The skies above Belgium have been eerily quiet since 22:00 last night (Tuesday February 12) and will remain so until 22:00 today. A general strike called by three unions that are seeking higher pay for their workers raised uncertainty over how many air traffic controllers would show up for work. And as a result Skyeyes (Belgocontrol), which controls the country's airspace below 25,000ft (8,000m), has decided to limit service to only emergency and military operations.
Brussels Airlines has cancelled most of today's operations with only a handful of its long-haul services running - compared to more than 220 flights that would normally take place.
Brussels Airport is quiet today as a general strike has grounded most flights. (Brussels Airlines)
Likewise TUI Fly has cancelled some of its departures while others will use airports in the Netherlands or northern France. Ryanair has cancelled its entire program from Brussels South Charleroi as the airport is closed for 24 hours. Most other carriers have also completely cancelled their Belgian operations for the whole day, although a meeting of NATA defense chiefs is going ahead as planned.
Many more flights that normal route through lower Belgian airspace such as those into and out of Dusseldorf and Luxembourg have had to take lengthy re-routes to avoid the country. However, access to the airways above flight level 250 (25,000ft) is unaffected, as they are managed by Eurocontrol in Maastricht.
The strike also impacts public services and transport, railways and shipping.
Text © The Aviation Oracle