Brussels shows off its new electric airside bus

posted on 15th May 2019
Brussels shows off its new electric airside bus

Brussels Airport has begun operating new fully electric buses to take outgoing passengers to waiting aircraft at remote stands, and to make the return journey for passengers flying into the Belgian capital’s biggest air gateway

The airport’s new e-buses, delivered by the European branch of Chinese manufacturer BYD, represent a big improvement in terms of operator Brussels Airport Company’s green strategy, replacing diesel buses that emit damaging carbon dioxide and particulate emissions.

They are also quieter than their diesel equivalents. Furthermore, the airport authority says they provide a “high standard of comfort”, while also offering passengers a range of helpful facilities; for example, passengers can access free Wi-Fi on-board, the buses are fitted with USB ports for charging smartphones, and digital displays allow those riding the buses to access the latest flight details and general airport information.

But it is in terms of their environmental benefit that the buses are seen by Brussels Airport Company as most progressive. The gateway – which achieved carbon neutrality last year – says that it continues to step up its efforts to drive down its environmental footprint.

In fact, the airport authority says it “makes unrelenting efforts to assess the impact of its operations on the environment and to reduce this impact wherever possible”. It has introduced a range of measures to limit its emissions, including investing in CNG-powered vehicles for staff.

Now replacing diesel used to carry passengers between the terminals and the aircraft with modern e-buses, “The electric bus project fits in with Brussels Airport’s ambition to drive down its carbon dioxide emissions by 40% by 2030 (compared to 2010),” observes Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company.

“For each equipment purchase decision, we seek out ecological solutions which at the same time offer increased comfort for our passengers,” he adds.

Evolution

Originally, the bussing service at Brussels was provided by handling companies operating at the airport. However, notes Brussels Airport Company spokesperson Nathalie Pierard: “Due to various factors, punctuality was low, as well as the quality of their bussing infrastructure (an ageing fleet, poor cleanliness and so on), so we decided to take this service into our own hands.

Brussels Airport Company has provided the bussing service on the apron since 2017. That same year, the gateway published a tender for the purchase of electric buses – and from March 2019 the majority of the busing services at Brussels have used the electric vehicles purchased by the airport operator.

The new e-buses, which were first introduced on the apron at Brussels on 1 March, were tested by the airport in the preceding two months of January and February, during which time their future drivers also underwent training in the vehicles. A total of 30 of the buses have been acquired; some diesel buses will remain in service, in order to ensure the airport has sufficient fleet to handle all the passenger movements required of it.

Brussels Airport Company has invested 13 million Euros in the new vehicles. The charging infrastructure for this project has been co-funded by the financing instrument of the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).