Terrorism and sluggish economy depress Brussels cargo volumes

Cargo volumes at Brussels airport for the first seven months of the year were down across the board, in stark contrast to numbers coming from German airports this month, suggesting that the deadly terrorist attack in March, and other similar attacks across Europe, continue to cause lasting damage to business at an airport that bills itself as “the heart of Europe”, Air Cargo World reported.

Freighter cargo volume fell 6 percent, year-over-year, to 29,816 tonnes in July, while belly cargo plunged 16.5 percent last month. The latter figure could mean that passenger services are not yet restored to pre-attack levels at Zaventam Airport, a conclusion that is substantiated by a 2.4 percent decline, y-o-y, in arriving passengers (and a stunning 97.3 percent decline in “transit” passengers). In total, cargo volumes for July were down 8.8 percent, y-o-y, from 43,539 tonnes in July 2015 to 39,689 tonnes last month.

For the January-July period, the numbers are somewhat less depressed, but still off. Total cargo volumes for the first seven months were down 2.1 percent, y-o-y, to 199,548 tonnes, from 203,823 a year earlier. Maindeck volumes fell 5.7 percent, y-o-y, to 82,240 tonnes, from 87,186 tonnes in 2015. Once again, belly cargo saw the steepest slide, falling 16.5 percent to 70,649 tonnes against 84,658 for the first seven months of 2015.

The dismal numbers out of Brussels square with the country’s general economic outlook. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicted that, “economic growth will slow down in 2016 as fiscal consolidation and wage moderation curb private consumption. In addition, the terrorist attacks in Brussels, and Paris in winter, have reduced activity, for example in the tourism and restaurant sectors.”

German airports are an interesting counterpoint, with Munich’s recent numbers demonstrating how localized the phenomenon is. Munich Airport handled 29,686 tonnes of cargo (excluding military cargo) in July, a rise of 2.9 percent against the tolal for July 2015. Over the January-July period, the German airport processed 202,174 tonnes of cargo, up by 4.1 percent, y-o-y.

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