Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

DHL to Go If Brussels Bans Flights

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- A potential threat by express courier firm DHL to move its European hub away from Brussels International Airport if a proposed night flight ban is enforced has added fuel to the controversy over the move.

"If they can not fly at night, which is a core part of their business, it isn't possible to stay at Brussels," a source close to DHL said Friday.

There were already signs the Belgian government may temper a controversial order by Green Transport Minister Isabelle Durant that night flights be phased out by mid-2003 in order to combat noise pollution.

Durant's ministerial decree, announced last week, surprised her coalition colleagues causing Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, a Liberal, to intervene to prevent it from becoming law, an official government source said.

On Friday, the Liberal minister in charge of public holdings and business, Rik Daems met Durant to defuse the situation.

Following the meeting, Daems called on majority state-owned Brussels airport management company BIAC to propose alternative anti-noise measures before the Cabinet discusses the issue Friday.

Durant ordered that from Jan. 1 next year, the noisiest wide-bodied aircraft be banned between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. local time. By mid-2003 no flights will be allowed between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. local time. Exceptions to the new rules could be made in the case of humanitarian aid flights or at times of very heavy traffic.

BIAC said Friday its legal experts believed Durant's ministerial order had no legal base. A BIAC spokesman said the company would now look to put together an alternative solution.

It has long been discussing with freight forwarding company DHL, local residents and the government how to reduce nighttime noise.

DHL management told union representatives at a meeting Thursday evening that the company would pull out of Brussels if Durant's ban was enforced, said the source close to the company.

According to BIAC, 8.8 percent of flights, almost entirely by cargo aircraft, take place at night.