic situation the export volumes handled are seeing down.

The airport’s transformation continues, with significantly fewer night flights and more day flights. The airport recorded almost 70 per cent night flights in 2021 and just over 30 per cent in 2023 – almost 10,000 night flights in 2023.

“FedEx’s restructuring came into full effect in 2023 on top of a difficult international economic context (war in Ukraine, downturn in the Chinese market, less consumer spend
in Europe).

Laurent Jossart, CEO of Liege Airport, said: “All European cargo airports are experiencing a backlash. Even if the reference year is already a long way off, it’s worth noting that we are gaining 11.5 per cent in tonnage in 2023 compared with 2019, while having digested the FedEx restructuring and the departure of AirBridge Cargo following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

“This sets us apart from most European airports, which are behind on their 2019 cargo figures. With [our] new operating license, our Board of Directors has adopted our ambitious Master Plan and Business Plan ‘Vision 2040’.

More than €500mn will be invested over the next 20 years, with the aim of becoming a multimodal hub, exemplary in environmental terms and a creator of jobs for our region.”

Image credit: Markus Mainka