Brussels, February 14: Belgium's biggest carrier Brussels Airlines said it had cancelled all of its flights out of the Belgian capital on Wednesday due to a national strike. Brussels Airlines is "eliminating its entire 222-flight schedule. The travel itineraries of more than 16,000 passengers are impacted," the Lufthansa subsidiary said in a statement.
Apart from the airline cancelling its flight due to staff shortages owing to the union strike in Belgium, Brussels airport also had to shut down its airspace for 24 hours as there were not enough people to manage other flights flying in or out. "From the information communicated by skeyes [the Belgian air navigation and traffic service provider], we have learnt that the air navigation service provider is forced not to allow air traffic between Tuesday 12 February 10 pm and Wednesday 13 February 10 pm,” the statement by airport authorities said. It added, “As a result, all passenger and cargo flight operated to and from Brussels Airport will be cancelled during this time frame."
The strike was said to hit an estimated 60,000 travelers as Belgium is located between major airports in London, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt. Brussels airport is among the busiest in Europe. Many other international airlines including Indian ones use Brussels as a transit stop. Both Jet Airways, and Air India have direct flights to Brussels.
Flights from German carrier TUI fly were also diverted out of Belgium to airports in neighbouring France and the Netherlands, the company told the Belga news agency.
Several Belgian unions are demanding salary hikes for all sectors of the economy, with the whole country paralysed due to the strike on Wednesday. Read: Silent Protest Against the Bad Roads of Brussels, Toronto & UK
Not just ordinary passengers, senior government officials too had to bear the brunt of the strike as Brussels, home to NATO, was hosting a defence ministers meeting on the day of the strike. Officials from throughout the transatlantic military alliance converged on the city even as most of its services remained shut. (With PTI & AFP inputs)