Feb 09, 2019 05:40 UTC
  • Massive strike in Belgium to ground all flights Wednesday

All flights scheduled to arrive in or depart from Belgium next Wednesday will be cancelled due to a massive country-wide strike over wage disputes.

According to reports, Brussels Airlines, a Lufthansa subsidiary and Belgium's largest airline, announced the cancellation of all the 222 flights scheduled for Wednesday, affecting over 16,000 passengers.

Other carriers have also begun to cancel or redirect flights.

That came following the Belgium trade unions’ call for a general strike for February 13, which prompted authorities to warn travelers to expect massive delays by plane, train and bus.

The Christian, socialist and liberal unions’ planned work-stoppage is expected to “seriously disrupt” travel across the country.

With air traffic controllers set to join the walkout, it is likely that Belgian airspace will be closed for the day.

Long delays and cancellations at the airport are likely to dramatically increase vehicle-traffic which could bring motorways across the country to a crawl. On top of that, demonstrations planned for Brussels’ city center will drastically increase travel times in the capital.

British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, and Swiss International Airline flights in and out of the UK may also be affected by the strike. The Airlines are warning passengers to leave home extra early for flights, only bring carry-on luggage and, if possible, cancel travel plans altogether.

Unions are calling for wage increases, an improved work-life balance and better pensions and their widespread action is expected to hit the port of Antwerp, air traffic control, railway services and public transport.

Prime Minister Charles Michel has urged union leaders to return to talks with the government and employer representatives.

Leisure airline TUI fly has already switched 36 flights to and from Brussels to other airports in France and the Netherlands. The switch was set to affect some 5,000 passengers.

The disruption could also cause problems for one particular group of travelers on Wednesday: NATO defense ministers who are scheduled to convene for meetings in the Belgian capital.