Ostend Bruges International Airport has asked for a more gradual introduction of the tightening up of the environmental permit for the airport. CEO Marcel Buelens of both Ostend and Antwerp airports claims that a more stringent legislation is an obstacle for growth in the cargo business.
Marcel Buelens is the CEO of the Belgian branch of the French Egis Group, which has a 24-year concession to run the 2 Flemish airports. The actual environmental permit was introduced in 2004 and
has become more stringent over the years. The permit focuses on noise production, expressed in ‘Quota Count’ (QC). “On 1 January the QC for Ostend was brought down from 37 to 12,” says Marcel.
Since the implementation of this latest version, most cargo aircraft like the Boeing 747-400F are no longer permitted to take-off from the airport, even if landing is still allowed.”
Marcel says that Egis does not question the legislation in itself. “What we have requested is that for half of the night movements, the situation of 2014 should be reintroduced, enabling some of the cargo aircraft to keep on serving Ostend. As from 2020 this would still apply for one third of the aircraft and the new standard could then be fully implemented from 2024.”
No complaints about noise
The CEO points out that the number of complaints about noise has been historically low over the last few years: 1 in 2014, 0 in 2013, 1 in 2012 and 1 in 2011. “So partly going back to the situation of 2014 would also be going back to a complaint-free situation.”
The strengthening up of the environmental permit was one of the reasons that made Ana Aviation decide to swop Ostend for Liege Airport for which the QC system does not apply. So, Marcel is convinced that several airlines, which are now flying to Liege Airport or French, Dutch and German regional airports, would be willing to negotiate on serving Ostend. “For every 1,000 additional tonnes, we need one employee per year,” says Marcel. “In spite of the growth in the passenger business, Ostend needs cargo traffic in order to become profitable,” the manager states.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels