Brussels Airport Operations Improve as Controller Walkouts Ease

  • Air-traffic control fully operational at post-bombing capacity
  • Labor dispute may cause more flight disruptions later Thursday

Flight operations at Brussels Airport improved on Thursday as walkouts by Belgian air-traffic controllers eased, with the hub continuing to operate at reduced capacity following last month’s deadly terrorist blasts.

Flights are operating “as planned at the moment,” the Zaventem-based airport said in a statement. “Capacity restrictions are still possible later today.”

Belgocontrol said air-traffic-control at the airport was fully operational Thursday morning, with enough controllers until at least 3 p.m. local time, when a shift change takes place, Belga newswire reported, citing the Belgian air-traffic-control agency. The wild-cat strike over retirement benefits caused at least 50 flight cancellations on Wednesday.

By Wednesday evening, the airport had returned to near its operating level since reopening last week after being closed for 12 days in the wake of the March 22 suicide bombing that tore through its departures hall. Brussels Airport currently has a maximum capacity of 225 departing flights per day, about two-thirds of regular traffic in April, amid tighter security following the attacks. The tougher checks and makeshift infrastructure restrict maximum check-in capacity at the airport to 800 passengers per hour.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Wednesday said the strike action by air-traffic controllers was “utterly unacceptable,” while the International Air Transport Association called the walkouts “the height of irresponsibility.”

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