Brussels Airport no longer plans to expand

Expansion plans for Brussels Airport have been put on hold. "Our application for a new environmental permit will not include a new pier or runway," airport chief Arnaud Feist said on Wednesday. Until recently, the airport's operator had still been considering adding a new pier and a longer runway.

"We are asking to reschedule our activities within the current infrastructure," Feist said at a press conference. "In our licence application, we will not propose any additional infrastructure: no new runway, no new pier. It is absolutely not about more capacity." No additional night slots will be applied for either.

The cancellation of previous expansion plans does not mean the airport operator is not aiming for growth. More than 32 million passengers are expected each year by 2032, up from 26.4 million in the record year of 2019. The volume of cargo handled is expected to double to 1 million tonnes over the same period.

Larger aircraft

Feist said the number of aircraft movements to and from the airport would remain "more or less stable". The airport's projection assumes a 2.4 per cent increase to 240,000 movements by 2032. This is possible because increasingly larger aircraft are being used, and load factors are rising. For example, in 2000, there were an average of 77 passengers on a flight, now there are 135, and by 2032 there will be 155.

The airport's current planning permission expires in July 2024, 20 years after its approval. It must submit a new application by 8 July this year for an environmental permit of unlimited duration. A public enquiry will follow. A new permit would have to be applied for if plans to alter the infrastructure emerge over time.

'Unrealistic' and 'one-sided'

In February this year, five mayors of Flemish municipalities in Brussels' northern periphery close to the airport criticised the expansion plans, calling them "unrealistic" and "one-sided". They also denounced "incomplete figures" and "unclear forecasts" included in the now-cancelled expansion plans.

The growth Brussels Airport plans to achieve by 2032 would impact traffic in the surrounding area and the airport's flight schedules, the municipalities said.




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