Ground Handling strike at Brussels Airport is unacceptable; cost of disruptions paid by airlines

- Brussels, Belgium

Since Sunday, air passengers and airlines have found themselves been caught in the middle of an industrial dispute at Swissport, one of the ground handling service providers at Brussels Airport. The action has had a major impact as flight schedules have been disrupted and passengers suffering delays of several days, waiting for their luggage. The Association of European Airlines (AEA) condemns this intolerable situation.

The wildcat industry action started on Sunday evening without prior notice, and as a result airlines were not able to prepare or anticipate the consequences. This has been the fifth strike at the company in five years. According to preliminary estimations, over 20,000 passengers on 33 airlines are affected each day and the strike is planned to continue until further notice. Some airlines have been forced to cancel their flights to and from Brussels or divert them to other airports.

The strike has a detrimental effect on passengers and consequently on airlines, which as clients of the ground handling companies carry the financial burden of the disruption. “AEA finds this situation unacceptable. Airlines and airports are making efforts to ensure the highest quality of service and care for the benefit of passenger” said Mr Athar Husain Khan, acting Secretary General of AEA. “We have been calling for the gradual opening of the ground handling market, which would enable airlines and airports greater freedom of choice in the selection of service providers. We also urge European policy-makers to provide clear guidance on liability in the frame of the proposed revision of the passenger rights’ regulation in order to provide a better guarantee of passenger convenience.”

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