Press release 28.10.2023 (download full report below)
Report Vliegerplein and Transport & Environment
For every commercial flight, 3 private jets fly in Antwerp:
“Flanders subsidizes the vacation flights of the rich”
There are proportionately more private jets and fewer commercial aircraft flying at Antwerp Airport. The number of private flights experienced a strong growth between 2019 and 2022, and the number of domestic private flights more than doubled. These are the main findings of a study by Burgerplatform Vliegerplein in collaboration with Transport & Environment. Both organizations demand an end to the millions of euros of subsidies for this airport that mainly serves private jets.
In the report, “Antwerp Airport: accommodating private jets with public money and public space,” Citizens’ Platform Vliegerplein, in collaboration with NGO Transport & Environment, analyzes flight data from EBAA and FlightAware to map private jet traffic to and from Antwerp Airport [1,2].
“Our research confirms what we see with our own eyes every day: private jet traffic has increased significantly in Antwerp in recent years. On a week, the average is 125 flight movements, often more than 30 a day,” says An Wouters of Vliegerplein, author of the report. “Moreover, the jets are used extremely inefficiently, often over very short distances. There is no excuse for flying a private jet from Antwerp to Brussels or Kortrijk.”
Private jets at Antwerp Airport in figures
- Despite a six-week closure in September and October 2022, private jet traffic to and from Antwerp Airport has seen impressive growth in recent years, with an average of 25% more flight movements per month in 2022 than in 2019. In August 2022, there was even a 63% increase compared to the same month in 2019.
- The proportion of private jets compared to commercial aircraft increased from 60% to 76% between 2019 and 2022.
- Of the 10 most popular routes, 6 destinations are less than 500 km from Antwerp.
- In 2019, there were 310 private flights within Belgium; in 2022, this number more than doubled to 655. There were 207 flights to or from Kortrijk, 179 to or from Brussels and 109 to or from Charleroi.
A clear seasonal trend indicates that private jets are far from being used only for business purposes. In fact, private jet traffic grew most strongly during the summer months (between 2019 and 2022). The main routes responsible for this growth were those between Antwerp and the south of France. Also, the airports with the highest share of summer traffic turned out to be popular vacation spots, such as Saint-Tropez and Ibiza.
“The government does not want to close the airport because of the importance of business traffic, but our analysis shows that there are a lot of private flights that presumably have nothing to do with business,” says An Wouters. “And even if some ‘necessary’ business traffic were to take place, we should not forget that this is at the expense of the health of tens of thousands of local residents, and has a climate impact that goes much further. It is high time to weigh in on those aspects as well.”
Vliegerplein demands an end to the subsidies to Antwerp Airport and pleads ultimately for the closure of the airport and an use as a park, as was already described in the regional plans in the 1970s. Transport & Environment also calls for an end to subsidies.
“Antwerp airport is a playground for the rich who fly to Cannes, Nice and Kortrijk with ordinary people’s tax money. This is really too crazy for words. Private jets are up to 14 times more polluting than ordinary planes. Both the Flemish and federal governments must now stop subsidizing private jets, and immediately introduce a tax on private flights,” concludes William Todts, director of Transport & Environment.
 The full report ‘Antwerp Airport: a home port for private jets thanks to public money and public space’ can be found on vliegerplein.be
 Vliegerplein, in collaboration with NGO Transport & Environment, conducted an analysis on a set of data from data provider FlightAware. Private jets were identified and an analysis was done on distances, flight frequencies, destinations, CO2 emissions and transport alternatives.
An Wouters: 0486 92 54 34 – firstname.lastname@example.org