A number of air traffic controllers at Belgocontrol were on sick leave on Wednesday. The capacity at Zaventem airport could be reduced to 15 flights per hour instead of, theoretically, 76 flights. Belgocontrol called on trade unions to replace absent workers, said Dominique Dehaene, the company’s spokesperson.
On Thursday morning (14 April), Belgocontrol announced that air traffic control at Zaventem should be fully operational until at least 15.00 on Thursday, the time of shift change.
Belgocontrol resumed work to full capacity from 15.00 pm on Wednesday (13 April) after a call to staff from ministers Peeters and Galant and the unions to return work. A meeting between three unions and the ministers took place on Wednesday morning.
“We can assure all flights until 22:00,” explained Dominique Dehaene, spokesman for Belgocontrol. “We have no security after 22:00. We expect new problems.”
However, there were enough air traffic controllers available for overnight service.
Air traffic control operated by Belgocontrol in the Walloon airports could be taken up by neighboring operators in case of a strike, said on Wednesday the minister Antonio Di Carlo in a plenary meeting of the Walloon parliament.
On Tuesday (12 April), the company had reached an agreement on a joint commission to resolve the conflict that has been ongoing since mid-March.
However, the agreement did not satisfy the Union of Air Traffic Controllers which organizes 80 of the 280 air traffic controllers in Belgium. The union instructed its members to declare sick leave.
The spokesman explained that Belgocontrol has no legal means to counter such actions. “There are no rules on minimum service. This does not make things easier.”
Belgocontrol therefore called on the other unions (CSC, FGTB, CGSLB) to honor their commitment – they had promised not to carry out any conflict actions – and to ask their members to replace absent air traffic controllers.
Belgocontrol condemns the strike and shares “the indignation of the public and the aviation industry.”
In the meantime Jetairfly announced that its first flights took off as planned. Thirteen flights left Belgian airports on Wednesday morning, three of them from Zaventem airport.
The Brussels Times (Source: Belga)