Majority parties want attention to be paid to the severely affected Brussels Airport

13 July 2020

The majority groups in the Flemish Parliament have reached an agreement on a resolution that absorbs the blows the “coronavirus airport” has been getting. “The coronavirus crisis is severely affecting the activities of Brussels Airport,” the N-VA says. “We want a vision for the future of the Airport with consideration for the quality of life as well as economic growth and involvement in negotiations with Lufthansa, taking into account jobs, training and re-employment, balanced aviation law and better access to the Airport.”

The worst crisis ever for aviation

The current crisis is the worst crisis ever to hit the aviation sector. For the whole year of 2020, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects total passenger traffic to be nearly 40% lower than in 2019. According to the most recent forecasts, this year’s airline passenger revenues will be 44% lower than in 2019, a loss far greater than during the 2008-2009 recession.

Brussels Airlines losing EUR 1 million per day

Home carrier Brussels Airlines plays a key role in the interconnectivity and economic development at and around Brussels Airport. However, since the beginning of May, it has been losing EUR 1 million a day. The fleet is shrinking, and 1,000 jobs are at risk. Brussels Airlines applied for a loan from the federal government, but negotiations on a support package between parent company Lufthansa and the federal government have been difficult. “We are therefore asking the Flemish Government to remain in constant contact with the federal government on the negotiations with Lufthansa on this matter, while continuing to emphasise the impact on the Flemish economy. But also to think further and work out a plan for the future of our airport in order to give the entire airport community perspective. This should be done with all stakeholders and taking into account all airline companies as regards passengers, cargo and support services and for the impact on companies and SMEs, especially in Flemish Brabant.”

VDAB’s central role in countering job losses

There have already been job losses, such as the 1,000 people at Brussels Airlines and the 1,500 at Swissport. The VDAB The Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding (VDAB, Flemish Public Employment and Professional Training Service) is a Flemish public service that coordinates supply and demand in the employment market, with its main task consisting of serving as an intermediary for job seekers and providing them with support in getting back to work. Since the State reform in 1989, job placement has been a competence of the Regions and job training a competence of the Communities. The VDAB’s counterpart in Wallonia is Forem, and Actiris in Brussels. VDAB plays a crucial role in supporting the affected employees at the airport quickly, according to the N-VA. “In the role of central director in the labour market, the VDAB can guide people who lose their job to a new job. In the role of activation director, the VDAB can identify opportunities on the labour market and thus guide people to the right job.”

Expand airport accessibility outside regular working hours

The accessibility of the airport by public transport poses a problem, especially outside regular working hours. Better accessibility is important for the future of the airport, the N-VA says. “Employees at the airport, who often start very early in the morning, or finish very late at night, often cannot rely on public transport. One of the consequences of this is that jobs become more difficult to fill. In addition to improving accessibility for users of the airport via the Brabantnet network, among others, special attention should be paid to expanding collective transport solutions for employees commuting outside traditional working hours and improving accessibility with sustainable modes of transport.”

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