Several partial or total night closures of the Belgian airspace have occurred in recent weeks while a social conflict related to the workload and organisation of the company has hampered the operations of air navigation service provider Skeyes for some time.
During these disturbances, it is mainly freight transport that is affected. The management of Liège Airport, the country’s leading airport for freight traffic, has also expressed its anger at Skeyes, even wishing to regionalise air traffic control.
The Walloon Minister in charge of airports Jean-Luc Crucke thinks that the regionalisation of air traffic control in a country as small as Belgium is unrealistic.
After his threat to get rid of Skeyes’ air traffic controllers in favour of foreign actors, Jean-Luc Crucke today recommends a third option: “We have to set up a minimum service. We cannot continue to have a few people who essentially block the Walloon airports”. For the moment, this minimum service exists only for humanitarian reasons and when an aircraft is in danger.
The Walloon airport agency Sowaer recommends taking advantage of the renewal of the agreement between Skeyes, the Federal State and the regional governments on 1 July 2019 to renegotiate a deal. “I want the minimum service in this contract, which should also provide for financial penalties to allow us to be compensated if it happens again,” Mr. Crucke threatens.
In a letter sent to Skeyes and the Federal Minister in charge of mobility François Bellot, Mr. Crucke complained about the collateral damage in Wallonia of the ongoing social conflict. “300 flights were cancelled from Liège. It is not acceptable that the 10,000 workers who work around the airport are the hostages of that conflict.”
In view of the nearly €8 million of annual fees paid to Skeyes by the Walloon region, Mr. Crucke also intends to claim a seat at the Board of Directors of Skeyes.