Published Thursday, 29 March 2012
The minister has called for “decisive” action. (© UTV)
A public consultation on the plans was launched on Thursday.
In total, 41 noise-related complaints were lodged against the City in 2011. A spokesman said this is one of the lowest rates in the UK.
"We welcome the beginning of this new public consultation which has come about after the airport volunteered to increase the noise control measures at the airport," the official continued.
"This public examination is aligned with the transparent manner in which we engage with the community and publish all information regarding our operations.
"The airport has an excellent relationship with the local community we serve and has one of the lowest noise complaint rates of any UK airport with 41 recorded in 2011."
Some local residents support the current seating cap as it limits the number of larger, noisier planes which can use the east Belfast airport.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said "decisive" action is needed to remove any doubt over noise controls to benefit both the community and industry.
"My ultimate aim is the establishment of an effective noise management system at the airport which achieves the right balance between the social and economic benefits of airport expansion and the need to protect the environment and quality of life for local residents," the SDLP minister said.
"I intend to be decisive and remove doubt over noise management at the airport as quickly as possible."
Operators at the City Airport cannot, under a 2008 planning agreement, sell more than two million scheduled flight seats in any 12-month period.
However their new request could see that agreement modified, with the current cap replaced with one controlling noise and other measures.
Liz Fawcett, chair of the Belfast City Airport Watch Steering Group which represents residents, welcomed Alex Attwood's comments.
"A far higher number of residents living near City Airport have to suffer unacceptable levels of noise than is the case at major UK airports such as Stansted or Gatwick," she said.
"We also face the alarming prospect of several new international routes operating out of City which are likely to push up noise levels even further.