Holidaymakers planning to take off for sunnier climes on Friday are warned that the Brussels Airport police have announced they will be carrying out a work to rule at passport control.
The action, the police said, is not intended to upset travellers, but to highlight the problem of a shortage of manpower within the service. According to police unions, the airport detail is operating with a shortage of 140 officers.
Talks with the federal police management have been going on for some time, but matters came to a head on Wednesday when a meeting broke up without finding common ground.
There is also a shortage of basic material, said Joery Dehaes of the CSC/ACV union.
“The chief commissioner had to buy hand sanitiser himself. Not a trivial thing with the coronavirus around. And officers have to sit eight hours a day on wooden kitchen chairs. There are not enough office chairs.”
The plan is to begin actions on Friday, the last day of school before the Carnival holiday, but unions have warned that spontaneous actions could even take place today (Thursday). In any event, the situation is sure to bleed over to the weekend, the real start of the holiday period for families.
The airport earlier said it was expecting some 650,000 passengers to pass through over the course of the holiday, which lasts until Sunday 1 March.
To cope with the numbers, the airport on Wednesday once again introduced its separate Family Line for people travelling with children. Masks and crayons will be on hand for bored children.
“This year, as throughout the year, short-haul passengers are in the majority, as Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Lisbon and Geneva occupy the top five destinations,” an airport spokesperson told the RTBF. “Among the more long-haul destinations, Dubai is in the lead, far ahead of Moscow, Doha and New York. So it’s European destinations that are all the rage during the Carnival holidays.”