Belgium has halted all incoming and outbound air traffic for 24 hours as air traffic controllers participate in a national strike over low wages. According to CNN, Belgium’s air traffic authority, Skeyes, announced a shutdown of all air traffic between Tuesday at 10 p.m. and Wednesday at 10 p.m. local time.
In a press release, the agency wrote:
The management takes its responsibility to guarantee the safety of air traffic. In view of the great uncertainty about the occupation of some crucial posts in the operational services, this guarantee can only be given by not allowing air traffic.
The strike was organized by the country’s three major trade unions, which are trying to negotiate higher wages for Belgium’s public sector employees. That means air traffic controllers have been swept up in the day of protest. An airport spokesman told the BBC that a strike “has never had such a significant impact” on the country’s aviation industry.
Commercial planes flying below 24,600 feet won’t be allowed in Belgian airspace during the 24-hour window, though government, military, and emergency flights will be allowed. Aircraft operating above 24,600 feet, on the other hand, are overseen by a Eurocontrol, a European air traffic organization, so they will be permitted to enter Belgian airspace.
The shutdown has triggered delays and mass cancellations throughout Europe and beyond, with CNN reporting a total of 591 cancellations at Brussels airport. Many flights have had to veer off course, taking various detours:
Belgian airspace up to FL245 is closed for 24h because of a nationwide strike.
All flights to and from Brussels Airport are cancelled
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) February 12, 2019
Brussels’ Airport is practically a ghost town, as a video uploaded to Reddit shows it vacated:
The country’s rail lines have also been affected, with cancellations and delays bringing the system to half its normal capacity.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics