Liege remains resilient on flight limits

Liege Airport

Cargo specialist Liege Airport believes legislation restricting its future flight movements won’t hinder its development.

Speaking to Air Cargo News at the recent air cargo Southeast Asia event in Singapore, Frederic Brun, head of commercial at the Belgian airport, said that its 20-year environmental permit, set at 55,000 movements per year by the Walloon Government in January, would still allow it room for growth.

“Today, the airport is having 27,000 movements. So 55,000 means you can double capacity; 79 flights per day can be added,” said Brun.

Liege Airport’s 2020-2040 master plan, approved in December 2020 by its board of directors, foresaw 67,000 movements at its peak and no limitations on night flights. 

Consequently, the environmental permit was first contested by the cargo specialist in September last year, because of limits on flights and noise.

Before the permit’s terms were set in January, the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe also said the permit would curb cargo volumes at Liege Airport, and see it lose business to competitors.

But the 55,000 movements set in January is a more favourable outcome than the maximum limit of 50,000 aircraft movements per year for aircraft over 34 tons set by the original permit.

“This permit is a gift for us. Because there is no noise restrictions, we don’t have NOx (Nitrogen Oxides).We don’t have a curfew. The only challenge we have is with the 747-400F that won’t be able take off after 11pm,” said Brun.

However, the 747-400F has a limited lifespan remaining, he points out.

Liege Airport registered a double-digit percentage decline in air cargo volumes last year.

The airport said the decrease followed two strong years of growth where it benefitted from a rise in the use of freighters to transport cargo due to reduced bellyhold operations and a rise in e-commerce.

The resumption of passenger services and therefore bellyhold operations to other airports, the loss of Russia-based AirBridgeCargo due to restrictions related to the war in Ukraine, the impact of inflation on consumer spending, and a modal shift back to sea transport also affected performance.

This year, the airport has also had to contend with a sustained lack of air cargo demand for much of the year.

Liege Airport limits are set

Liege Airport appeals permit that will reduce “activities drastically and rapidly”

ACI Europe calls for review of environment permit set to curb cargo at Liege

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]