The new Pier A West will be an extension of the existing Pier A, which currently handles European flights as well as the African flights of Brussels Airlines, with 31 of the airport's 54 gates. Though the number of gates in the new pier extension, to be completed by 2015, is not yet specified, the plan also involves the construction of a new building connecting the check-in hall with Pier A.
"As a result, fewer flights will be boarded using buses, aircraft steps and on-foot boarding exposed to the elements," the company said in a statement. "Pier A West will allow airlines to concentrate their hub activity largely within the same zone. This will mean reduced walking distances for passengers transferring between flights." The plan was met with immediate concern from the action group Sterrebeek 2000: "The intention is to increase capacity, but more flights will bring more noise nuisance."
The plans for a new low-cost terminal were in response to increased consumer demand for low-cost flights by companies like Ryanair and EasyJet and increased competition from Charleroi Airport. The plan was attacked by the Belgian Air Transport Association, the Board of Airlines Representatives Belgium and the Airline Operators' Committee, which together went to court to get the plan suspended. In particular, the groups opposed plans to apply a lower tariff for low-cost airlines than the one their own members paid. The action was dropped when BAC put the discussions of the new terminal on the back burner.
BAC's plan for 2011-2016 now aims, a statement said, "to integrate the development of low-cost at the airport into the general airport infrastructure. The development plan therefore foresees no separate low- cost terminal. There will also be no differential tariff applied for low-cost activities."
The investment plans will be financed by an increase in the tax airlines pay for their use of the airport, meaning a possible increase in fares.
Brussels Airport in figures
> 17.2 million passengers last year
> 94 airlines serving 235 direct destinations
> 260 companies at the airport employing 21,000 staff