A technical problem that led to the closure of the Belgian airspace for several hours on Thursday was “a disaster” for Brussels Airport, according to the VRT. The exact cause of the problem with the loading of flight plans is still being investigated, and is unlikely to be revealed in public for security reasons, but Brussels Airport was still advising passengers booked on departing flights to turn up at the airport and consult their airline.
“The safety of the airspace is of prime importance to us,” commented Dominique Dehaene, spokesperson for Belgocontrol, which is responsible for the national airspace. “There was never any question of a safety risk, but in order to maintain that situation, we had to clear the sky from about 16.00. By 17.30 we were able to resume operations.”
In the meantime, passengers on flights heading for Belgian airports were being diverted to airports in neighbouring countries, with the knock-on effect that those passengers were not only delayed but their planes were unable to pick up passengers for a new flight and depart from Belgium.
Even when the technical problem was resolved, then, the airline companies were still left with the problems caused while the airspace was closed. The actual breakdown lasted roughly 90 minutes from 16.00 on Thursday.
At Charleroi airport, four flights were cancelled and eight delayed; 746 passengers were affected in all. At Brussels Airport, 20 flights were cancelled but many more were delayed.
At Brussels Airport, meanwhile, all passengers due to depart on Thursday afternoon were provided with an alternative, Brussels Airlines said. In the meantime, flights due to depart on Friday were operating on schedule.