Belgian bureaucracy holds up DHL deal
20 September 2004
BRUSSELS – A decision to allow the expansion of global courrier giant DHL’s activities at Zaventem airport outside Brussels hangs in the balance this week, with 2,000 jobs on the line.
After marathon negotiations at the weekend, the Belgian authorities were locked in a stalemate over permission for the extra night flights required for DHL to expand its Belgian hub.
The courrier firm has issued a Tuesday deadline for a decision to be reached or it has threatened to pull out of the deal altogether.
The delays have been caused by the requirement for the Belgian federal government to reach an agreement with the Flemish and the Brussels authorities.
The issue has been a highly sensitive one with local residents opposed to any increase in aircraft activity at night.
Under plans put forward by Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, the annual number of night flights would rise from 25,000 to 30,000, and 22,000 of these would be reserved for DHL.
Both the Walloon and Flemish regional governments want to stick to a ceiling of 25,000 and the Brussels authorities are also opposed to any increase.
Finance minister, Didier Reynders, believes one solution to break the impasse would be to divert other night flights to different Belgian airports, giving DHL a nocturnal monopoly at Zaventem.
Another more detailed plan, proposed by deputy prime minister Laurette Onkelinx would allow a rise in flights to 28,000 with 17 conditions attached.
These would include a compulsory revamp of the DHL fleet between 2008 and 2010 to reduce noise pollution from older aircraft and a plan to insulate houses under the flight path.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news