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E-commerce Driving #freightersfirst and Vice Versa @LGG

Article submitted by Liege Airport

Article written by Steven Verhasselt, VP Commercial, Liege Airport

As a dedicated freighter hub, Liege Airport and the Cargo Community has focused very hard on dedicated infrastructure and specialized services for our 5 key products: Perishables, Live Animals, Outsized Cargo, Pharma and E-commerce.

Liege Airport has been at the center of the E-commerce (r)evolution that lifted our beloved industry. As early as 2015, E-commerce started in Liege as a new channel for exotic and exclusive goods, to be ordered online and delivered by express companies. From there, both B-to-B and especially B-to-C has changed the logistics world. E-commerce has become the new normal. All goods are ordered online and shipped by express, mail, general cargo. 

An e-commerce ecosystem has developed in and around Liege Airport to accommodate the requirements of the E-commerce Logistics. Long established players in LGG have shown their flexibility by adapting to the new opportunity. Many others joined the LGG Cargo Community to add to the service and product mix. 

Dealing with E-commerce, and especially with the booming numbers of flights, airwaybills, shipments and packages requires flexibility in the first place. LGG is happy enough to find a real partner in Belgian Customs, who moved quickly with the BE Cargo portal to digitize its services. Handling companies made the click, and focused on throughput in first line, and breakdown beyond, to cope with increasing cargo. Meeting the requirements of the e-commerce has been a wonderful effort by so many companies, government bodies, people, because even in the digital world, shipment only reaches destination if correctly dealt with by people, supported by technology.

As far as number are concerned, it is hard to give exact numbers historically, as the e-commerce has been transforming all the time.  With the arrival of Alibaba, who tarted operations with Cainiao and all their partners, we can compare the Double 11 festival of 2020, with 2019

  • 2019: 1 day selling event – 20 additional flights (widebody freighters from China)
  • 2020: 1 day sales focus but:
  1. Full month peak period in terms of logistics, 
  2. Almost 100 additional flights from Asia
  3. About a 1000 trucks for onforwarding

The good news for Liege Airport: Double11 2021, the Cainiao Smart Logistics hub, under construction now, will be fully operational. LGG will be more than ever the gateway to Europe and beyond than. Further growth is not only in the pipeline, it is in the making already

Some more numbers

 E-commerce entries at Customs: 5 Mio (2018), 26 Mio (2019), 100 Mio (Jan-Aug 2020)

Based on the flight increase, we could assume the total number of E commerce import articles defiantly doubled for Double11 alone, which will bring us to an annual total of 150 Mio + compare with last year 

The growth percentage of B2C e commerce is much stronger than the growth of B2B e commerce import. That indicates a permanent shift in retail habits.

In its development from Cargo Airport to Multimodal Logistics Hub, Liege Airport has developed the scarcely used on airport cargo rail terminal into a direct gateway to China following the One Belt One Road initiative. In order to become the airfreight of the future, LGG has added rail and road to make a complete offering to its customers. This customer driven approach has put us on the forefront of e-commerce logistics, and has a very clear positive impact on the airport as such as well.

Some more numbers

2019 (full year): Import 80 trains and 2872 CTR 

  2020 (Jan – October): Import: 99 trains and 3380 CTR

 Since 08/2020, the trains import bring 95% of e-commerce !!!

The railfreight completes the offer, but does not real compete with our core business. Airfreight remains of course the core business of Liege Airport. In 2019, the e-commerce development helped us achieve the record number of 902 thousand tonnes of cargo. In 2020, despite the challenges that came with the global Covid pandemic, we already reached that record number early November. And we are welcome, for the first time, our 1 Millionth Ton of Cargo before the end of this month. 

We are looking forward to continue to grow, and see more #freightersfirst in LGG.