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BRUSSELS: January 08, 2018. Brussels Airport finished 2017 with an 8.3 percent increase in air cargo traffic compared to 2016 with a total of 535,634 tons handled - its highest volume for a decade.

Belly cargo volume rose 13.8 percent year-on-year as Integrator demand rose 9.7 percent during the period.

Amerijet MIAFreighter traffic rose three percent thanks to a first quarter increase and subsequent pre-holiday volumes in November and December. "This 3.0 percent growth follows an increase of almost 15 percent last compared to 2015," commented Steven Polmans, Brussels Airport head of Cargo and Logistics.

"Despite some noise issues we had in Q2 resulting in a few airlines leaving the airport, we are very pleased to see that growth picked up again by the end of the year still resulting in an overall growth in this segment," he added.

Polmans noted export traffic to Asia and South America resulted in a "remarkable increase" of almost 16 percent in 2017 as a result of a continued strong performance by both the EU and Belgian economies.

Thanks to the development of a dedidated pharma network with reciprocal airports in North America and Asia, Brussels also saw an 18 percent rise in pharma traffic last year compared to 2016.

Polmans said he expected 2018 volumes to be equally "strong in all segements" as Cathay Pacific starts A350 services following the arrival of Hainan Airlines late last year, and Amerijet begins a direct Miami-Brussels flight to connect with its Central American network.

The airport will also begin expanding its cargo facilities, coupled with the introduction of a third handling agent, in the first quarter of this year. Other plans include a slot booking system for all truck movements at the cargo zone and the pooling of airside handling equipment.

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