Key Points:

  • The board of Liège Airport in Belgium has greenlit a €500 million investment to upgrade the airport, focusing on transforming it into a multimodal hub by 2040.

  • Plans include expanding cargo capacity with new widebody freighter parking spaces and constructing warehouses and a maintenance hangar.

  • The airport aims to balance growth with environmental sustainability, targeting noise reduction and decarbonization amidst increased Chinese business.

Multi-Modal Hub Transformation at Liège Airport

LIEGE — Belgium's Liège Airport is set for a significant transformation, following the approval of a €500 million investment plan by its board. Reported by local media, this strategic initiative is designed to develop the airport into a versatile hub, integrating rail, water, and air transport. The investment will be allocated in several phases over the years leading to 2040.

Primarily serving as a cargo airport, Liège plans to use part of the investment to increase its capacity for widebody freighters by adding 15 new parking spaces. The airport's immediate focus will be on constructing three large unloading warehouses, each spanning 12,500 square meters, which it will then rent out. Additionally, a new maintenance hangar is on the agenda, capable of accommodating two widebody aircraft.

Navigating Growth and Environmental Considerations

Despite a recent dip in aircraft movements at Liège Airport, from 40,000 in 2021 to 28,000 in 2022, the strategic plan projects a rebound to 55,000 movements by 2040. This growth ambition, however, will need to be balanced with environmental responsibilities, particularly in reducing noise pollution and emissions for the surrounding communities.

CEO Laurent Jossart emphasized that the airport's strategy aligns with market forecasts and anticipated cargo volume increases. "Our master plan is adaptable, depending on market growth," Jossart explained to L’Echo. He anticipates an initial growth rate of 10-15% in the first two years, while acknowledging that future developments hinge on the broader economic climate.
Attracting Business and Meeting Environmental Goals

Jossart also highlighted the airport's goal to attract more business from China, noting the visibility gained in the Chinese market through Alibaba's use of the airport's services. This exposure has facilitated the development of relationships with new Chinese business entities.

Addressing environmental concerns, Liège Airport has earmarked €60 million specifically for meeting its environmental objectives. The ambitious plan involves decarbonizing operations at a rate that not only sustains growth but also neutralizes existing emissions. Jossart added that noise complaints would be addressed by imposing stricter regulations on Boeing 747-400 freighters, with more stringent noise policies expected post-2030.