Brussels South Charleroi Airport serves the Brussels area of Belgium from the community of Gosselies. The airport is more commonly known by the shortened name of Charleroi Airport or the acronym of BSCA. The airport has been assigned the code CRL.
Brussels south serves as the access point for the budget airlines almost exclusively. This is at least somewhat driven by the inability of the Brussels South Charleroi Airport to accommodate the larger wide-bodied commercial jet aircraft.
History of Brussels Charleroi
Air operations in the area trace back to the period immediately after World War I when the area was used to train new pilots and maintain aircraft. Late in World War II, allied forces used the airport for a training and staging area during its push into Europe. Following the war, the airport reverted to general aviation status. Passenger air service became a major component of the airport’s operation in the 1990s and has continued to grow both in the number of flights and the number of passengers each year.
The airport provides both domestic and international air services with about 5 million passengers passing through the gates each year. The airports single terminal, constructed in 2008, has already reached its stated capacity of about 5 million passengers per year. The terminal includes 12 check-in counters providing access to two gates.
Pilots approaching Brussels South Charleroi Airport utilize one of two parallel runways. Both runways extend 2,500 meters, or about 8,400 feet, and are equipped with lighting and instrument landing systems. Aircraft the size of a Boeing 707 and smaller can utilize the runways. The airport operates from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time with noise restrictions in place.
The early history of the airport included several flight training operations. Those services continue at the modern Brussels South Charleroi Airport. The Belgian Flight School provides training for commercial aircraft pilots and flight crews and offers ground and flight training at the airport.
Brussels Aviation School provides bilingual training for pilots in French and English. This private school prepares potential pilots for the European private pilot’s license. Some of these pilots proceed to commercial pilot training for a career in aviation while others pursue flying as hobby or utilize an aircraft in their private businesses.
Also operating at Brussels South Charleroi Airport is Ciglos Aviation Methodology. This training operation specializes in training pilots to operate modern small aircraft.
Along with classroom space for ground training, the airport provides runway access for the small single-engine aircraft all the flight training schools use for hands-on experience. The student pilot flights increase the traffic on the runways and taxiways increasing the overall congestion of the airport although flight delays are not commonly reported.
In 2012 Brussels South Charleroi Airport was ranked third in the budget or low-cost airport category by Skytrax. Skytrax rates commercial airports, airlines and associated services based on polling of actual travelers. The award was the airports first from Skytrax.