Belgian forwarders are strongly opposing stricter noise levels demanded by Brussels regional government for Zaventem International, the country’s main gateway. Critics warn of carriers
migrating to other airports, causing business and job losses.
The good news is, however, that Brussels Airport has been able to increase its cargo volume in 2016.
All the logistics companies at Brussels Airport have put a tremendous amount of effort into taking the economic activities on the airport back to their former level, says the Belgian Airfreight
Association (BAFI). “The abolition of the margin of tolerance, combined with the fining of non-compliant airlines may put an end to the further development of the economic activities of its
members, about 70 Belgian and international companies, both multinationals and SME’s. All of them generate a lot of employment in this country,” states BAFI in a response to plans tabled by
Brussels regional government.
BAFI reminds the authorities, that for an efficient and competitive transport of merchandise by air from and to Belgium, a strong international airport like Zaventem is indispensable. “Air cargo implies speed and capacity. The presence of scheduled services with cargo aircraft supplementing the passenger aircraft serving the airport is a must to guarantee both exporters and importers in our region an optimized supply chain.”
Disastrous operational restrictions
Warns BAFI: “The abolition of the margin of tolerance will lead to a disastrous restriction of the possibilities for air cargo transport from Brussels Airport, because B747 aircraft will be the target of fines. Important cargo airlines, global players within the industry, are threatening to leave the airport. This will not only lead to heavy job losses, but also to a considerable damage to the image of the country.”
The organization goes on to say: “As a direct consequence our members fear that some customers, important generators of employment in the wider Brussels region, may review their existing logistics processes and may opt to move them to airports in neighboring countries. Future investments in logistic sites may be reviewed, leading to a multiplier effect on job losses. This one–sided intention to implement a further noise cap may halt all the efforts made by the air cargo community to overcome the effects of 22 March,” when terrorists launched an attack on the airport.
The BAFI members stress again that the fact that – by invoking this kind of legislation - a regional government can cause consequential damages to numerous companies all over the country, and that this is totally unacceptable. They appeal to the political authorities to come forward with a federal aviation regulation as soon as possible. Only this can bring the legal stability needed in this case. As the representative of the airfreight forwarders, BAFI has pledged to engage actively with all the concertation bodies involved, working on a constructive solution that will guarantee the further development of its activities.
Modest growth in spite of 22 March blasts
Thanks to an impressive growth of 22% in December, Brussels Airport was able to report a total volume of 494,637 tonnes (+1.1%) for 2016. The December growth rate was almost entirely due to an increase of the full freighter volume by 88.9%.
Full freighter cargo has proved to be the growth engine for the entire volume as well. Compared to 2015 pure full freighter cargo grew by 14.3% and the integrator volume by 1.5% Added up the freighter cargo grew by 6.8% to a total of 368,531 tonnes. Belly cargo, affected by the move of Jet Airways to Amsterdam and the suspension of flights in the aftermath of the attacks, fell by 12.6% to 126,105 tonnes.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels
More volume for Ostend Airport
Ostend Airport handled 22,224 tonnes in 2016. Compared with the 16,842 tonnes of 2015, this represents an increase of 32%. The airport’s long-time client Egyptair has brought more flights to the airport during the green beans and strawberries season, says CEO Marcel Buelens of the airport operator Egis. “We also still have Stike Aviation, providing flights for the Libyan government. They led textile flights originating in Hong Kong through Ostend to Libya. We also had ad-hoc flights for the Volvo factory in Ghent, which had an urgent need for supplies.” Ostend Airport is also trying to attract new customers, says Marcel.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels