Herman de Wulf/BRUSSELS

The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) has slammed the Belgian Government's decision to shift business and general aviation operations from Brussels Zavantem Airport to smaller regional airports, in what the EBAA sees as a further attempt to drive out business aircraft in favour of airlines.

The government issued its proposals in late February as part of its initiative to reduce aircraft noise at night at the European hub (Flight International, 22-28 February).

EBAA consultant Guy Viselé says: "Business aircraft represent a mere 4.6% of the number of aircraft movements in Brussels. The aircraft operated are usually much quieter and more environmentally friendly than most airliners and do not normally operate at night."

With Brussels Airport soon to join the growing line of European airports - including London Heathrow and Gatwick - where slots are fully regulated, the association is calling upon the Brussels International Slot Co-ordination Committee to retain the 13,000 annual movements - out of the airport's 300,000 total - used by business aircraft.

The EBAA believes there is no suitable alternative to Brussels Airport for business aviation. It argues that Belgium's Charleroi Gosselies is too far away and the 70km (45 miles) journey to the capital is often hindered by traffic congestion.

The alternative, Antwerp Deurne, is restricted by its short runway. "The very nature of business aviation dictates that it has access to airports served by the airlines, as these passengers often need to connect to scheduled flights," says Viselé.

"There can be no way of closing the EU [European Union] capital to executive travel [by business aircraft]. Many customers are members of the European Parliament and EU government ministers who can hardly be told to go elsewhere," he adds.

Source: Flight International