Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moncton hoping to become Atlantic air cargo hub

One of Europe's top air cargo hubs has agreed to promote the Greater Moncton International Airport.

The airport has signed an agreement with Liege Airport in Belgium. At the end of 2009, Liege was the eighth biggest cargo airport in Europe. The two airports will work together to set up a direct air link between them.

Rob Robichaud, the head of the Moncton airport authority, said the partnership could lead to a huge jump in traffic.

Liege handles several hundred cargo flights a day from around the world.

Luc Partoune, who speaks for Liege, said Moncton could be part of that international hub, especially in sending seafood to Europe.

He's already working on at least one flight.

"We'll start operation with Icelandic Air from Moncton to Liege via Iceland because it's a main operator in fresh products, fishes and so," said Partoune.

Partoune said the deal will focus on getting planes to bring goods such as fresh fruit to the Maritimes or goods that could be trucked to the United States.

Robichaud said Moncton handles less than five per cent of the air cargo that Liege handles. However, with this deal he hopes some of the big international carriers will give Moncton a try.

"This is going to be huge for us, just having Liege recommending Moncton over any other airport in Atlantic Canada, I believe is going to be very, very beneficial."

Robichaud said an airline almost scheduled a stop in Moncton last week, but the airport's new longer runway still wasn't complete.

He said now that it is, it shouldn't be long before big jets start arriving.

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