Brussels South Charleroi Airport
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|Brussels South Charleroi Airport
Aéroport de Charleroi Bruxelles Sud
|IATA: CRL – ICAO: EBCI|
|Owner||Government of Walloon Region|
|Operator||SOWAER (Société Wallonne des Aéroports)|
|Elevation AMSL||614 ft / 187 m|
Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA), also called Charleroi Airport or Gosselies Airport, (IATA: CRL, ICAO: EBCI) is an international airport located in Gosselies, a part of the city of Charleroi, 46 kilometres (29 mi) south of central Brussels, in Wallonia (Belgium). The Aéropole, one of the Science Parks of Wallonia, is located near the airport.
The first aeronautical activities in Gosselies date back to 1919 as a flying school, then aeronautical maintenance activities the following year. The British aircraft manufacturer Fairey Aviation settled a subsidiary Avions Fairey on the site (then known as Mont des Bergers) in 1931.
Gosselies airfield became a public aerodrome after World War II, but the main activities of the site remained aeronautical constructions (installation of SABCA in 1954, then SONACA in 1978, taking the place of Fairey).
In the 1970s, the Belgian national airline Sabena launched a Liège–Charleroi–London service, but this was soon dropped because of poor results. Gosselies was left with almost no passenger traffic, the airport being mainly used for private or pleasure flights, training flights and occasional charters to leisure destinations around the Mediterranean Sea or to Algeria.
Development since the 1990s
Operations at Brussels South Charleroi grew in the 1990s, with a new commercial management structure (BSCA – Brussels South Charleroi Airport) and the arrival of Irish low cost airline Ryanair in 1997, which opened its first continental base at Charleroi a few years later.
Although criticised for the subsidies paid by the Walloon government to help its installation, Ryanair opened new routes from Brussels South Charleroi (they also closed two destinations: London–Stansted and Liverpool, although Stansted was re-introduced in June 2007 before being suspended again). Other low-cost carriers later joined Ryanair in Brussels South Charleroi, such as Wizz Air. The Polish airline Air Polonia operated services from here to Warsaw and Katowice before going bankrupt in August 2004.
In September 2006 it was announced that Moroccan low-cost airline Jet4you would launch three weekly flights to Casablanca (on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday) starting 1 November 2006, in code-share cooperation with Belgian airline Jetairfly.
A new terminal opened in January 2008. It has a capacity of up to 5 million passengers a year, which means that it has reached it maximum capacity in 2010 (5 195 372 passengers).
The European Commission objected to assistance the airport offered to Ryanair, since the airport is owned by the Wallonia regional government and thus the discounts and other benefits could be considered state aid. However, the Court of First Instance (a European Union court) decided on 17 December 2008 that the Commission's decision finding that illegal aid had been granted to Ryanair should be annulled and quashed as being erroneous in law. However, in March 2012, the Commission reopened the case in order to take this judgement into account.
Airlines and destinations
Local TEC buses run between the airport and Charleroi railway station. There are also several shuttles between different cities in the neighbouring countries (Luxembourg, Metz, Thionville, Lille) plus a regular coach service that runs from the airport to Brussels-South railway station. Also, a special bus (Airport Express – A) operates from the airport to Charleroi-South railway station. A combined bus and train ticket to any other Belgian railway station can be bought in the terminal.
Accidents and incidents
- On 8 April 2011, a Dutch F-16 had to make an emergency landing because of a technical failure of one of its sets of landing gear. The plane landed on its belly. The pilot did not suffer any injuries.
- On 9 February 2013, a small Cessna plane crashed near the runway after suffering technical problems during take-off, killing all 5 people on board. The airport was closed for about six hours before resuming services.
- Ryanair slates Charleroi ruling, BBC, 3 February 2004
- State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigations in air transport sector in Belgium, France and Germany
- "Jetairfly Flight Plan". Jetairfly.
- "WIZZ AIR ADDS 6TH AIRCRAFT TO GDANSK - New routes to Aberdeen, Brussels Charleroi and Billund". Wizz Air. 15 January 2015.
- Accident d'un F16 à Charleroi: réouverture de l'aéroport, RTL Info, http://www.rtl.be/info/votreregion/hainaut/787935/accident-d-un-f16-charleroi-r-ouverture-de-l-a-roport
- Belgian airport reopens after plane crash kills family (Reuters)
- Belgium plane crash closes Charleroi airport (BBC)