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Sunday, June 23, 2024

IATA opposes banning night flights at Brussels Airport

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The intention of Belgium to ban night flights at Brussels Airport (BRU) has received public opposition from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“The noise concerns of the community around Brussels airport must be heard, but it is profoundly unfortunate that Minister Gilkinet has attempted to circumvent the Balanced Approach, which is the long-accepted and successful international process for managing airport noise impacts,” Rafael Schvartzman, Regional Vice President for Europe at IATA, said.

The current plan from Belgium’s Minister of Mobility, Georges Gilkinet, is “premature,” according to the association, and it “ignores Belgium’s international obligations under the Balanced Approach to noise, including bilateral air service agreements and which is also enshrined in EU law.”

“Everyone has the right to quiet nights,” Gilkinet said. “It is this quality of life that I am determined to defend while guaranteeing an economically sustainable operation at the airport.” His proposal would introduce a curfew from 11 PM to 6 AM and aim to reduce noise by 30% between 9 PM to 11 PM, by 20% from 6 AM to 7 AM, and by 7% from 7 AM to PM.

“This will be a significant gain in terms of quality of life and public health for more than 1.1 million Belgians in the three Regions,” Gilkinet added, as cited by Radio-télévision belge de la Communauté française (RTBF, Belgian Radio-television of the French Community). Belgium’s three regions are Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels.

IATA pointed out: “after a detailed consultation and cost-benefit analysis, and when the noise benefits to be gained from other possible measures of the Balanced Approach have been exhausted”.

“The Balanced Approach specifically helps to mitigate noise while protecting the benefits of air connectivity for the economy and community both near the airport and across Belgium as a whole, not least in terms of thousands of jobs,” Schvartzman added.

The Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) government placed a cap on annual flight movements, which was supported by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal in July 2023. The Belgian minister has adopted a similar strategy there.

“We also urge the European Commission to defend its laws and air service agreements,” Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA, said at the time. “And most importantly, we continue to ask the Dutch government to revert to the Balanced Approach which is the most effective and only internationally accepted means of dealing with the noise concerns of the local community.”

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