Liege Airport positioning itself to become a leading e-Commerce hub


Liege Airport (LGG) wants to position itself as a preferred point of entry for e-commerce consignments. The crux of the matter is in the local customs administration’s tried and tested clearance system for express cargo, says the airport’s Cargo and Logistics Manager Bert Selis in Cargo Forwarder.

Not only e-commerce, also horses (German: Pferde) LGG has made a name for itself - photo: MS
Not only e-commerce, also horses (German: Pferde) LGG has made a name for itself – photo: MS
Over the last 2 years, a lot of e-commerce consignments have come by LGG. On 18 January, Liege Airport, together with customs and VAT authorities organised a workshop to inform the LGG cargo community as well as some e-commerce logistics specialists on the technicalities of clearing e-commerce consignments.

Some specific locations in Europe, like Amsterdam and London Heathrow, have attracted a lot of e-commerce flows in the past. Compared to these two, LGG can perform just as well or even better in terms of customs clearance, 24/7 operations and EU-distribution, the managers claims. After 20 years of dealing with TNT’s express shipments and other time-sensitive products such as fresh fish and flowers, these dedicated clearance procedures needed for e-commerce shipments, are a natural match for the local customs’ administration.

Bert Selis
Bert Selis
Complex EU customs procedures – Transparency on local level

According to Mr Selis, the entire e-commerce environment has become much more complicated. “In the old days it was just a matter of order and delivery. Amazon and many others, however, have changed the rules of the game.” They stock their products in Europe, especially in France and Germany, before these are sold. That causes severe problem in the calculation of the import duties, as it is difficult to assess the value of the products. So the mission of the workshop was double,” he says. “First of all the customs administration had to throw some light on the different types of e-commerce products, which is a complex matter. Secondly, the working group had to be set up to study the future evolution.

Ample room for expansion
For LGG this is not just about providing specific infrastructure, even if the airport management thinks that there are a lot of opportunities for LGG to attract more freight. LGG is in an enviable position due to plenty of free areas they can utilise in case needed.

LGG is connected to China with direct flights from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Some of this e-commerce cargo is delivered directly at the airport, some is trucked from AMS or FRA. So there certainly is potential that can be tapped.

The potential is there
The manager cannot hide his enthusiasm about the fact that clearing procedures for TNT cargo have grown into a clearance system for e-commerce.

From LGG, ASL Airlines/TNT/Fedex flies back and forth into Shanghai & Hong Kong, 6 times per week to each destination. ET Cargo flies into China (Shanghai & Guangzhou) 9 times a week and they take back return cargo from China. The same goes for El Al, Qatar Airways and Emirates, which fly from Guangzhou and/or Hong Kong via their hubs to LGG.

Read the full article in Cargo Forwarder: