Brussels Airport: major development plan for the next five years

Posted: 17 March 2011 | Brussels Airport | No comments yet

Brussels Airport has presented its development plans for the 2011-2016 period and earmarked a budget of 460 million euro…

Brussels Airport has presented its development plans for the 2011-2016 period and earmarked a budget of 460 million euro. To ensure that the services provided meet the specific needs of passengers and airlines, Brussels Airport is planning to build a new Pier A West, an above-ground link between Pier A and the terminal, a modern business centre within the airport and alterations that will place its freight activities on a stronger footing.There is no plan to build a separate low cost terminal.

Focus of economic growth

Regular studies of the airport’s economic impact, including the one carried out by the National Bank, have stressed the importance of Brussels Airport as a second focus of growth in the national economy, after the port of Antwerp. The 260 companies operating there currently employ 21,000 staff. The number of indirect and second-line jobs outside the airport is additionally estimated to be 40,000, so that the airport now generates an income for approximately 61,000 families.

The large and growing network of 235 direct intercontinental (90) and European (145) passenger and cargo destinations strengthens Belgium’s position in international trade and encourages inward investment by foreign companies and international organisations in Belgium, promotes tourism in Belgium and supports Belgian companies operating in the furthest corners of the world. An airport offering high performance and sustainability also enhances the attractiveness and effectiveness of Brussels as the Capital of Europe.

A vision for 2016

In 2010 Brussels Airport engaged in detailed negotiations over more than 6 months with airlines and air transport organisations such as AOC and BATA on the airport’s plans for the future and on a new structure for charges. The airport wishes to emphasise the historic nature of the resulting agreement, which is supported almost unanimously by the airlines that carry passengers and freight via Brussels Airport.

To support the 460 million euro development plan the airport has negotiated a limited increase in its airport charges in excess of the consumer price index.

The proposed plans for the future will offer greater convenience for passengers. This will result in shorter walking distances, allow travellers to transit more smoothly through airport security and reduce the need to use escalators and lifts. Of the dozens of large and smaller projects being planned for the next five years, these are the most notable.

Pier A West

The airport currently has two 660 metre piers for passenger boarding, offering a total of 54 gate positions for aircraft parking.

From 2015 the number of gates will be increased by extending Pier A westwards. The additional gates at Pier A West will allow direct boarding for a larger number of flights. As a result fewer flights will be boarded using buses, aircraft steps and on-foot boarding exposed to the elements. Pier A West will allow airlines to concentrate their hub activity largely within the same zone. This will mean that using Brussels Airport reduces walking distances for passengers transferring between flights.


To transit between the terminal building and Pier A and the future Pier A West, passengers will use a new above-ground link that will replace the existing escalators, lifts and tunnel. The new link building which is currently referred to by the project name “connector” will be a light, spacious area allowing rapid and easy transit and offering views of the aircraft and airport activities. The building will offer plenty of space for a new commercial zone and security controls allowing passengers to be screened more quickly and comfortably. The building is scheduled to open in 2014.

Low Cost

One important aspect of the new strategy proposed by The Brussels Airport Company is the decision to continue to integrate the development of low cost activities within the existing airport infrastructure. The development plan therefore does not include a separate low cost terminal. As a result there will also be no differentiated charges for low cost activities.

This certainly does not mean that the airport is seeking to reduce the low cost offering at Brussels Airport. Quite the opposite. Brussels Airport aims to combine the quality benefits of an international airport and the wide choice of direct destinations with the attractive prices available both from low cost airlines and from most full service carriers.


The cargo airport is one of the largest in Europe, and currently directly provides 6,000 jobs. In view of the strategic importance of its cargo activities, Brussels Airport decided in 2010 to make Brucargo a separate Business Unit. The future plans include some major changes to the existing cargo areas. There are also plans for an additional cargo building at Brucargo West, following the example of the 30,000 m² Brucargo West 1 building (six football fields), that was opened in 2009. Other alterations will prepare the airport for the use of larger, quieter Boeing-747-8F aircraft and improve cargo transit between the warehouses and the aircraft. Work is being done by the Flemish Government to improve transport links to Brucargo. From early 2012 the building of a viaduct over the Haachtstesteenweg and new access roads will provide an uninterrupted route between the E19 motorway and Brucargo with no crossroads or traffic lights.

Gateway Business Centre

Brussels Airport has decided together with its potential investing partners to redevelop the administrative building in the former terminal. The so-called Gateway concept involves building a contemporary business centre at the heart of the airport, which is probably the most efficient multimodal platform for such a project anywhere in Belgium. The former administrative offices, housed in an eight-storey U-shaped complex of buildings dating from 1957, are being reborn as a contemporary international working environment with room for 1600 workers. Sustainability is an important factor in the decision to choose this brownfield approach – it involves renewing older buildings rather than erecting new ones.

Promising prospects

“After two difficult years due to the economic and financial crisis, we have seen a clear recovery in air traffic since the fourth quarter of 2010. The prospects for the next few years are very encouraging”, concludes Arnaud Feist. “Brussels Airport has worked out a major development plan in consultation with the airlines that will allow the airport to offer a better air travel product to its passengers and airlines, placing it in a stronger international position than ever before. The benefits will be seen not only by Brussels Airport but also by the airlines and our economy as a whole in the years ahead”.

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