The Federal Minister for Mobility, Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), has put forth a draft ministerial decree aimed at curbing noise pollution near Brussels Airport. One of the key measures in the

proposal is a complete ban on night flights between 23:00 and 6:00. The announcement has generated mixed reactions among the public.

On Thursday, Minister Gilkinet had already indicated that a decision would be made by July 21 to modernize the "quota counts" (QC) system, which sets the maximum noise level for aircraft taking off and landing at Brussels Airport. These standards have not been updated since 2009.

The objective of the decision is to reduce overall noise levels by 20%. This includes complete silence from 23:00 to 6:00, 30% more silence from 9:00 to 11:00, 20% during the hours of 6:00 to 7:00, and 7% from 7:00 to 21:00. The new QC standards will vary for weekdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

Open VLD MP Tim Vandenput expressed astonishment at Minister Gilkinet's proposal to ban all night flights starting in October 2024. He argued that such a measure would jeopardize Belgium's international trade, as a significant portion of the country's GDP relies on exports. Vandenput emphasized the crucial role of Brussels Airport in facilitating trade and warned against endangering the nation's prosperity.

Opposition to the ban also came from Brussels Airport and courier company DHL, which employs 1,600 people directly and indirectly. The Flemish employers' organization Voka went so far as to label the plan as "madness," highlighting the importance of the airport as the second most significant economic cluster in the country, employing 60,000 individuals.

On the other hand, residents' groups and the sustainability umbrella organization Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL) have expressed enthusiasm for the proposal. They view it as a milestone for improving residents' health and a positive step toward a sustainable and future-oriented management of the national airport.

Night-time aircraft noise has been a significant issue, with over 100,000 residents experiencing severe sleep disturbance. Cardiologist Marc Goethals supported the ban, stating that it is a logical and necessary decision to protect residents' health. BBL also pointed out that other European airports with strict restrictions on night flights continue to operate successfully and remain economically viable. Photo by Jérôme, Wikimedia commons.