(speech bij de 1ste LuxAir-vlucht Antwerpen – Londen) )
Let me first of all welcome you all to Antwerp Airport, and a very special welcome to the representatives of LuxAir and London City Airport.
2022 ended on a high note for Antwerp Airport, and I am happy to see the new year continues to bring us equally good news.
On December 23, not even one month ago, the Flemish government announced a vision for its 3 regional airports.
This vision is based on the firm believe these regional airports offer added value to Flanders’ economy.
This is most definitely the case for the airport where we are now
Antwerp is Flanders’ biggest city, the economical powerhouse of Belgium, home of Europe’s second port, a gigantic petrochemical cluster, we are known to be the diamond capital of the world and a fine tourist destination.
Amongst these 3 Antwerp Airport takes in a special position.
In the Flemish governements’ vision Antwerp is confirmed as an airport for business and private aviation.
Antwerp city council truly believes this airport has a bright future in co-ordinance with other regional airports in Flanders, next to Brussels Airport.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The way forward for regional airports such as this one is to connect with evolutions which are currently changing the aviation industry:
– exploring more durable ways of travel
– usage of new sources of fuel
– embedding and exploiting airports in respect with its environment
Maybe smaller airports, regional airports are better equiped to face these challenges, better than larger airports. Smaller, more flexible, more open for change.
Antwerp being a smart city is most certainly ready to contribute. We have the skills, the talents, the schools, the entrepreneurs to do this.
Let me add to this a personal note on the future of travelling.
On a European level there is a lot of talk on promoting long distance travels by train.
Fine with me. Nothing against trains, however : they do take in a lot of space. At the same time the capacity of train travel is limited.
The Belgian railways are not even capable of taking people to work on time on a daily basis.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe if we can overcome issues of durability and the environment the future of aviation looks bright.
And as far today is concerned: the timing of LuxAir with its flights from Antwerp to London is right. I hope this will be a first new development of others to come.
So, good luck to LuxAir and don’t forget: the only way is up!