Brussels Airport cargo traffic remains steady

By Rachelle Harry

Brussels Airport said its cargo operations were “more in demand than ever” in 2020.

The Europe-based hub experienced a 2.2% year-on-year increase in cargo volumes to 511,613 tonnes.

The strongest growth was recorded in the full-freighter segment, which was up 43% on 2019.

“This steep growth is accounted for by the arrival of new carriers and the use of passenger aircraft for cargo only (30 to 40% of the full-cargo flights),” the hub explained.

Additionally, express services experienced a year-on-year increase of 18%. Imports originating from Asia also recorded strong growth.

The 54% reduction of passenger services — and bellyhold capacity — at the hub in 2020 resulted in a 19% decrease in volumes of trucked air cargo.

However, in the month of December 2020, the hub’s cargo volumes decreased year-on-year by 3.4%, despite the month being busy due to e-commerce driven holidays, such as Christmas, taking place at that time.

The hub explained: “This decrease is explained by the exceptionally high volumes that were carried in 2019. [However], express services did particularly well: they recorded 34% growth.”

This year, the number of vaccine shipments from Brussels Airport is rising. The hub said that already, more than 10m doses have been shipped from Brussels Airport to destinations around the globe.

Despite Brussels Airport’s steady cargo performance last year, it recorded a 74% year-on-year decrease in passenger traffic due to the effects of the coronavirus.

Arnaud Feist, chief executive of Brussels Airport Company, commented: “The year 2020 truly was a very unusual and difficult year for the aviation industry. As from March, the sanitary measures and the travel restrictions made passenger numbers at Brussels Airport plummeted. We had to constantly adapt to be able to safely welcome our passengers in accordance with current health regulations.

“Fortunately, our cargo department has been in great demand throughout the crisis, particularly for the transport of pharmaceuticals and perishables and for e-commerce. The major role Brussels Airport played since the end of November in the transport of Covid-19 vaccines will undoubtedly continue throughout 2021. May this new year allow us, thanks to the Covid vaccine rollout, to welcome more passengers again.”

Earlier his week, Brussels Airport announced that Geert Aerts will succeed Steven Polmans as director of cargo and logistics at Brussels Airport in March.

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