When it comes to accepting challenges, being at the heart of the Golden Triangle, equidistant from main European gateways such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or Paris, with the UK also close by, is an excellent starting point. Add to this, the fact that Liège Airport is Belgium’s largest cargo airport, the fifth largest cargo airport in Europe, and is not restricted by any night flight ban, it is clear that Challenge Airlines BE has a solid basis for success. The ultimate USP, however, comes in the shape of Challenge Handling and Challenge Logistics: With direct access to Challenge Group’s handling and road feeder network subsidiaries operating out of the same location, Challenge Airlines BE is in the unique position of being able to offer a complete solution package to its many international customers, door-to-door, if required.
“Challenge Accepted! are not just words decorating our fleet, they are the Challenge Group motto, and the characteristic attitude of every last employee at Challenge Airlines BE,” says Chief Operating Officer of Challenge Airlines BE, Martin Scheffmann. “Given that we received our AOC less than a year before the start of the pandemic, Challenge Airlines BE has had no end of opportunities to prove that we can move whatever needs moving – Non-standard is our standard, as we like to say. And we not only differentiate ourselves from other carriers in our focus on complex cargo, but also in the attention to customer requirements. Since our fleet is our own, we are not driven by maximising flight hours, and can therefore offer our customers additional ground time to load and unload their complex, odd, or oversized shipments.”
Challenge Airlines BE currently has a pool of around 100 pilots, available to fly its fleet of two Boeing 747 freighters – one 747-400BCF (OO-ACE), and a B747-400ERF (OO-ACF). The fleet is due to double in size later this year, when two more Boeing 747s are reallocated from Challenge Airlines IL. A letter of intent is also in place for a fifth Boeing 747, in the future.
The airline received its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the Belgian CAA in April 2019, and began operating in May 2019. In July 2019, it obtained the USA OPS SPEC from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), allowing it to also serve the United States and, in September 2020, the China OPS SPEC was authorised, broadening its network reach to China, too.
Today, Challenge Airlines BE operates around 36 flights per week. While some of these are charters (mostly to destinations in China), it also offers free sales on its Sharjah, Tel Aviv, Wuhan, and U.S. connections. Those capacities are managed by the Group’s commercial entity, Challenge Air Cargo. Challenge Airlines BE registered a record year in 2021 and is forecast to outperform again in 2022.