Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA), also called Charleroi Airport, (IATA: CRL, ICAO: EBCI) is located in Charleroi precisely in Gosselies, 46 kilometres (29 mi) from central Brussels, in Wallonia (Belgium). 3,937,187 passengers used it in 2009.
A new terminal opened in January 2008. It has a capacity of up to 5 million passengers a year.
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.
Operations at Charleroi Airport 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 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 Charleroi, such as Wizz Air and Air Service Plus (later replaced by On Air). The Polish airline Air Polonia operated services from Charleroi 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.
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. The Commission has accepted the CFI's judgment and has not appealed the CFI's judgment.
Airlines and destinations
How to get there
Local TEC buses run between the airport and Charleroi train station. These buses leave the airport every 30 minutes on weekdays and every hour in the weekend and take approximately 18 minutes to get to Charleroi train station.
A coach runs from the airport to Brussels-South railway station every 45 minutes, 20 times a day, taking one hour. (Note that the Brussels-South train station is in Brussels unlike Brussels-South airport which is in Charleroi.) The ticket office is just outside arrivals and the coach picks up just outside the building.
A special bus (Airport Express - A) will take you to Charleroi-South train station. A combined ticket bus + train to any Belgian train station can be bought in the terminal.
The airport is accessible by the highway from Brussels, Liège or Lille. The GPS address of the new terminal is: Rue d'Heppignies - 6043 RANSART.
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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