Liege Airport was one of the few airports in Europe and the world to perform well despite the nightmarish 2020, thanks to its full-cargo operations.
The cargo hub saw a 24 percent increase in tonnage to 1,120,643 tonnes from 902,480 in 2019. The total number of cargo flights grew 10.7 percent to 34,264 flights, with an increase in daytime flights.
However, Liege said there was a lot of pressure on full cargo planes given the impact of Covid-19 on passenger transport, and airlines had to find alternatives to transport shipments given the lack of belly capacity.
Large quantities of medical equipment were flown by jumbo jets and freighters through the airport during the pandemic, which led to the increase in tonnage. Another factor that drove growth was e-commerce, Luc Partoune, CEO of Liege Airport mentioned.
“The lockdown also had a direct effect on consumption patterns, which is reflected by a boom in the e-commerce sector, a sector which has become much more important to us as we have handled over 500 million packages this year, compared to just over 320 million in 2019,” he added.
Passenger traffic, as in all airports, decreased sharply, with a 74 percent drop, whilst aircraft movements remained stable with 40,300 flights (landings and take-offs) in 2020, compared to 39,886 flights in 2019.
“The growth of our cargo activities was in fact offset by the decrease in passenger flights, training flights and business aviation,” Partoune noted.