Share article:
    Share article:

    Belgium in Brief: Trouble On The Tarmac

    Credit: Belga/Wikicommons

    The news that Swissport Belgium – the major ground handler for Brussels Airport – has declared bankruptcy has caused a ripple effect of currently unknown consequences, just a week before the airport plans to restart flights.

    The bankruptcy, however, doesn’t just leave people uncertain about their travel plans. This news puts 1,500 jobs at risk – of which 30% are occupied by people living in Brussels – leaving people unsure of how their future will look, even as businesses begin to reopen.

    As it stands, it is “essential that the continuity of airport operations can be ensured in the hours and days that follow, and certainly from 15 June, the date on which many European flights will be restarted,” says the airport.  How the airline and the airport will make that happen, however, remains unknown at this time.

    Today we recap the latest figures as the general trend declines, recap what happened after the BLM protests, and take a look at how sex workers will resume their work.

    With so much information, and so little time to catch up before it potentially changes again, here are some of the top stories from around the country to get you up to speed.

    Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:



    1. Black Lives Matter: the cause of protest was never questioned, just the execution

    The cause of the Black Lives Matter protest organised in Brussels on Sunday was never questioned, only its execution, according to Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès and mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close.

    On Tuesday, Wilmès met with Close following the gathering of about 10,000 people at the Place Poelert in Brussels, in a static protest against racism and police violence sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States.

    “Even though the causes defended by the organisers – namely the fight against racism and all forms of violence – have never been called into question, the execution of the event – in its form and in its unfolding – contravenes the directives determined by the National Security Council extended to the Minister-Presidents and in consultation with the experts of the GEES,” Wilmès and Close said in a joint statement. Read More.

    2. Brussels Airport ground handler declares bankruptcy 7 days before flights resume

    The announcement of the bankruptcy of ground handling company Swissport Belgium has left Brussels Airport and Brussels Airlines with a tight deadline to find a solution to ensure flights will be able to resume as planned on 15 June.

    Brussels Airlines does not yet wish to comment on how the company will deal with the Swissport bankruptcy, airline spokesperson Kim Daenen said. However, the airline maintains it is planning to resume flights on 15 June.

    Brussels Airport officials mirrored this plan, stressing that it is “essential that the continuity of airport operations can be ensured in the hours and days that follow, and certainly from 15 June, the date on which many European flights will be restarted at Brussels Airport”. Read More.

    3. 89 new infections, 16 hospital admissions in Belgium

    89 additional people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium in the last 24 hours, according to figures by the Federal Public Health Service on Tuesday.

    This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 59,437. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.

    44 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 34 live in Wallonia, and 11 live in Brussels. Read more.

    4. Sex workers propose back-to-work protocols

    Sex workers can resume working again, but they and their clients will have to comply with certain strict hygiene measures, that sex worker collective UTSOPI published on its website.

    As respecting the social distance is not possible for sex workers, hygiene measures are incredibly important, the collective stated.

    Mattress covers need to be changed systematically and washed at 60 degrees, or made of polyurethane, which can be disinfected after a client.

    Mouth-to-mouth contact is forbidden, which is why a disposable or cloth face mask should be worn by both the sex worker and the client. However, an exception for oral sex is allowed, but the use of a condom or dental dam is recommended. Read more.

    5. Antwerp plans to be 83% ‘pro-pedestrian’ by 2024

    The city of Antwerp plans to make 83% of its town centre car-free or a low-traffic zone by 2024, according to the latest from Alderman for Mobility, Koen Kennis.

    Currently, Antwerp city contains 73 kilometres of roads. Of that, 13% is residential, 28% are car-free zones or areas with restricted motorised traffic. With the planned reorganisation of the infrastructure, the city will gain 16% of residential roads and 29% of low-traffic and no-traffic zones by 2024, New Mobility reports.

    After 2024, 83% of the city should be a pro-pedestrian area. “Now that stores, bars, coffee shops, and restaurants reopen, we want to make Antwerp really attractive for pedestrians,” explained Kennis. Read more.

    6. Belgian Network for Black Lives shocked by riots and police violence

    The Belgian Network for Black Lives (BNFBL) collective, which was part of the anti-racism demonstration on the Place Poelaert in Brussels on Sunday, said it was shocked to learn of the events that took place after the rally.

    The organisation spoke both about the chaos and looting from the protesters’ side and the police response to it. “That a demonstration against police violence would lead to more police violence is something we can’t imagine,” said spokesperson Stephanie Collingwoode Williams. Read More.

    7. Police investigate allegations of brutality against Brussels teen

    Brussels police said they will launch an investigation after footage of a teen saying he was beaten up by police after a Black Lives Matter protest surfaced online.

    Speaking in a video posted on Monday, a teen with a bruised face identifies himself as 19-year-old Mounaime before explaining that five unidentifiable officers beat him and insulted him inside a van. Read More.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times