The corona crisis is shaking Belgium’s national airport to its foundations. Many important players are in trouble and have to restructure. “We must do everything we can to ensure the future of the airport. This is not a story of money in bottomless wells, as was the case for coal and steel at the time, but of investing in the future of our economy,” Hans Maertens of Voka and Jan De Brabanter of BECI jointly sound the alarm.
Both the Flemish employers’ organisation Voka and the Brussels employers’ organisation BECI are concerned about the serious impact of the corona crisis on the national airport. The crucial role of Brussels Airport cannot be overestimated. It is vital to its vocation as a logistics hub in Europe, as an export nation, as an international hub for investors, as a European decision-making centre. After the port of Antwerp, Brussels Airport is the largest economic engine in Belgium. The airport provides 24,000 direct and 40,000 indirect jobs and provides an added value of 3.2 billion euros. Located on the border of the Brussels and Flemish Regions, it is a source of employment and prosperity for many Brussels and Flemish companies and their employees.
“Without the international connectivity offered by the airport, Brussels cannot claim its status as the most important diplomatic capital in Europe and the world leader for congresses,” says Jan De Brabanter, Secretary-General of BECI.
“The airport ensures the logistics chains and international connectivity for our entire industry and services. Moreover, Brucargo is today one of the most important logistics platforms in the world for the transport of medicines. For a small, open economy that lives on international trade and investment and its central position in Europe, our airport is a true lifeline,” says Hans Maertens, managing director of Voka.
Guarantee support and flexibility
It is therefore of utmost importance to guide the airport and aviation-related activities through this corona crisis. Crucial players at Brussels airport must be given the necessary financial oxygen in order to avoid that important international connections are permanently lost. As long as aviation remains in crisis mode, companies that depend on it should be able to benefit from support measures such as temporary unemployment.
Now that passenger transport is dropping and freight transport is gaining importance, it is necessary to be extra flexible. For the many goods that can now find their way around the world and for the medicines that will soon be needed in all four corners of the world, it must also be possible to deviate from the old standards.
The Flemish and Brussels employers’ organisations count on the political world to endorse the airport’s strategic importance and to assume its responsibility, together with the actors involved, to ensure the future of this economic lever.