- Title: Belgium's Charleroi airport closes down as coronavirus hits
- Date: 24th March 2020
- Summary: GOSSELIES, BELGIUM (MARCH 24, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF RYANAIR PLANES PARKED AT CHARLEROI AIRPORT RYANAIR PLANES ON TARMAC NOSE OF PLANE ALMOST EMPTY DEPARTURE HALL BOARD INDICATING LAST FLIGHTS DEPARTING (SOUNDBITE) (French) SPOKESMAN FOR CHARLEROI AIRPORT, VINCENT GRASSA, SAYING: "We were faced with an unprecedented situation. That is to say that since the beginning of the crisis and thus since the end of February, we have had an increasingly reduced number of passengers boarding planes, and therefore low load factors. In addition, there have been various restrictions imposed by various countries which have refused Belgian nationals access to their territory as a result of the spread of the (corona) virus. So, one by one, the airlines began by reducing their route frequencies before suspending them and finally deciding simply to stop operations for a given period." TRAVELLERS QUEUING AT AIRPORT TICKET DESK MAN ENTERING SAFETY ZONE TRAVELLERS WAITING (SOUNDBITE) (French) SPOKESMAN FOR CHARLEROI AIRPORT, VINCENT GRASSA, SAYING: "There are about 700 to 750 people working in direct employment for the airport. In addition to these people, we must obviously add all the concessions and any other service that works for the airport and so there are about 3,000 people on site here at the airport. Tomorrow, of course, most of the staff and therefore the direct jobs at the airport are on temporary leave, as well as the people working in the different departments of the terminal." PLANES PARKED AT THE AIRPORT RYANAIR PLANE ON TARMAC PLANES PARKED AT THE AIRPORT VARIOUS OF ALMOST EMPTY DEPARTURE HALL (SOUNDBITE) (English) TRAVELLER, PEDRO MONTEIRO, SAYING: "First, it feels good, because of what we heard about the distance (to keep), the norms of the coronavirus that were established. So first that feels good. But it's strange, because for us, who usually go from one place to another, from one airport to another... You get here and (think) 'wow, what's this? Ok, something changed a lot'." EMPTY SEATS EMPTY WAITING HALL ALMOST EMPTY CHECK-IN COUNTERS PEOPLE AT CHECK-IN COUNTER EXTERIOR OF AIRPORT WITH SIGN READING (French): 'Brussels South Charleroi Airport'
- Keywords: Brussels South Airport Charleroi Gosselies airport cancellation closed coronavirus
- Reuters ID: LVA001C6EX4QV
- Location: GOSSELIES, BELGIUM
- City: GOSSELIES, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Duration: 00:03:06
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: The silence was heavy in the empty waiting halls of Brussels South Charleroi Airport on Tuesday (March 24), as Belgium's second biggest airport was preparing to close after air traffic plummeted due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Dozens of planes were parked on the tarmac and the check-in counters were deserted, with only a few flights still planned before the airport stops all commercial activity at 23.59 (2259 gmt) on Tuesday night.
Vincent Grassa, a spokesman for the airport, said that since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, airlines had started reducing the number of flights as foreign countries imposed travel restrictions for Belgian travellers.
Most of the 3,000 people working directly or indirectly for the airport will go on a temporary leave until at least April 5, when the airport hopes to reopen its doors. But the period could be extended.
Brussels South Charleroi Airport, situated close to Brussels, normally operates 65 flights a day, serving more than 500,000 passengers a month, Grassa said. It saw more than eight million passengers last year and services budget airlines Ryanair, Wizz Air, Pegasus Airlines, TUI fly, Air Corsica, Belavia, Air Belgium, Air Algerie and Laudamotion.
(Production: Jeremy Audouard, Bart Biesemans)
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