Forum 2040 members visit Brussels Airport
On Saturday 21 October 2017, a group of Forum 2040 participants enjoyed a behind-the-scenes visit of Brussels Airport guided by Piet Demunter (Director Strategic Development Brussels Airport Company) and Carlos van Nunen (Head of Public Affairs Brussels Airport Company). Brussels Airport invited the members to show them how the airport works and help them understand the major opportunities and challenges it faces. The participants were additionally given the opportunity to ask further questions about the 2040 Strategic Vision.
First stop: the bus station. A strategic location, considering Brussels Airport actually welcomes more buses than it does airplanes. The participants witnessed first-hand the importance of further developing the public transport offering. In a few years time, an intermodal hub for trains, buses, trams, bicycles and taxis will be developed. “We simply have to make sure that fewer people travel to the airport in their own car,” remarked one of the visitors. The group subsequently made their way to Brucargo, where they were able to watch the arrival of a Boeing 747 from Singapore Airlines Cargo and the loading of a Boeing 777 from Ethiopian Cargo. Approximately 5,000 people working at Brucargo ensure that the containers and pallets containing pharmaceuticals and perishables are loaded or unloaded as rapidly as possible.
In Pier A, the participants watched the arrival of a passenger flight from up close: an Airbus A319 operated by Alitalia. They observed the various ground activities that are carried out to enable aircraft to depart safely and on time. The attendees also witnessed the practical application of the environmental measures that Brussels Airport introduced to reduce ground noise. For example, the staff on the tarmac plug in the aircraft as quickly as possible to the electricity that is generated centrally at Brussels Airport. This allows pilots to switch off their engines and auxiliary power units much more rapidly, which greatly reduces noise nuisance.
The bus then led the participants to the end of runway 25R, where several planes were lined up for take-off. The group observed on site just how busy the departure peak is at that moment. The Brussels Airport Company guides provided a brief explanation of why Brussels Airport permanently needs two operational runways, which are available simultaneously for take-off and landing, to be able to meet the growing peak hour demand.
The last stage of the visit brought the participants to a unique place in the operational heart of Brussels Airport: the baggage sorting hall. Over the next two and a half years, Brussels Airport Company will invest 110 million Euros in the most modern baggage screening techniques and on improving traveller customer experience.
This visit was an opportunity for Brussels Airport Company to reveal all of the places where new infrastructure shall be built, including the intermodal hub, fire station, aircraft maintenance centres, renovated Sky Hall or Pier A West and Pier C.
The Airport Business District must become a vibrant ecosystem of its own, where large companies mingle with start-ups. With room for biodiversity and greenery. With room for innovation and new activities.
As part of its Strategic Vision 2040, Brussels Airport Company has put together a Quality Board to provide guidance to the company in the conception and design of ambitious planning projects and of the airport’s public spaces.