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Brussels Airport volumes on the rise despite noise restrictions

Air cargo volumes for the Belgian airport rose nearly 12 percent in April, making it the best month in eight years, despite noise restrictions imposed on the airport earlier this year.

   Air cargo traffic at Brussels Airport in April grew 11.9 percent to 46,000 metric tons compared with the same month a year ago, making it the strongest April in eight years, the Belgian airport said in a statement.
   The airport attributed the increase to 32.9 percent growth in the full-cargo segment via Ethiopian Cargo, and the 5.4 percent rise in express services compared to April 2015. Belly cargo remained stable, said the airport.
   The growth in airfreight volumes came despite tightened noise limits in the city imposed by the government earlier this year. Those restrictions, as well as the fines for breaking them, have caused several large airfreight carriers to leave Brussels, according to the airport.
   Of the six full-freighter carriers that operated out of Brussels Airport with B747 aircraft, only four remain, with another threatening to leave, it said. Chinese airline Yangtze River Express left in February, and Air Cargo Global left in May due to legal insecurity and financial risks caused by the drop in tolerance margin of the noise fines. Cargo carrier Magma Aviation has threatened to leave the airport if the noise restrictions continue.
   “The need for a stable legal framework and a permanent solution is more urgent than ever. Just like we argued at the end of April, the decision by the Brussels government to postpone the actual collection of the fines is no solution,” Brussels Airport CEO Arnaud Feist said of the noise restrictions.
   “This decision may have been made with good intentions, it actually creates a period of uncertainty of one and a half to two years,” he added. “The carriers make their decision based on the tickets they receive today, not on the basis of the fines the Brussels government makes known two years later. This is what makes airlines decide to relocate their operations abroad which for Belgium results in a loss of jobs and economic value.
   “I call on all political parties concerned to halt the downward spiral that destroys the local and regional economic fabric in Belgium and reach a solution as soon as possible,” said Feist.