Express carrier DHL finally abandoned its expansion plans at Brussels National airport last week after talks with the regional government broke down, provoking an immediate strike by employees.

The company says it is now pursuing plans to move its European hub to either Leipzig, Germany or Vatry, France after authorities from Flanders state and the Brussels capital region ignored advice from the Belgian federal government and refused to approve an application for 60Ha (150 acres) of additional space coupled with an increase in the airport's annual night movement limit by 9,000 to 34,000.

"We have come to the point where we have to realise there is no political support for the DHL project at Brussels airport," says Peter Kruse, chief executive of DHL Europe.

The company will downgrade Brussels to a regional hub from 2008, with the loss of more than half the personnel - about 1,700 staff. Union officials say the industrial action is a response to the government's anti-airport policies and is not designed to hurt the company.

Police had to intervene to halt the strike, which had blocked airport access roads and grounded DHL's fleet of Boeing 757s and Airbus A300s, operated by European Air Transport.

SN Brussels Airlines delayed its move from Berlin Templehof after a last-minute reprieve from city authorities for the 1930s airport. SN has been allowed to stay put until an upgrade to Berlin Schönefeld is completed in 2007.


Source: Flight International