Brussels sees the bright side of less DHL traffic

Contrary to popular belief that DHL’s relocation of its European hub to Germany from Brussels Airport had badly impacted the Belgian facility, the move opened up the availability of night slots for both freighters and passenger aircraft. Wong Joon San reports.


For Brussels Airport (BRU), DHL’s decision in October of 2004 to relocate its hub from Brussels to Leipzig, Germany was a significant development, but ultimately one that could not be avoided.

The airport, one of the largest in Europe, handling over 530,000 tonnes of cargo last year, is in close proximity to the greater Brussels’ population of nearly 1.8 million meant the express and logistic company’s proposed expansion plans for extra night time activity could not be accommodated.

“The partial move of DHL has led to more night slots available for other general cargo freighter and passenger carriers,” Didier Duponselle, Brussels Airport cargo manager, says, emphasising that no other airlines are pulling out of BRU. “On the contrary, one new carrier is performing test flights to start up its operation at BRU and another new Asian player has the intention to fly to BRU from October. Most current players are growing or have the intention to grow their business at Brussels Airport.”

With the global economic crisis and DHL’s relocation of a significant part ofits business, BRU’s ranking has dropped to 9th position, allowing fast growingintegrator hubs such as Leipzig andCologne to overtake its ranking. Leavingaside the integrator airports, BRU is stillnumber six in Europe, after Frankfurt,Charles De Gaulle, Amsterdam, Londonand Luxembourg.