Mobility minister wants to ban all night flights at Brussels Airport

The Federal minister for Mobility, Georges Gilkinet of Ecolo, presented a draft ministerial decree in inter-cabinet consultations on Friday to limit noise pollution for residents living near Brussels Airport. One striking measure is a total ban on night flights between 23.00 and 6.00.

Gilkinet had already announced on Thursday that a decision would be presented by 21 July to modernise the quota counts (QC) system, the maximum noise level for each aircraft taking off and landing at Brussels Airport. These standards have not been revised since 2009.

The decision aims to reduce overall noise levels by 20 per cent from October 2024: 100 per cent silence from 23.00 to 6.00; 30 per cent less noise from 9.00 to 11.00; 20 per cent between 6.00 and 7.00; and 7 per cent between 7.00 and 21.00. The new QCs are also different for weekdays, Sundays and public holidays.

"Anyone who wants to ban night flights without question is playing with our prosperity"

Open VLD MP Tim Vandenput reacted with astonishment to the proposal. "Belgium is a country of international trade. Almost 95 per cent of Belgian GDP consists of exports," he said. "In Flanders, exports amounted to 380 billion euros last year. Brussels Airport plays a crucial role in this. Anyone who wants to ban night flights without question is playing with our prosperity."

'Health milestone'

According to liberals Open VLD, 14,000 direct and indirect jobs are at risk, including 1,600 at DHL. The courier company has also expressed displeasure, as has Brussels Airport. The Flemish chamber of commerce Voka called the plan "madness".

Residents' groups and the sustainability umbrella organisation Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL) are enthusiastic. They call it "a milestone for the health of the residents" and "a nice first step towards sustainable and future-oriented management of our national airport".

More than 100,000 residents suffer from severe sleep disturbance due to night-time aircraft noise. "The ban on night flights is, therefore, a logical and necessary decision to protect the health of residents," said cardiologist Marc Goethals in the announcement. BBL points out that other European airports with severely restricted night flights are still operational and economically viable.



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