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Charleroi, Belgium

More than likely this follows from a complaint (or threat?) from the airport's main customer, Ryanair. They did loose a good deal of money, admittedly. I can't help thinking part of the blame is on the pilot, who IMO should never even have thought of taking off as he did.

But yes, the separation is growing more sharp between "big" airports and recreational grass runways.

BTW I hope you observed the closure applies only on days of "busy holiday traffic" - which is open to interpretation of course. Presently, the rule applies to two complete weekends, as per Notam:

A0585/13 From:29 MAR 13 05:30 Till:31 MAR 13 21:00 Text:ACFT WITH MTOW LESS THAN 6 TONS FORBIDDEN

A0586/13 From:05 APR 13 04:30 Till:07 APR 13 21:00 Text:ACFT WITH MTOW LESS THAN 6 TONS FORBIDDEN

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Sorry, but an airport which is closed for GA even only two days a week becomes effectively unusable (patricularly, when these days are "irregular"). Please, don't play this down.

Re Ryanair, yes sure, they might have been the initiator, but again, these are public use airports, and there must be an authority which needs to approve these kinds of restrictions.

Mainz (EDFZ), Germany

the Brussels entourage is switching to the self defense mode - they know a lot of people flying aircraft under 6 tons like nothing more than to kick them in the ...

EDxx, Germany

All in all, G/A is not going the right way in Southern Belgium: Spa closed, Charleroi severely limited, and Saint Hubert under threat too, as I hear. Let's hope it doesn't go any further.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

The Saint Hubert case is an interesting one as they are trying to get permission for a paved runway, but the local gliders club is opposed to that. Without the paved runway, the owner of the aerodrome does not want to invest I suppose. About Charleroi I understood that they will allow local instructors to continue to fly...

Saint Hubert (EBSH) is actually a nice place to go as it has a great countryside around it, a local hotel and restaurant right on the airport and friendly staff.

EHRD, Netherlands

I don't know anything about these specific airports, but a grass airport has limited opportunities for keeping itself solvent, because most high value traffic cannot use it.

In the UK, most of them are a bit of a "labour of love" and are vulnerable to the owner dying, or getting fed up with the hassle, and then a property shark (who has been keeping an eye on it for many years) moves in.

The only long-term-viable setup is a hard runway, with a fair bit of commercial property (= rental income) around it.

And then you "just" need a competent airport manager, and they seem to be as rare as this

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Well, in Saint Hubert they do have a competent airport manager. We happen to have provided this airport with our software which is used in the tower for recording flight movements, invoicing etc. They have 4 grass runways (2x 2 parallel runways) and host the Belgium national gliders centre. They have big plans for expansion and even show up on air shows with a booth like in Cannes. They are basically staffed and open 365 days a year, except of course during the last few months with the snow literally closing everything down.

The difficulty I see is that the airport is located in this remote area so far away from any city of any size.

EHRD, Netherlands

a couple of hundred yards away is a 2000m concrete runway which belongs to Saint Hubert military airport, more or less not in use and built as a NATO reserve field. The information I have is that no military unit is based there - they are just wasting taxpayers' money not permitting GA to use it - even not as a training ground for flight schools.

EDxx, Germany

Yes, the manager of Saint Hubert has tried to get permission to use or rent the runway, but no way that the military want this. It is indeed just sitting there as a reserve airfield.

EHRD, Netherlands
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