Brussels Airport has decided to cancel all its departing flights after most security staff joined a nationwide strike across Belgium for better wages.
In a post on its Twitter account on Monday, the airport informed its passengers that all departing flights will be scrapped for the day, urging them not to come to the airport.
Apart from a few connecting flights, a total of 232 flights were canceled.
Incoming commercial flights are also affected, with one in four flights operating. All freight traffic is maintained.
The departure hall at the airport was largely empty, with only around 100 passengers inside, looking for solutions to find accommodation or a new flight.
“I haven’t seen my wife for 4 months because I’ve been working. I was supposed to meet her in Istanbul this morning," Oleksandr Zayikin, a Ukrainian merchant mariner told AFP, adding that he may now spend a few days in a hotel.
Maria Antonia, a 20-year-old Romanian student who had a flight booked to return to Bucharest, said she didn't know her flight was canceled until she got to the airport.
"That was a little bit of a hassle. But we can manage it I think," she said.
Passengers are urged to contact their airline to reschedule their flights or seek a refund.
Part of the passenger traffic of the German tour operator TUI departing from Brussels Airport was diverted to other Belgian regional airports.
The national strike in Belgium was called by the three main unions in Belgium to push for higher salaries as soaring inflation hit workers' purchasing power.
A large trade union demonstration was also planned in the center of Brussels later in the day, at which the organizers said up to 70,000 people were expected.
Many bus services were halted across the country. However, train services were running, partly to allow protesters to converge on the capital.
Inflation hit 9% in June in Belgium, mirroring sharp price rises elsewhere largely because Russia's offensive against Ukraine has hit grain supply and caused the cost of energy to spike.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told public broadcaster RTBF that Belgian workers were better protected than counterparts in most other European Union countries because wages were indexed to inflation.
The government had extended measures to reduce sales tax on gas, electricity and fuel until the end of the year, he said.
Since the onset of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, waves of unprecedented sanctions from the United States and its European allies have been imposed on Moscow.
The ongoing war, as well as the West’s punitive measures against Moscow, have caused the price of grain, cooking oil, fertilizer and energy to skyrocket.
Russia and Ukraine together produce almost 30 percent of the global wheat supply.