The airport plays a key role in the global marketplace
Electronic commerce is booming. In Belgium alone, more than 9 billion euros were spent online in 20161. Today, more than 3 out of 4 Belgians regularly make purchases on the Internet. From shoes and toys to computers or food, everything can now be bought with a simple click. Brussels Airport is an essential link in the development of e-commerce in Belgium as, to meet the consumer demand for fast delivery of products ordered on the Internet, these are often carried by air.
"Globally, e-commerce is growing at an annual rate of 18%. This strong growth is also making itself felt at Brussels Airport, where the various companies active in this field are clearly recording accelerated growth in their e-commerce-related activities," confirms Steven Polmans, Head of Cargo and Logistics at Brussels Airport Company. “This is particularly true of DHL, which is very active in e-commerce and has recently invested more than 100 million euros in the construction of a new technology hub at Brussels Airport. It is also the case of landmark global (Bpost), which must regularly increase its capacity to meet the demand.”
World-wide, e-commerce is expected to double by 2020 to reach $ 3.6 trillion2. Because of its central geographical position in Europe, Belgium seems particularly well placed to seize the huge growth potential offered by this market. Dirk Lannoo, vice-CEO of the logistics company Katoen Natie, is even convinced that Belgium has all it takes to become "the Mecca of e-commerce"3, thanks to its seaports, thanks to Brussels Airport and thanks to the strong presence of companies such as FedEx, DPD and DHL in our country.
As we know, air freight can be carried in both cargo and passenger aircraft. The latter option is particularly attractive to e-commerce players, as the frequency of passenger aircraft is much higher, thus reducing delivery times. It is also for this reason that it is very important for Brussels Airport to set up more direct flights in the years to come, especially to Asia, Shanghai in particular. These new routes are crucial to connect Belgium to the rest of the world and allow the creation of thousands of additional jobs.
In the months and years to come, e-commerce will develop to such an extent that we can also expect new players to emerge in the field of air freight. "Amazon now has its own aircraft in the United States," says Steven Polmans. "This trend is set to continue, and traditional aviation will also have to adapt to the requirements of the e-commerce sector. I expect that players such as Amazon and Alibaba will continue to invest in their own fleet in years to come."
1https://www.becommerce.be/fr/presse/communique-de-presse/d/detail/nouveau-record-les-belges-ont-achete-pour-2plus-de-9-milliards-d-euros-en-ligne-en-2016 http://www.boeing.com/commercial/market/cargo-forecast/e-3commerce-potential/ http://www.tijd.be/ondernemen/retail/Belgie-is-wel-het-Mekka-van-de-e-commerce/9869571