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Guest column by Patrick Lambrechts, Brussels South Charleroi Airport

Picture of Patrick Lambrechts

Patrick Lambrechts

Brussels South Charleroi Airport / Operations Director


Brussels South Charleroi Airport is 50km away from Brussels.

Our airport has enjoyed exponential growth over the last few years, with passenger numbers rising from 200,000 passengers in 2000 to 7,200,000 in 2016.

Airlines Ryanair, TUI, Wizzair and Pegasus all have a presence at Charleroi, offering a range of more than 100 destinations.

The opening of these extensions mean that Charleroi airport will be able to continue to grow to hit the target of 10,000,000 passengers by 2024.

The current terminal was opened in 2008 and originally designed for a capacity of 3,000,000 passengers. It is now completely saturated, so unable to welcome new airlines or to create the right operating conditions for the development of existing ones.

There are currently around twenty airplanes based at the airport, generating significant traffic peaks: more than 3,000 passengers depart between 6.30am and 7.30am, and the same number of people are landing in the evening between 10pm and 11pm.

More specifically, the following stages in the airport process have reached saturation point:

  • The check-in desks: 25 desks
  • The security area: 8 lines
  • The baggage reclaim area: 3 carrousels
  • The departure lounges

It is against this backdrop that we decided to build an extension, on the one hand to help improve the comfort of our passengers, and on the other, to help us to continue to grow.

Charleroi-expansion-002Right at the beginning, the following priorities were defined:

  1. Eliminate current congestion points
  2. Help us to continue to grow
  3. Build a simple, quick, flexible extension
  4. Respect a limited budget

In accordance with these priorities, we chose to build an extension in two buildings.

The first building only involved the “non-Schengen” departure lounges, connected to the existing terminal; the “complicated” part (border control, separation of passenger flows and customs) of this process is based in the existing terminal.

This extension includes 3 separate areas with a total surface area of +/- 1,500m².

The second building, dedicated to “Schengen” passengers, is a totally separate terminal, including:

  • One combined departures and arrivals lounge
  • 8 check-in desks
  • 3 doubles lines for X-Ray controls
  • 3 departure lounges
  • 1 baggage reclaim area with 2 carrousels
  • 1 semi-automatic baggage sorting area
  • A retail area

Charleroi-expansion-001The total surface area is +/- 4,500m².

From an architectural point of view, the focus was on simplicity and light. The building is all on one level; the structure is made out of steel; the finish is basic: smooth concrete on the floor, no suspended ceilings, visible technical systems.

These elements have meant that the construction process was very quick: work began on 14 March and finished on 22 December, so just over 9 months for a total floor area of +/- 6,000m² and a total budget of 11,500,000 Euros.

The opening of these extensions mean that Charleroi airport will be able to continue to grow by allowing more airplanes to be based there, and to hit the target of 10,000,000 passengers by 2024.



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