Working Paper N° 324
Economic importance of air transport and airport activities in Belgium – Report 2015
This study assesses the economic importance of air transport and airport activities in Belgium in terms of value added, employment and investment over the 2013-2015 period. The sector considered embraces not only the activities directly connected with air transport, but also all those that take place on site at the six Belgian airports (Antwerp, Brussels, Charleroi, Kortrijk, Liège and Ostend). The study reviews the direct and indirect effects of the sector on the basis of microeconomic data (mainly obtained from the Central Balance Sheet Office) and mesoeconomic data (from the National Accounts Institute). It also includes a social balance sheet analysis and an indication of credit risk using statistical models from the NBB’s In-house Credit Assessment System (ICAS).
In 2015, air transport and airport activities generated € 6 billion in direct and indirect value added (i.e. 1.5 % of Belgian GDP) and employed around 62 500 people in full-time equivalents (FTEs) either directly or indirectly (1.5 % of domestic employment including the self-employed).
Brussels and Liège Airport remain the country’s biggest airports, respectively in terms of passenger and cargo traffic. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in March 2016, the regional airports received part of Brussels’ passenger traffic. All in all, Brussels recovered fairly quickly, especially freight traffic, but also passenger traffic resumed gradually to tie in with growth again since November 2016. Brussels and Liège are the fastest growing airports during the 2013-2015 period, respectively in terms of value added and employment. At Ostend Airport, these economic variables slumped in line with the evolution of freight traffic volumes. Antwerp’s growth rates went into the red as well, mainly under the influence of the difficulties faced by VLM Airlines. At Charleroi and Liège, the trend of value added is downward, while that is not the case for employment. The smallest changes are recorded in Kortrijk.
 This is an update of the study conducted on the basis of 2012 data by F. Van Nieuwenhove (2014), Economic Importance of Air Transport and Airport Activities in Belgium, NBB, Working Paper No. 273 (Document series), Brussels.