Liege Airport is investing heavily to capitalize on problems being experienced with slots and capacity available to cargo aircraft at neighboring airports, including Schiphol in Amsterdam, by increasing its own capacity.

The Belgian airport is already a significant player in the European cargo market, acting as a hub for ASL Airlines and an important stop-off point for many other worldwide cargo operators.

Now, the airport is investing €30 million in expanding its available parking space for large airliners in anticipation of receiving more traffic. To achieve this, it will add four extra stands to the main apron, with construction taking place over the coming year ready for 2019.

This announcement comes on the back of plans made by Liege in November to spend €20 million to create an extra 20,000 square meters of warehousing and facilities for handling cargo passing through the airport.

Liege is still an active airport for passenger operations, but has become a specialist in handling freighters from all over the world and gives priority to cargo development. With an enviable position at the heart of Europe and situated on major road networks, the airport hopes that by expanding the facility it can profit from problems being experienced at other cargo airports in Europe, alongside the extra demand it has already been experiencing.

Amsterdam Schiphol has recently been at the heart of a battle between passenger and cargo airlines because of the limited availability of slots at the airport. With the total number of permitted flights capped at 500,000 annually, Schiphol is expected to reach that limit by the end of 2019.

Carriers are threatened with losing slots if at least 80 percent of flights fail to arrive and depart on time — something difficult by nature for cargo operators. As a result, Schiphol has seen numerous carriers moving their business elsewhere in protest.

One such carrier is Russia's AirBridgeCargo (ABC), which moved 12 weekly flights to Liege and saw Moscow threaten to ban Dutch aircraft from flying in its airspace.

While the issues between Schiphol and ABC have somewhat abated, it has highlighted a problem that will continue to rear its head for a number of busy airports struggling to cope with growing cargo demand. This is where Liege believes it can offer a reliable and spacious facility for such operators.

"With the increase in air cargo volume witnessed in 2017 reveals no sign of slowdown in 2018. We have anticipated the growth prospects for next year, and have accordingly accelerated our development plan," said Luc Partoune, CEO of Liege Airport.

This year, Liege handled 700,000 tons of cargo, and it is pressing ahead with this expansion through private prefinancing under its "Flexpress" cargo priority strategy to avoid wasting any time.