Strong and smooth air cargo growth at Brussels Airport

By Geert Aerts – Brussels Airport Director Cargo & Logistics – January 2022:

Since 2019 we have recorded a strong and sustained growth in air cargo volumes at Brussels Airport which continued through the year 2021.

Outperforming average growth rates within Europe, Brussels Airport has increased its market share.

In spite of this strong growth, the cargo operations continued to run smoothly, without congestion or additional waiting times. This great achievement over the past few years is only possible thanks to the strong collective performance of the entire Brussels Airport cargo community, with integrators, forwarders, handlers, airlines, truckers and all other stakeholders contributing. This outcome is also the result of the investments made in the expansion of our first line capacity by delivering new buildings such as Brucargo West and the new Swissport Cargo handling building, and as a community, in standardizing and digitizing various operational processes into the open data sharing platform BRUcloud. Decades of experience in complex airside operations within the workforce at the various partner companies at Brussels Airport and the ability to adapt and continuously improve the processes largely contribute to the smooth running of operations.

Christophe Everaert, Station Director Brussels Swissport: “With the finalization of the large-scale renovation of building 704 in 2021, including 47 new truck loading bays and brand- new offices housing Swissport Cargo Services operations, management as well as several of our customers, we were ready for the end-of-year peak season and ready to serve our customers and more efficiently handle the massive flow of volumes which clearly went through the roof.”

The growth in the full-freighter segment more than compensated for the loss of belly capacity. The volume of cargo on board of passenger flight – belly freight – is continuing to recover thanks to the growing number of passenger flights.

David Bellon, Chairman of Air Cargo Belgium: “In extremely challenging circumstances the stakeholders within the Brussels Airport cargo community succeeded in supporting their customers with the needed capacity and uplift. The drastically reduced capacity due to the absence of passenger operations was countered with increased freighter availability, also thanks to the creativity of introducing cargo-only passenger flights. This was highly appreciated by vaccine manufacturers, but other industries equally benefited from it. The cooperation between Brussels Airport and the cargo companies was instrumental in achieving these excellent results.”

In the full-freighter segment, Brussels Airport is seeing growth among almost all existing customers with routes from Asia and North America as main contributors to the additional growth, followed by Africa. The transport of Covid-19 vaccines is also a major contributor, with more than 800 million vaccines handled at Brussels Airport since the start of the vaccine shipments in November 2020.