Brussels Airport, airlines seek legal redress against ATC strikes

Brussels Airport Company, Brussels Airlines, TUI Airlines Belgium and Ryanair have turned to the courts to exact penalties in the event of fresh strike action by the staff of Belgian air navigation service provider skeyes.

The airport operator and home carrier Brussels Airlines have confirmed that they have jointly instigated interim injunction proceedings before the Brussels Business Court.

Brussels Airport said it faces serious economic loss and reputational damage as a result of the ‘persistent and unannounced’ disruptions of service delivery at skeyes. In these joint proceedings, the airport operator and the airlines are petitioning for assurances to be provided by skeyes as to the continuity of air traffic in Belgium to stop passengers becoming the victims of further industrial action.

Since the middle of February, it said skeyes has ceased to fulfil its public service obligation to ensure air traffic control services on a continuous basis.

“Over the past three months, Belgian airspace has been wholly or partially closed at least one in every three days. In addition, the airport partners are systematically notified late of the decisions to close the airspace, which makes it impossible for them to put in place precautionary measures to offer passengers a suitable alternative.

“This unreliable service delivery by skeyes is having a major financial impact on the airport and also demands great flexibility from our passengers as well as all airport employees. Brussels Airport Company, Brussels Airlines and TUI fly are petitioning for uninterrupted service delivery by skeyes, on pain of penalty payments.”

The proceedings before the Brussels Business Court were initiated on 16 May, a day on which the airport and the airlines were again faced with another unannounced work stoppage, which lasted 3 and a half hours The Court is expected to return its ruling shortly.

These proceedings are separate from the interim injunction proceedings which Brussels Airlines instigated by ex parte petition, which it was awarded by the President of the Brussels Business Court on 16 May.