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European fears of the sharp rise in Chinese ecommerce imports has not stemmed the flood.

Liege Airport, a key hub for ecommerce into Europe, said tonnage was up 15% in the first half of this year, to 566,117 tonnes, with cargo movements up 12%, to 12,987.

Last year, the airport, home to Challenge Group and a favourite of many cargo players, saw 1,005,676 tonnes, and H1 24 figures indicate that the airport is set to grow its volumes significantly this year.

“Our portfolio of airlines (over 40) and logistics providers (over 50) is growing, with the arrival of Hong Kong Air Cargo, My Freighter Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Ninatrans, Fracht Group and more enabling us to diversify our markets. The outlook for the rest of the year is equally positive,” said Laurent Jossart, CEO of Liege.

However, a court heard last week that Liege had been “overwhelmed with ecommerce”, leading to an attempt to crack down on possible Customs issues.

Alongside what had been a relaxed Customs regime, Liege is popular with cargo airlines for its flexibility, capacity and night operations. But it remains relatively small: its June tonnage was 95,514 tonnes – up 21% – while Frankfurt today announced its June total of 178,324 tonnes, up 11.4%.

But the pace of growth at Liege is market-leading: Xeneta reported that global demand in June was up a ‘mere’ 13%.

Ecommerce is driving this growth – and airlines are keen to take advantage. Lufthansa Cargo said today it was adding flights to China.

CEO Aswin Bhat said: “In the Chinese market, the ecommerce business segment in particular is growing steadily, and we continue to see high demand, especially to Europe.”

Lufthansa has added Shenzen Boa’an Airport (SZX) to its freighter network for twice-a-week flights, and now also flies to the increasingly popular Zhengzhou (CGO) three times a week, both will be with its new 777F when it arrives this summer. CGO is a hub for Cargolux and has also attracted the attention of Challenge Group, which hopes to expand operations there.

Lufthansa Cargo added that it was “well-positioned” in ecommerce, working with its heyworld and CB Customs Broker subsidiaries, and offering 19 Asian destinations with 47 weekly frequencies.

Maersk Air Cargo, meanwhile, also appears set to take delivery of a new 777F, which last week was spotted in Maersk livery on test flights for Boeing. Maersk declined to comment.

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