, BRUSSELS, Belgium, Apr 13 – A labour dispute caused the cancellation of flights to and from Brussels international airport for a second day on Wednesday just after it reopened in the wake of deadly jihadist bombings.
Over one hundred flights were cancelled in or out of the Belgian and EU capital, about a quarter of the total scheduled for the day. About a hundred flights were also cancelled Tuesday.
Staff from Belgium’s air traffic control organisation Belgacontrol were protesting the terms of a labour contract, including the decision to delay the effective retirement age to 58 instead of the existing 55.
Controllers “said they were sick” and were not able to work, according to a statement from Belgacontrol, which said it “was looking for operational solutions.”
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told Belga news agency “a handful” of workers were “taking the country hostage” just when “the image and economy of the country is under threat” after the attacks.
Belgian authorities have been the subject of international derision for their failure to prevent the March 22 attacks that killed 32 people.
Brussels airport reopened Sunday for the first time since two Islamic State commandos blew themselves up in the departure hall in coordinated blasts that also struck the Maalbeek metro station near EU headquarters.
It will take months to repair the departure hall and full operations are not expected to resume for weeks.
In Geneva on Tuesday, the International Air Transport Association condemned the strike as a “kick in the teeth for all the airline and airport staff who have worked so hard to reconnect Brussels to the world”.