3 questions to
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Belgocontrol
2017 WAS A PARTICULARLY FRUITFUL YEAR FOR THE AVIATION SECTOR IN BELGIUM. HOW DOES BELGOCONTROL MAKE ITS CONTRIBUTION?
Our customers expect one thing above all from us: that they can count on us at all times for the high-quality services of Belgocontrol. That’s why we’ve been investing for several years in the continuity of our services so that the aviation sector and the Belgian economy can operate continuously. The airspace that we manage does not only have to be safe and competitive; it also must be accessible at all times. Belgocontrol has put a variety of measures in place internally and has reinforced its systems. However, we have also looked externally for partners.
In case of a technical fault, the air traffic control companies from neighbouring countries can take over to guarantee a limited number of movements at the airports of Liege, Charleroi and Ostend. We have made agreements with DFS in German, the DSNA in France and NATS in the United Kingdom and we are in negotiations with our Dutch colleagues for Antwerp and Brussels. We are also thinking about future technologies and considering innovative projects such as entirely digital control towers.
BELGOCONTROL PUTS THE CUSTOMER AT THE CENTRE OF ITS ATTENTION AND COUNTS ON INNOVATION. HOW DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE THESE AMBITIOUS GOALS?
The professionalism and flexibility of our employees at Belgocontrol are real assets for ensuring the future of the company. Amongst other things, we demonstrated this flexibility at Kortrijk airport. In just a few months, we developed and executed an action plan to offer air navigation services and to help the airport write a new chapter in its history.
It is, therefore, this type of partnership that we want to propose to all airports in Belgium. We want to put together long-term quality contracts with the management companies, in which the services that Belgocontrol can offer them responding to their specific needs are clearly defined and by further tightening the operational links between the different stakeholders.
WHAT ARE THE BIG CHALLENGES FOR BELGOCONTROL?
Within a few years, Belgocontrol went from the stage of a company in crisis to one of a respected player in the world of air traffic control. We’ve been working for several years towards a sustainable future for this company. The policies are finally bearing fruit: the accounts at Belgocontrol have gone back to green: all the accumulated losses from the past were reabsorbed on 1 July 2017. We are hiring new collaborators and fully investing in our systems. Our primary goal is to continually evolve our services in order to respond to the needs of our customers.
But, the world in which we evolve doesn’t stop there: the air traffic control sector is in constant evolution. Competition for traffic and airspace is becoming harder and harder, and we have to be prepared to face this major challenge.
That’s why we want to strengthen Belgocontrol. Not only by focusing on innovation, but also by evolving the legal structure of the company toward that of a public limited company in law. We are also thinking about opening the capital of the company. Collaboration with the Defence and the co-localisation with the military air traffic controllers starting 2019 at Belgocontrol will bring more flexibility and allow for a more optimised use of the airspace. In parallel, we’re developing a long-term vision of the Belgian airspace with all stakeholders to make it even more attractive, more efficient and more ecological.