The Wathelet Plan


Since February 6 2014, The Wathelet Plan has modified certain flight paths from Brussels national airport:

On one hand, the  “left turn” flight path from Zaventem has been enlarged. As a consequence, 35.000 planes now fly at low altitude over densely populated areas like SCHAERBEEK, ETTERBEEK, IXELLES, WOLUWE-Chant d'oiseau, AUDERGHEM and WATERMAEL-BOISTFORT

On the other hand, the so-called “route du canal” flight path goes over Brussels from one side to another, and is used by thousands of the heaviest carriers and night take-offs. This entails a strong and brutal deterioration of the quality of life in MOLENBEEK, BRUXELLES-VILLE, ANDERLECHT, FOREST, SAINT-GILLES et UCCLE.

All of this, in the name of a “fair” distribution of disturbances. In reality this plan saves certain neighbourhoods located east of the airport (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre/Stockel, Wezembeek et Kraainem) and move them over a capital city of  1.100.000 inhabitants !

This plan is absurd and must be immediately withdrawn.

Take the time to learn more about it with the dynamic maps and further explanations below.



This tool allows you to track the new fly paths. On PC, click on the little white square in the top right corner of each map to enlarge it. Then you can navigate on the map and enlarge the view by using the little arrows on the top left corner of the map.




The Wathelet Plan which has been fully implemented on February 6th 2014 reorganizes flight paths from Zaventem airport and is composed of 3 main mesures::

1. The use of the runway 19/01 is significantly reduced

Since ten years (the Anciaux Plan) WOLUWE-SAINT-PIERRE (Stockel), KRAAINEM and WEZEMBEEK areas located east of the airport are being impacted by planes at low altitude with approximately 7.000 takeoffs per year and 12.000 landing per year on the runway 19/01 (2012 traffic). This situation had an undeniable impact on citizens living in these areas. The Wathelet Plan deliberately modifies the norms of wind used on this runway with the aim to reduce the use of this runway by 50 to 75%. This change has for consequence the intensive use of runway 25R where planes take off in the direction of Brussels city, inreasing nuisances for nearly all Brussels inhabitants. Furthermore these changes were heavily criticised by the pilots and air traffic-controllers.

2. Enlargement of the left turn

Before February 6, 44.000 planes per year were taking off from Zaventem on runway 25R which is facing Brussels, but planes used to take a sharp left turn in direction of Huldenberg avoiding flying over most of Brussels except areas such as WOLUWE-SAINT-LAMBERT, WOLUWE-SAINT-PIERRE (Stockel), KRAAINEM et  WEZEMBEEK.

With the Wathelet Plan, 80% of these flights (35.000 planes per year) are redirected over other flight paths which go deeper into the Brussels region and fly over densely populated areas which were spared before. Areas such as SCHAERBEEK, ETTERBEEK, IXELLES, WOLUWE-SAINT-PIERRE (CHANT D’OISEAU), AUDERGHEM et WATERMAEL-BOITSFORT are now badly impacted with a high frequency of planes flying at a low altitude!

Out of the blue, citizens living in areas known for not being flew over by planes, find themselves in a situation with flights over their head from 6am until 11pm characterized by a dense traffic early the morning and late at night with an unavoidable increase of traffic during the summer (charter flights, low cost companies).

The remaining 20% (9.000 planes per year) are still on the northern part of the older flight way, avoiding areas which used to be impacted.

3. Heavy traffic concentrated on the « canal way or route du canal »

THE WATHELET PLAN also regroups many old flight paths on the so-called « route du canal » which respectively go over MOLENBEEK, EVERE, BRUXELLES-VILLE, ANDERLECHT, FOREST, SAINT-GILLES, UCCLE, DROGENBOS and LINKEBEEK.

Because of the Wathelet Plan, this path is also used for the heavy carrier flights (747, A330, etc …) which cause more noise pollution and fly at night and during week-ends. Citizens who used to live in areas known as being moderately impacted by planes are now flown over intensively by heavy carriers and at the worse time of the day or at night.





Population density
(inhabitants per km2)

Flights per year

Overview of the nuisances related to the 25R runway

Before the Plan


Wezembeek, Kraainem 27,454 2,188 45,000 9,000 Most significant nuisances reduction
Woluwe Saint Pierre 40,535 4,554 45,000 marginal Close to a full nuisances reduction for WSP Eastern, at the immediate expense of the more populated Western neighborhoods (Chant d’Oiseau, etc.), now under the new flight path, with a traffic of 35.000 planes a year.
Woluwe Saint Lambert 52,592 7,304 45,000 9,000 Overall, strong nuisances reduction. However the new Flight Path cause new victims, not overflown before along Bd. Brand Whitlock.
Schaerbeek 130,587 16,121 45,000 45,000 Considerable increase in the overflown area size in the number of victims from the nuisances.
Etterbeek 46,228 14,912 marginal 35,000 The new fligh path cuts into the middle of Etterbeek and flies straight over the VUB university (12.000 students)!
Ixelles 84,216 13,367 0 35,000 Cimetière d’Ixelles, is severly affected by the new path.
Auderghem 32,350 3,594 marginal 35,000 Most of the Commune is affected by the new path.
Watermael-Boitsfort 24,467 1,881 0 35,000 All the Commune is affected by the nuisances.
Anderlecht, Bruxelles, Saint-Gilles, Forest, Uccle 466,926 5,701 6,000 10,000 Strong and brutal deterioration of quality of life, as all heavy carriers and night take-offs are now concentrated around the “Canal Route”.


Worldwide, flight paths are deviated away from city centers for obvious reasons: to limit consequences in case of accident, and to protect from air / noise pollution, stress and other health hazards,  populations already affected by urban nuisances (pollution from traffic, lack of green spaces, etc.)

Brussels International airport is ill-located, for historical reasons. The proximity of the airport has forever caused nuisances to the populations living nearby.

The very idea of solving airport neighbours' problem by spreading flights Brussels' city center is most absurd.

Politicians, who made airport neighbors believe that the Wathelet Plan was the solution to their nuisances problem, must be either irresponsible or incompetent.