Departing passengers can no longer enter Charleroi airport: “We apologize for the inconvenience”

The employees of Security Masters, the company responsible for checking the passengers, reported to their workplace on Tuesday morning – just like on Monday – but then informed their manager that they were not going to work and were going home. This is confirmed by the trade union representative, who denies that there are blockages.

The company Protection Unit, which is also active at the airport, again tried to take over tasks as Security Masters, but, like on Monday, did not have enough staff to handle the influx of passengers.

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Tension in a pinch

The atmosphere was reportedly tense in the terminal on Tuesday morning. Some passengers reportedly attempted to climb over the entry gates around 05.00, while others tried to force the gates. The police are (just like on Monday) at the scene to try to get the situation under control, and have already sent reinforcements to the scene.

At first, the doors to the terminal also remained closed because there were already too many people inside. Around 08:00, people were slowly allowed into the airport for several hours, confirms managing director Philippe Verdonck. “We try to give as much information as possible to the passengers. I understand people’s frustration,’ it reads.

But around 1pm, the airport authorities decided to close access to departing passengers – due to the chaos. Departing passengers can therefore no longer enter the airport. “On Tuesday, October 18, it will no longer be possible to enter the airport terminal due to the strike by Security Masters staff responsible for airport security,” the airport’s website says. “We apologize for the inconvenience.” It is not clear what this means for departing flights.

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“People roared and screamed”

Christophe Vercarre from Herent will board a flight to Istanbul at 1.15pm to go to team building with ten people. Therefore, they were already at the airport at 7 o’clock. “There is a lot of police activity. Every fifteen minutes they let a hundred people in, and then closed the doors again for a while. It went quite well in itself, but a little after 8 o’clock people started to be bothered,’ he says. “Lots of people were yelling and swearing. Someone suggested that we should all push hard to get in. The atmosphere was really somber. I saw several people crying and some also had panic attacks. We are very grateful to the police for their help. “

The situation inside is calmer, says Christophe. According to him, the screenshots also show that no flight has been cancelled. “We are now standing in line with security. Every few minutes you see people walking by with a ticket in hand saying they have to catch their flight in ten minutes. They are left behind. Inside, people are more polite.”

“I saw people throw a buggy with a baby in the air”

Veronique Peeters-Van Hoorenbeeck from Hoeilaart also thinks that it is particularly quiet inside the airport. “I sit here almost alone and drink a cup of coffee. But it was terrible outside. There were several hundred men there. It pulled and pushed. I saw people lifting a buggy with a baby in the air. At one point I called the emergency services. There they said they were aware of the situation,’ she says. “It also seemed like a lady behind me was going to pass out, she started hyperventilating. I immediately signaled to the police officers who helped her. Then they let me in too. I’m way too early now. My flight to Stockholm is only at 12.55.”

Flight departures are empty

Some flights therefore departed virtually empty on Tuesday. “There’s not much we can do about it as an airport,” CEO Verdonck said. “We ask them to wait as long as possible until as many passengers as possible have boarded, but we cannot stop them.”

Verdonck therefore fears that the airlines will cancel their flights from Charleroi in the coming days. “Tui has already decided to let a large part of their flights depart from Brussels. We are in discussion with other airlines such as Ryanair to see what the plans may be for the coming days. Some airlines may cancel all flights for the next few days.”

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dissatisfaction

Charleroi airport has been thrown into chaos by a strike since Monday. The unrest came after BSCA Security, which is responsible for airport security, decided to award a future public tender for passenger security checks to two operators instead of one. The staff fear that the decision will have an impact on their job security and pay.

“I was hoping that the talks could have brought some sense last night, but that’s not the case,” says Verdonck. “I have spoken to the unions and they say ‘We are not moving’. They keep insisting they are going to lose jobs. I have been looking for someone from the union to explain it to the passengers since early this morning, but there is no one. Right now we are powerless. I cannot accept that my staff and my passengers become victims of these discussions.”

Security Masters point the finger at the airport

According to Filip Pellens, managing director of Security Masters, the responsibility for the security staff strike is “completely outside the responsibility of his company”. Pellens says that he regrets the situation, “but the solution lies in the hands of BSCA Security. We hope that a solution will be found as soon as possible so that passengers can travel to and from the airport in peace again.”

“The decision to entrust security at Charleroi airport to two instead of one security company in the future has been taken by BSCA Security. We only found out about this when the tender was announced,” emphasizes the managing director. “As stated in their strike notice, the unions express their concern about discrimination and competition between the employees of the companies that bring in the various lots. That discussion takes place between our customer BSCA Security and the trade unions.”

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