Social unrest contributed to Brussels Airport’s volume decline

Benelux Special – Part 3

Apart from the global decline of air cargo volumes, Brussels Airport was also hit by social unrest in 2019. Last year also brought a further roll-out of Air Cargo Belgium-led digitization
projects. With the start of 2020, the airport’s cargo department has gone through a major overhaul.

At ACB’s New Year’s reception last week, President Steven Polmans passed the honor of giving the welcoming speech to Vice-President, David Bellon. He admitted that 2019 was indeed a challenging

“An app a day keeps the medic away”!
“Despite the challenges, we worked hard together as a community. We continued our focus on the various digitization projects. Pilot programs were launched, and the results are showing that we
are on the right track. IT and technology will clearly be the enablers of the future. One app a day keeps the doctor away,”
Mr Bellon said.
For 2019, Brussels Airport had to accept an overall decline of 8.8%, in line with the European average. The largest decrease was noted in the full-freighter segment
(-15.9%), which is more prone to market volatility. For the first time in several years, express services showed a volume downturn of 6%.
This was mainly due to a national strike in February, and additional actions organized by the traffic control body, Skeyes. These actions also had an effect on belly cargo (-2.5%). The slowing
down of economic growth also led to a decrease in trucked air cargo of 11.5%.

ACB VP David Bellon delivered the welcome speech at Air Cargo Belgium’s New Year reception  -  photo:  CFG/hs
ACB VP David Bellon delivered the welcome speech at Air Cargo Belgium’s New Year reception – photo: CFG/hs

Strengthened cargo team
The year 2020 has started with a redesigned cargo team. Earlier in 2019, in line with the airport’s new business strategy in which cargo and logistics is 1 of the 4 central pillars, it was
decided to centralize the entire responsibility of all activities in the cargo zone (operational, financial, commercial, real estate) within the cargo business unit. These activities will remain
under the leadership of Steven Polmans, previously Head of Cargo, who at that time was appointed Director Cargo & Logistics.
During the last few months, a new structure was drawn up to manage all existing and additional activities and, as a result, the cargo team will be significantly expanded with new and adapted
functions. In line with this, Nathan De Valck has taken up the new role of Head of Product and Network Development. In the coming months, the Cargo & Logistics team will be further
strengthened with, among others, a Head of Cargo Real Estate, Business Analyst, Services and Park Manager, and an Operations Manager.

Has Ostend’s cargo decline finally ended?
Ostend Airport’s cargo volumes decreased by 10.7% to 24,757 tons year-on-year in 2019. However, recovery seems to have set in over the past few weeks, given that December’s tonnage of 5,630
tonnes was 13.8% higher than in December 2018.
The fact is that 12/2019 was the airport’s best cargo month since 2013. 
Hopes are high that the new ground handler, Bcube, along with the reopening of cargo-dedicated Apron 1 will bring a new spring to the airport.

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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Source: Cargoforwarder

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