1,500 jobs threatened at Brussels Airport by the strict application of noise regulations

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Singapore Airlines Cargo has just informed Brussels Airport of its decision to set move to Schiphol if the Brussels government does not give up on tightening noise standards. Other airlines have also conveyed the same message. Arnaud Feist accuses Minister Fremault. According to the CEO of the airport in an interview to Belgian financial newspapers L’Echo and De Tijd, the site will lose 25% of its freight activity with the end of tolerances on noise standards in Brussels.

A few days before the abolition of the noise tolerance thresholds in the Brussels sky for the planes taking off from Brussels Airport, there is growing concern at Brussels Airport Company (BAC), which manages the national airport.

Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport

According to the information received by L’Echo, Singapore Airlines Cargo on Wednesday sent a letter to BAC announcing its intention to relocate its activities to Schiphol-Amsterdam if the end of the thresholds is applied as of January 1st. Air Cargo Global (Slovakia) and Asiana Cargo (South Korea) also shared the same message with Brussels Airport executives. “We have actually received a letter from Singapore Airlines Cargo indicating its decision to leave for Schiphol on March 2 if nothing changes before March 1. We have already lost Saudi Airlines Cargo to Frankfurt in the coming days and the Chinese cargo shipping company Yangtze River Express leaves for Amsterdam. Two or three other companies are in the same state of mind,“said Arnaud Feist, CEO of BAC.

According to him, Singapore Airlines Cargo has already obtained all the necessary permits to fly from Schiphol. He has already evaluated the impact of the announced desertions of the airlines (only cargo airlines for now) for Brussels Airport. “If nothing changes, we will lose 25% of our cargo business in 2017, i.e. 125,000 tons of cargo per year, which means the loss of 1,250 to 1,500 direct jobs and we have to multiply by two for the indirect ones. Minister Fremault (cdH) and the Brussels government wanting to eliminate noise tolerances is absurd. I do not understand their purpose or their motivation. I do not know if Minister Fremault understands what is happening and if she is conscious of the impact of these additional measures on our activities,” he added.

4,500 jobs already lost

According to the airport’s operatives which examined the situation over the last three months, only three night flights operated with Boeing 747 cargo planes were recorded during the period, i.e. one flight per night. “With the end of tolerances, not only will these night flights not be carried out, but the standards will be so strict that many day flights will be condemned as well. Airbus 320 passengers from Brussels Airlines will no longer be able to take off between 6 and 7 am. The day when the Belgian airline will take between 5,000 euros and 10,000 euros in fines, I do not think that the parent company Lufthansa will be amused and this will not help us to keep the activities of Brussels Airlines in Brussels“, warns Arnaud Feist.

He recalled that since the effective application of the Gosuin decree in 2007 with the imposition of fines, 4,500 jobs have disappeared on the site. “The end of the tolerance thresholds is an additional measure: the speech saying that there are only Flemings working on the site is false, there are 3,000 people from Brussels, we are the biggest private employer in Brussels and we are in the top 5 in Wallonia,” he said. Since 2000, companies could exceed regional noise standards by 9 decibels during the day and 6 decibels at night without paying fines.

In May 2016, Brussels Environment Minister Céline Fremault asked the Brussels Institute of Environmental Management (IBGE) to no longer tolerate overruns as of 1 January 2017. Brussels Airport and the companies have seized the Council of State, but lost their appeal. Minister Fremault recalls that she merely applies the law and the judgements of the Council of State. On the subject, Flanders invoked the conflict of interest blocking the Brussels decision for 60 days. The issue will be discussed in a joint committee between the federal government and the regions on 25 January.

L’Echo: http://www.lecho.be/entreprises/aviation/1_500_emplois_menaces_a_Bruxelles_Airport.9845498-3017.art

De Tijd: http://www.tijd.be/ondernemen/luchtvaart/Brusselse_geluidsnormen_bedreigen_1_500_jobs_in_Zaventem.9845580-3085.art

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