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Photo: Brussels Airport

Belgium closes airspace for 24 hours

A general strike in the country continues until 22:00 today, shutting down public transport and grounding all flights.

A general strike is now in place in Belgium, paralysing air and ground public transport in the country for 24 hours, up until 22:00 local time today.

The country has closed its airspace for 24 hours as part of the nationwide industrial action, which is also affecting police, hospitals, buses and trains.

All passenger and cargo flights in and out of Belgium have been cancelled, and sectors from postal services to rubbish collection are affected in the strike called by unions over wages.

Belgium may be a small country geographically but it hosts many EU institutions and NATO. Talks between the Belgian government and unions collapsed last week when the unions rejected a proposal to raise salaries by 0.8% for 2019-20.

No planes, trains, buses
Workers in Belgium do not have to say in advance whether they plan to work during strikes, which makes it hard for authorities such as the national air traffic controllers Skeyes to predict the impact.

But both Brussels and nearby Charleroi airports say that to ensure safety all incoming and outgoing flights during the strike are cancelled. The flag carrier Brussels Airlines has axed more than 200 flights.

Rail and bus transport systems have ground to a halt, while the German press agency dpa reports that there are some minor disruptions to international rail services on Eurostar, Thalys and SNCB cross-border trains.

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