Strong April for Brussels Airport but concerns over future growth

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Brussels Airport had its best air cargo tonnage month of April for eight years as it rose by 11.9 per cent, but it is warning that the restriction of flights due to noise concerns will hinder further growth.

The Belgian gateway handled 45,983 tonnes of freight in the month, up on the 40,507 tonnes in the same month in 2016.

Belly cargo rose by 63.7 per cent to 12,146 tonnes, although this was inflated as in April last year belly traffic was negatively affected by the terrorist attacks at the end of March which forced the cancellation of services.

Freighter cargo reached 16,205 tonnes, a 2.4 per cent rise on the 15,825 in April 2016, while integrator traffic was up 2.1 per cent to 17,633 tonnes compared to 17,263 tonnes in the same month last year.

Brussels Airport says because of the ongoing uncertainty regarding the Brussels’ noise limits and the lack of a stable legal framework and a permanent solution, growth and further development are in “danger”.

The airport says growth percentage for freighters is below the European average, with growth only being achieved on existing routes – because of the ongoing uncertainty regarding noise fines.

Two freighter carriers have left this year in the shape of Air Cargo Global this month and Yangtze River Express in February this year, while Magma Aviation has indicated it will leave if the uncertainty is not removed in the next few weeks.

Brussels Airport explains it is unable to realise the growth opportunities on the market, not even with its own customers, which is in contrast with the airports in neighbouring countries that have no trouble attracting new cargo volumes.

The gateway says the winners of this ‘Kafkaesque’ situation are the airports in the neighbouring countries and the Brussels Airport Company is urging all parties to start work on a long-term solution for the airport.