Brussels Airport baggage handlers' strike affects travel for thousands

- A Monitor Report 29 Oct, 2018 | 3213 Views|-+
BRUSSELS: A strike of Aviapartner baggage handlers at Brussels Airport is likely to continue until Tuesday evening (October 30), one of the trade unions was reported as saying, after talks with management ended without an agreement.

The strike comes during a popular weekend for air travel because of several holidays in Europe. It is the end of a school holiday in neighbouring Netherlands and the start of the All Saints' festival in Belgium.

A strike by one of Zaventem International Airport's baggage handling partners has resulted in widespread flight disruptions.

The strike, which had not been called by the unions in advance, began on October 25 and has already grounded hundreds of flights. The baggage handlers are complaining about a staff shortage that increased work pressure.

Airlines affected include Aer Lingus, British Airways, El Al, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, FlyEgypt, Royal Air Maroc, Ryanair and Turkish Airlines. The airport normally handles about 800 flights per day.

The strike forced the cancellation of 150 out of the total of 550 scheduled flights, affecting 29 airlines, including Ryanair Holdings PLC and KLM.

It does not have an impact on Belgium’s main carrier, Brussels Airlines, which uses a different operator to handle luggage. Brussels Airport's other baggage agent, Swissport, is not involved in the strike.

Frustrated passengers travelling on the affected airlines were left without their checked-in bags because Aviapartner was not retrieving luggage from the planes "until Sunday morning,” according to the airport.

Zaventem international airport has advised passengers intending to fly on the affected airlines to travel with hand luggage only.

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