A general strike over pay and working conditions has brought Belgium to a halt, leading to total chaos in airports, on the roads and in the skies.
Though Brussels Airlines provided advance warning of the general strike last week, thousands of travelers unable to change their plans have been stranded at airports across the nation that hosts the EU capital. Some 60,000 people’s travel plans have been affected, with only emergency and military flights allowed to depart or arrive nation-wide.
With air traffic controllers off-duty, even flights scheduled to pass through Belgian airspace have had to reroute and go bypass the country entirely.
The strike coincides with the visit of NATO defense ministers, who arrived in Brussels for a scheduled meeting. Even these NATO officials were not exempt from the chaos, and were forced to land in nearby countries and drive the rest of the way.
Getting around within Belgium has not been any easier. Wednesday’s strike includes Brussels public transport workers and the national rail authority, resulting in major train and bus delays.
Several factories were blockaded by striking workers, while numerous pickets and demonstrations clogged roadways. Two workers in Ghent were hospitalized when a driver angry with the traffic-blocking picket line smashed into it with his vehicle. The driver was immediately arrested.