Brussels Airport Offers Free Landings, Takeoffs

April 23, 2007
The gesture, which is to make amends for the April 13 wildcat strike by firefighters and security staff, will cost the airport about $680,000.

BRUSSELS, Belgium_The Brussels airport will let airlines land and take off for free every Friday in May to compensate them for flight delays and cancellations during a strike by airport employees earlier this month, a newspaper reported.

The gesture will cost the airport €500,000 (US$680,000) in lost income but is no admission of guilt in the wildcat strike April 13 by firefighters and security staff, Wilfried Van Assche, the airport's chief executive, said in an interview with the daily De Standaard that was published Friday.

"This is a purely commercial gesture unrelated to any damage claims we will get from airlines."

Van Assche added the airport was keen to improve its image that was badly dented by the strike.

It is also considering giving passengers who missed flights out of Brussels that day a voucher worth €10 (US$13.60) to be spent in airport shops and restaurants.

Firefighters and security personnel staged a 10 1/2-hour wildcat strike forcing a temporary shutdown of the Brussels airport causing chaos for travelers at the end of the Easter holidays.

After picket lines went up at 6 a.m., airlines canceled or delayed all flights for safety reasons. The firefighters' and security staff union complained of poor treatment and demanded better overtime pay rules. They reached an agreement with management more than 10 hours later.

The Brussels airport handles about 700 flights a day. On April 13, it expected to see a peak of 25,000 passengers because of the return of Easter vacationers.