Flights Resume at Brussels Airport After Terror Attacks

First passenger flight headed to Portugal as airport opens 12 days after bombings killed 32 in Belgian capital

brussels airport

A passenger flight headed to Faro, Portugal, took off from Brussels Airport on Sunday, the first passenger flight to depart from the airport 12 days after suicide bombings killed more than 30 people in the Belgian capital.

According to the airport’s website, flights to Turin and Athens were also due to take off later in the day, with a longer list of departing flights scheduled for Monday.

Belgium’s biggest airport should be back to about 20 percent capacity from Monday and able to process 800 passengers an hour, Arnaud Feist, the CEO of Brussels Airport Co, said earlier.

The airport has been closed since March 22, after suicide bombings hit the airport’s departure hall and a Brussels subway train, killing 32 people and wounding 270.

Feist called it “a sign of hope” and a demonstration of “shared will” that even partial passenger services could resume so soon after what he called “the darkest days in the history of aviation in Belgium”.

The attacks, in which three suicide bombers also died, were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group.

Since then, new security measures have been ordered at the airport, including spot checks of vehicles before they arrive and the closing of a drop-off parking area outside the terminal, according to Belgian Federal Police spokesman Michael Jonniaux.

He said that all passengers would be screened along with their travel documents and baggage before they were allowed to enter the facility.

The bombers entered the airport’s check-in area with suitcases packed with high explosives and nails, and the resulting blasts caused the ceiling to collapse, shattered windows and caused massive damage.

Until the terminal can be fully repaired, Feist said departing passengers would enter a temporary structure erected on the tarmac, then go to a specially built area to check in.

There will be no access by rail or public transport to the airport for the foreseeable future, he said.

Brussels Airport, which normally handles about 600 flights a day, served about 1.5 million people in February, the month preceding the attack. Feist said he hoped full service could be restored by the end of June or the beginning of July, in time for the summer holiday season.

 

Reprinted with permission from Al Jazeera