Investigation launched into what went wrong at Belgocontrol

The Federal Transport Minister François Bellot (Francophone liberal) has initiated an investigation into Thursday’s technical failure at the Belgian air traffic control centre Belgocontrol. The technical fault meant that there was no traffic in Belgian air space under an altitude of 7,500 metres for an hour and a half. This caused delays and the diversions of some flights that were due to land at the country’s airports.       

Mr Bellot wants to know exactly what happened. He told VRT News that "Don’t know what exactly happened and we would like to know. At the moment there is still no explanation”.

"The problems weren’t only evident at Zaventem. It all started in the south of the country. Charleroi airport was affected too”, Mr Bellot added.

The Christian trades union ACV-Transcom too would like an explanation. The union’s Kurt Callaerts told VRT News that “We want talks with the CEO Johan Decuyper. It is only thanks to the expertise of the air traffic controllers and the technicians that a disaster was averted. It ought to be a stable system, safety should take first place, but this is no longer the case. A lot of expertise has been lost due to the all the cuts in recent years”.      

What were the consequences of the incident?

A total of 12 Brussels Airlines flights were cancelled, impacting the travel arrangements of 1,000 passengers. However, the airline’s spokeswomen Kim Daenen told VRT News that “On Friday morning operations were running pretty much normally with the exception of one flight to Athens that has been cancelled”.   

Some of the passengers stranded by the technical failure were able to leave on Thursday evening. Those Brussels Airlines passengers that were still stranded were offered one of 250 hotel rooms that the airline had booked.