Russia’s AirBridgeCargo creates a regional hub at Belgium’s Liège Airport

AirBridgeCargo With up to 30 of AirBridgeCargo’s cargo flights a week, the deal will place Liège Airport in the top five cargo airports in Europe by 2020 (Liège Airport)

Just three months after agreeing an initial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Liège Airport (LGG) and AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC), which is part of the Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Group, have signed a 10-year lease agreement that is expected to raise the scale of their cooperation to the next level.

With up to 30 of ABC’s cargo flights a week, the deal will place Liège Airport in the top five cargo airports in Europe by 2020, with the Belgian hub airport surpassing the one million tonnes a year mark.

The latest agreement comes as an extension of the MoU signed in July of this year at the UK’s Farnborough International air show. The deal, between LGG, Belgium’s biggest cargo airport, and the airfreight carriers belonging to businessman Alexey Isaykin – which include the Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Group (comprising Volga-Dnepr, AirBridgeCargo and Atran, and their UK-registered sister company CargoLogicAir) – establishes a pivotal primary European hub at Liège for the airfreight specialist. All parties expect that the agreement will contribute significantly to the airport’s cargo credentials, stimulating additional infrastructure investment and enhancing freight flows to and from LGG.

Under the new agreement AirBridgeCargo will lease a total area of 25,000 sq m of warehousing and 2,000 sq m of office accommodation for daily flight management purposes. The investment amounts to €25 million.

ABC inaugurated its first flights to Liège in October 2017 when, because of capacity constraints, it was required to reduce its presence at neighbouring Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Luc Partoune, chief executive of Liège Airport, explains: “We responded to their (ABC’s) call for tenders launched earlier this year for the creation of their European hub. They liked the cargo DNA of Liège Airport and we enjoyed strong political support at both federal and regional levels. AirBridgeCargo, which sees expansion opportunities, can count on a quality workforce and also rely on efficient Belgian Customs procedures. Thanks to ABC, we can now plan to reach the one million tonnes mark by the year 2020 and will thus become one of Europe’s top five cargo airports.”

Sergey Lazarev, general director of ABC adds: “With the lease of dedicated warehouse facilities for the next 10 years and ABC’s intention to increase the number of weekly flights to Liege up to 30 within the next 18 months, AirBridgeCargo will be able to leverage growing market demand for special cargoes, especially e-commerce shipments.”

Liège airport is located to the north-west of the city in the east of Belgium and has a strong focus on airfreight activities. Currently the seventh largest in Europe, it is Belgium’s biggest cargo airport and positions itself as the easy in-and-out cargo hub for central Europe.

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