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Brussels Airport baggage strike: 150,000 passengers affected so far
Flight disruption at Brussels Airport will continue on Tuesday due to an ongoing strike by baggage handlers at contractor Aviapartner.
Unions and management are holding further negotiations - but Tuesday's flight schedule has already been finalised and even if an agreement is reached, it will be Wednesday at the earliest before flights return to normal.
The walkout began on Thursday evening and has so far affected 150,000 passengers, with the cancellation of 660 flights. About 1,500 suitcases are sitting in storage at Brussels Airport waiting to be returned to their owners.
About 30 airlines are affected - check if yours is one of them here. If your flight is scheduled to take off from Zaventem on an airline that uses Aviapartner, bring one piece of hand luggage wherever possible.
One of the affected airlines, TUI Fly, said: "We have chosen where possible to divert our flights to regional airports or neighbouring countries." Some TUI flights have departed from Zaventem, with airline staff loading the baggage into the hold themselves.
Ryanair told passengers booked on a Monday morning flight from Brussels to Lisbon that their plane would be departing from Charleroi instead. But when they arrived at the airport, the flight was nowhere to be seen on the departure boards.
Samuel, one of the passengers, told RTL: "Hundreds of people went to Charleroi thinking that their flight was operational, but there was no flight. You can imagine people's reactions in this holiday period."
Unions are striking over work conditions, including short-staffing. An Aviapartner baggage handler, speaking anonymously to RTL, said: "People are getting ill because their body cannot take this heavy work."
A typical shift involves unloading and reloading baggage for eight planes, and lifting 18 tonnes per day. "Each bag is about 15kg and there are 150 pieces of luggage per plane," the worker said.
"Instead of working in teams of five, there ends up being four of us - and sometimes just two. We have very little time to rest and drink some water - as soon as one plane is done, another has already landed and we have to unload and reload it."
Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga