Strike action limits flights at Brussels airport in wake of attacks

A strike by air traffic controllers hampered flight arrivals and departures Tuesday at Brussels airport, which is still operating below full capacity following suicide bombing attacks last month.

On March 22, two attackers blew themselves up in the airport's departure hall, while a third set off a bomb blast at a Brussels underground station, killing 32 people in total. The airport was closed for several days and services have not yet returned to normal.

The terrorist attacks came amid an industrial dispute between the airport and air traffic controllers centering on a reduction of early retirement benefits.

On Tuesday, a deal was struck under which air traffic controllers will gradually see their working age extended, the Belga news agency reported.

But the agreement "does not satisfy the guild of air controllers," aviation operator Belgocontrol wrote in a statement, adding that its staff were declaring that they were ill and unable to perform their functions.

The industrial action briefly prompted the airport to shut down all flight operations. It later announced that "only a limited number of outbound and inbound flights will be possible" until 10:15 pm (2015 GMT).

Charleroi airport, which is located 50 kilometres south of Brussels but also services the Belgian capital, was affected too by the strike action, Belga wrote.

Meanwhile, the police shut down the access road to Brussels airport because of a suspicious vehicle, the airport wrote on Twitter. There is no other way of reaching the terminals at present, as rail services have not yet resumed in the wake of last month's attacks.

Bomb disposal units had been summoned and the area was cordoned off, Belga wrote, citing the federal police. The vehicle has a suspicious registration plate, the news agency added.

Last update: Tue, 12/04/2016 - 19:46
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