Addis Ababa, Ethiopia AF – Ethiopian Airlines will dedicate 6,300sqm of space in the newly expanded cargo hub at Liege Airport in Belgium after the construction of the second phase of expansion in the North Zone of the Airport is completed on June 15, 2009, Liege officials disclosed.
The new edifice has an estimated construction cost of 6.3 million dollars. Along with the first expansion, finished in late 2007, 120,000 to 130,000 tons of freight will be processed every year, according to data from the Airport.
The first phase at the North Zone of Liege began operating in April 2008. Ethiopian has been using the service since then to deliver cargo to market destinations in Europe.
On May 30, 2009, the flag carrier and Liege organized a workshop at Hilton Addis to showcase the operation and provide information for customers of the Ethiopian flower industry and to explain procedures for direct distribution to major European markets.
“This is intended to show the processes; from arrival of the aircraft, handling operations, equipment, facilities and customs-procedures, up to loading of the trucks,” Eric Gysen, Cargo Sales manager at Liege, said.
At the Addis Abeba workshop last weekend, Eric gave a presentation on the processes and the available facilities at the airport.
Ethiopian Airlines currently operates five cargo aircraft: two 757-200s, two B747s and one wide bodied MD 11 in addition to the utilization of the belly space of its passenger fleet of B767-300 and B757-200 aircraft.
The first wide body aircraft made its inaugural flight to Liege on March 5, 2009. The second MD 11 is expected to join the Ethiopian Cargo fleet in August 2009 with a payload of approximately 85 tons.
It operates six to 10 flights a week carrying flowers and fresh beans intended for major auctions in Holland.
“We have benefits from using Liege,” Gebremichael Biweta, director for Cargo Marketing at Ethiopian, told Fortune. “The airport is only used for cargo which means it provides fast cargo services throughout its 24 hours of operation.”
In other places, airlines are not allowed to work after a specified time because some are in close proximity to cities. This is not the case for Liege Airport because of its distant location from the city of Liege, according to Gebremichael.
The highway from Liege, which connects to the auction centre, is less congested than the one from Brussels; this is another reason Ethiopian decided to work with Liege, according the Director.
Liege Airport specializes in the area of perishable cargo which represents almost 29pc of the total cargo traffic of the airport.
The airports freight has reached 518,750 tons in 2008. This is a 5.89 per cent increase from 2007 mainly due to the arrival of another two new airlines which have chosen Liege as their European hub, the Israeli El Al and the Ukraine International airlines.
El Al has been using Liege since October 6, 2008 after it transferred its European hub from Amsterdam and Luxembourg, while Ukraine International started its full cargo operations just a day after El Al. El Al travels to the airport twice a week and transports about 60,000 tons of cargo per year. Ukraine International makes five trips per week. Ethiopian carried 27,000tons of goods between June 2008 and December 2008 and its basic operations account for about 50,000 tons per year.