Improved capacity, but air traffic at Brussels Airport still heavily disrupted
A wild strike staged by Belgium's air traffic controllers means that flight services will continue to be heavily disrupted.
It is not clear when the situation can return to normal. There were only 15 departures or arrivals per hour - compared to 76 normally - early this morning, but this number was increased to 40 after 10AM.
A large number of air traffic controllers at Zaventem reported in sick yesterday afternoon, to voice their protests against a draft accord on early retirement.
Air traffic controllers would no longer have to turn up to work from the age of 58 - instead of 55 now - and they would receive 85% of their salary. However, the Guild of Air Traffic Controllers opposes the draft agreement and called on its members - some 300 people - to down tools. The other traditional unions are divided on the matter. The liberal and Christian trades unions VSOA and ACV do not support the draft agreement, but called on their members to come to work anyway.
A large number of employees also reported themselves ill - "not fit to work" - this morning. However, new shifts start every two hours; the situation can improve or worsen quickly.
Brussels Airlines forced to cancel some 90 flights
The action started around 5PM yesterday. Since then, some 100 flights were cancelled. As a precaution, Brussels Airlines decided to scrap 87 of their flights that were scheduled for today. Some 160 flights should go ahead though.
Most of the cancelled flights are short-distance services within Europe. Brussels Airlines will try to maintain long-distance flights, such as America and Africa, as much as possible.
The strike come at a very bad moment, as the airport was slowly recovering after the 22 March bomb blasts.
To make matters even worse, the only access road to the airport was closed by police yesterday afternoon, after a suspicious-looking vehicle was intercepted. This created long traffic jams, with some passengers just leavings their cars and continuing by foot.
Flandersnews.be / Expatica