Assessing the Economic Importance of Airports and the Air Transport Cluster in Belgium

By Franziska Kupfer and Frédéric Lagneaux

antwerp airportIn the past few years, the logistics business has come to play a significant role in creating added value in the Benelux. Air transport and airports in particular are driving forces in this context, not only in terms of business generated within the air transport cluster, but also in terms of airports’ attractiveness. A close look at the top 20 cargo airports in Europe in 2006, shows us that three of the six Belgian airports are included in that list. Brussels Airport and Liège Airport occupy places 6 and 8 respectively, while Ostend-Bruges Airport ranks 20th. Moreover, in 2006, Brussels Airport was the 21st largest passenger airport in geographical Europe with 16.7 million passengers, and 19th within the EU. Both passenger and cargo rankings are spearheaded by the international airports of London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt and Amsterdam Schiphol, which form the so-called “FLAP quadrangle”, at the centre of which lies Belgium. With six airports situated in a small country like Belgium, the question arises as to what economic effect those airports have on the Belgian economy. An estimate of the economic effect of the Belgian airports and air transport cluster was calculated in the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) Working paper No. 158, entitled “Economic Importance of Air Transport and Airport Activities in Belgium”, which was published in March 2009, and which forms the basis of this article.

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