Flemish regional airports cost millions more than previously thought
In addition to Flemish subsidies, the Ostend and Antwerp airports receive around nine million euros in federal aid every year. Antwerp Airport, consequently, receives three euros in government support for every euro of turnover. This was reported by De Standaard, Het Nieuwsblad and Gazet van Antwerpen on Wednesday.
A cost-benefit analysis already showed last summer that it is impossible for the three Flemish regional airports - Deurne (Antwerp), Ostend and Kortrijk-Wevelgem - to become profitable without "extreme traffic growth", the newspapers recall. "Especially fire brigade and security costs make operations very unprofitable." Antwerp's international airport now has around 300.000 passengers annually, which would have to increase fivefold by 2040 to make operations profitable. Passenger numbers in Ostend would need to increase sixfold to three million.
To keep regional airports running, the Flemish government is generous with subsidies, the papers point out. Antwerp and Ostend airport operator Egis has received almost 80 million euros in operating subsidies since 2014. On top of that, the federal government is providing additional financial aid, the Antwerp-based 'Vliegerplein' coalition against the airport concluded based on data from the Belgian state's official journal. The federal government funds all air traffic control costs at the Flemish airports, which amounts to "62,8 million euros from 2015 to 2021. If you add up Flemish and federal aid, you arrive at 141 million euros of government support," the papers report.
However, the turnover of both airports in this same period amounted to only 57,9 million euros. "Specifically for Deurne airport, this means that for every euro of turnover, there are 3 euros of government aid," the papers conclude. Moreover, these figures do not consider costs incurred by the government, such as construction and recent renovation works in Antwerp (55 million euros and 9,5 million euros, respectively).
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