FedEx downsizes Liège and finalises integration of TNT


Four years after the acquisition of TNT by FedEx, the Memphis based Express giant released a statement on Tuesday, January 21, announcing “proposals to resize its European workforce as it nears the completion of the network integration of TNT.”

These proposals plan “to address the duplication resulting from operating two large European networks connecting similar geographies” and “were presented to European employee representatives and team members today. These proposals will regrettably have a workforce impact of between 5,500 – 6,300 people across operational teams and back-office functions”.

Core to this will be the future of the former TNT hub at Liège. As FedEx’s statement asserts, this duplicates some, but certainly not all, of the functions of the hub that FedEx established at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Since the acquisition of TNT, the question for FedEx has been what to do with Liège. As FedEx put it; “A central pillar of the proposals presented today involves physical integration of the FedEx Express and TNT air networks. FedEx Express currently operates two duplicate air networks out of two main hubs in Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport in France and Liège Airport in Belgium. Under the plans presented today, FedEx Express would establish a dual-hub model in Europe, with the FedEx Roissy-Charles de Gaulle hub serving as a primary hub, universally linking all European flight points and connecting European customers to the rest of the world. The Liège air hub would operate as a secondary hub, providing flexibility and continuing to provide excellent service to customers year-round. FedEx Express’s dual hub network in the US has been proven over decades with Memphis as the universal hub and Indianapolis as the secondary hub as will be the case with Liège in central Europe.”

This might appear to be an imperfect compromise; however, it should be noted that Liège has tended to have stronger road freight management capabilities than the facility at Charles de Gaulle due to greater exposure of the old TNT to services within Europe. It might be suggested that such a capability could be useful for dealing with the exploding demand for e-retail demand, although TNT’s major focus was always ‘Business-to-Business’.

Whilst the closing or scaling down of a facility as large and complex as Liège is a major decision it is a little surprising is how long this has taken.

Source: Transport Intelligence, January 21, 2021

Author: Thomas Cullen