Zaventem future thrown in the air
12 January 2004
BRUSSELS – The future of Brussels main international airport was thrown into uncertainty over the weekend following comments by a leading Belgian Minister.
Minister of state Luc Coene, who was until recently the head of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt’s private office, argued in a newspaper interview that Brussels international airport at Zaventem, north east of Brussels, was outdated, impractical and should eventually be closed.
“Zaventem should be transferred to a new airport and when the time comes it should be closed,” argued the Minister.
Coene said Zaventem was quite simply in the wrong place, adding that this was one of the main reasons why so many people living in the Belgian capital regularly complain of aircraft noise, especially at night.
“Every day I hear complaints about night flights. Zaventem airport has no future. It’s finished. It should disappear,” he said.
Coene was quoted in the interview as saying that a new international airport should be built either at Chièvres, to the south west of the Belgian capital, or Bierset, to the south east near Liège. Zaventem should be shut down progressively over the coming 15 years, he added.
The first major step would be to move the operations of the international courier service DHL away from the existing airport as soon as possible he added.
But not everyone agreed with Coene’s comments; Belgium’s Public Works Minister Johan Vande Lanotte reacted angrily to the suggestions, pointing out that thousands of people work at Zaventem.
Mr. Coene subsequently released a statement saying his prime concern was to see nuisance-making activities, like night flights, moved away from Zaventem.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Belgian news