Night flight ban proposal 'unacceptable,' says Brussels Airlines chief

Dorothea von Boxberg, the CEO of Brussels Airlines, has vehemently opposed the Federal Minister for Mobility Georges Gilkinet's proposal to eliminate night flights as a solution to noise pollution in Brussels, calling it "unacceptable" from an aviation perspective.

Von Boxberg, who assumed her position in mid-April, stressed that Brussels Airlines isn't against initiatives aimed at steadily mitigating the disturbance to local inhabitants.

The said proposal emerged on Friday when Gilkinet unveiled a draft ministerial decree during an inter-cabinet meeting, calling for a total cessation of night flights (23:00-06:00) commencing from October 2024.

Airports inevitably involve "a convergence of divergent interests," von Boxberg asserted. Airports serve as catalysts for economic growth, providing numerous job opportunities, fostering connections, and attracting a workforce. This perspective should also be taken into account, she insisted.

While Brussels Airlines rejected the minister's proposition, it empathized with the noise pollution concerns of local residents, a long-standing issue leading to protests against night flights. As an airline headquartered at Brussels Zaventem airport, it prefers a more incremental approach to noise reduction.

Setting a target of steady noise reduction year on year would be a more "pragmatic and achievable" strategy, von Boxberg suggested, criticizing Gilkinet's binary approach as detrimental to this goal.

Airlines are channeling investments into quieter and fuel-efficient next-generation aircraft to mitigate disruptions and curb pollution. Brussels Airlines plans to upgrade its fleet with five newer generation Airbus A320neos by the close of 2024, phasing out its older A319s and A320s.