The airport's ambitions to position itself as an alternative for air cargo traffic in Belgium, alongside Brussels and Liege, have suffered a severe setback. A ruling of the Council of State prohibited additional night flights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. as admitted in January 2019 by the regional Flemish government. This former approval violates noise protection laws, the Council of State, Belgium’s supreme administrative court, now argued.
Particularly affected by the judges’ decision are 180 night flights, operated either by Boeing 747-400F or AN-12F, which violate the existing noise restrictions, rendering them illegal, the
judges ruled. It is a slap in the face of Joke Schauvliege, the former Flemish Minister of Environmental Affairs, Nature, and Culture, (Conservative Flemish Party). In an amendment decree,
ratified on 18 January 2019, she had given green light for higher nighttime peak noises than foreseen in the generic permit of 2004.
Quota Count violation, judges rule
This permission inked by Mrs. Schauvliege, infringed the existing Quota Count regime (QC), the judges now ruled. The QC system is based on noise emissions data captured during takeoffs and landings, including noise produced by aircraft taxiing on airport.
Consequently, with immediate effect, noisy freighters like the 2 all-cargo aircraft models mentioned above are no longer allowed to take off at sensitive night times at Ostend-Bruges Airport (IATA: OST).
Decision reduces OST’s attractiveness for cargo ops
The court decision was triggered by a petition filed by the action group WILOO, which opposed the special permit for additional night flights. Their concerns have now been confirmed by the State Court. However, its decision does not include a general ban on night flights in Ostend-Bruges; only noisy freighters are affected.
It is not yet clear what the traffic consequences will be for Bruges. Market observers expect that the airport will become less attractive for cargo traffic because it restricts airlines from operating older aircraft to and from OST. This is also because Brussels, Liege, and Amsterdam are geographically quite close.
No reactions to the State Council's ruling have yet been received from these airports.
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