Director-General Olivier Jankovec of the European branch of Airports Council International has called on the Walloon government to reconsider the proposed amendments to the environmental permit issued for Liège Airport (LGG). For 2022, the airport reported a slight tonnage decline.
Last week, Mr. Jankovec had a meeting with Elio di Rupo, Minister-President of the Walloon provincial government, and Adrien Dolimont, Minister in charge of Finance and Airports. He pleaded that both the maximum limit of 50,000 movements per year and the planned reduction of the noise quota for night flights be reconsidered.
These two conditions would not only hinder the development of LGG’s activities as foreseen by its 2020-2040 development plan – and approved by the Walloon government - but would also condemn it to scale down traffic movements, said the ACI Europe Director-General. Far from disappearing completely, these operational activities would certainly be transferred to one or more airports in Europe, he warned.
While endorsing the need to regulate airport activities in terms of environment and sustainability, the proposed scheme for LGG would put an end to what is now a success story for Liège Airport, Mr. Jankovec stressed.
“It would thus deprive the region of a powerful engine for its economy, employment, and social cohesion. The approach advocated by this environmental permit is all the more incomprehensible given that Liège airport is recognized at European level as 'best in class' in terms of managing its environmental impact, particularly with regard to noise.”
“The Walloon region has moreover distinguished itself over the last twenty years by a proactive policy aimed at limiting the impact of noise pollution from the airport while ensuring the sustainability of its activities. I therefore urge the Walloon Government today to make the environmental permit fully compatible with the airport development plan that it itself has supported and endorsed.”
On 15FEB23, the Walloon government will announce its final condition in this respect.
For 2022, Liège Airport reported a decline in freight transport, with 1,140,060 tons compared to 1,412,498 tons in 2021. Nevertheless, LGG confirms its position as Belgium’s first cargo airport.
“After two years of strong growth in air cargo capacity and supply (conversion of passenger aircraft to cargo, reactivation of older cargo aircraft, strong growth in e-commerce…), Liège Airport, like all ‘cargo airports’, is experiencing a decrease in comparison to 2021 (-19%). This decrease was predictable, given the geopolitical instability created by the Russia-Ukraine war, the current global tensions and the Covid zero strategy in China,” illustrates Laurent Jossart, CEO of Liège Airport.
“For us more specifically, we must add the restructuring of FedEx and the stop of AirBridgeCargo activities. The double-digit inflation also has a significant negative impact on consumption, e-commerce, and therefore on the overall flow of goods,” adds the executive.
According to LGG, the volume of transported goods has further been impacted by two significant parameters: on the plus side, the resumption of passenger flights and therefore of belly cargo, and on the minus side, the modal shift from air to sea transport. This transfer became attractive when the disruptions in the maritime logistics chain gradually flattened and maritime transport tariffs return to normal after two years of permanent increase.
Marcel Schoeters in Liège
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