2022 has been an exhilarating roller coaster ride for Challenge Group, bringing historic milestone achievements alongside volatile challenges.
200,000 tonnes of freight were transported by Challenge Group in 2022 and a whopping 350,000 tonnes handled by Challenge Handling at the Group’s hub in Liège. Impressive, too, is the number of animals flown on board of Challenge Airlines during the past 365 days: more than 5,000 horses, day-old chicks or exotic animals enjoyed a safe and stress-free journey. Hence, one of the highlights of Challenge Group’s year, was receiving the IATA CEIV Live certification and finally putting an official seal on what the Group has been successfully carrying since years. As an established equestrian logistics expert and manager of the Horse Inn in Liège, Challenge Group is often called upon to assist in transporting thoroughbred horses. Such occasions occurred, for example, when full charters were operated from Miami to Europe or when Challenge Handling managed the transportations of all the horses competing in the Olympic Games.
Yet, not just horse transports were among the more than 230 charters flown in 2022. Challenge Group was involved in bringing Baby Formula to the US, when there was a severe national shortage. And, given that over 65% of all Challenge Airlines shipments constitute difficult, unusual and oversize cargo usually rejected by other commercial airline operators, many of the charters were leased for unique missions. These included projects like transporting a satellite from Tel Aviv, Israel, to the United States – a mission that required very careful planning and loading – and the full stage of German metal band Rammstein for their American tour. Most poignant of all this year, was the transport of the famous Flemish Tapestries from Belgium to Malta last month, which not only restored the 320-year-old religious artefacts to the church in which they had been hanging for over 300 years, but also signified the start of Challenge Group’s newest airline; Challenge Airlines MT had just been accorded its Maltese Air Operator Certificate (AOC) days before.
The launch of the Maltese cargo carrier brought the Group’s total number of airlines to three, now all flying under the Challenge Airlines brand name. As part of the corporate rebranding, the Group’s longest serving airline, previously known as CAL Cargo, became Challenge Airlines IL this summer, and significant investments were made in a new headquarter building in Tel Aviv, as well as the addition of two Boeing 767-300BDSF to the fleet. Together with Challenge Airlines BE, the Group served ten new airport destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Canada, and Asia, in 2022, almost doubling the scope of its scheduled network.
“Looking at everything we have achieved this year, and the economic environment in which this has been taking place, 2022 has been an incredible roller-coaster, and we are all the more proud of where we stand today,” Yossi Shoukroun, CEO of Challenge Group, explains. “The year initially started very well, but the subsequent, unforeseen geopolitical events, the effects of rising inflation and ongoing rate volatility though at a lower level, demanded even higher levels of flexibility and creativity – qualities that Challenge Group is well known for. Our strength as Challenge Group, and one that we have repeatedly demonstrated throughout the year, is that we have the skills and resources to cover the entire supply chain, end-to-end. Add agility and autonomy together, and you get Challenge Group.”
As for what 2023 looks like, Yossi Shoukroun is clear: “Based on our regular discussions with customers, freight forwarders, and shippers, we expect that the first 3 quarters of 2023 will continue in much the same vein as today, with a few seasonal ups and downs.” Challenge Group will continue its expansion focus in 2023, offering increased frequencies, more destinations, and new products. “We are confident in our ability to grow and thrive even in this uncertain economic and geopolitical environment,” he emphasizes. “After all, for us, Challenge is not just a name, it’s our positive work ethic.”