Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Passenger flights to resume in Brussels today

Published:Sunday | April 3, 2016 | 4:00 AM
In this March 23, 2016 photo, a forensics officer works in front of the damaged Zaventem Airport terminal in Brussels.

BRUSSELS (AP):

A partial, symbolic airline service will begin today at Brussels Airport after a 12-day shutdown of passenger service caused by a deadly bombing attack, the airport's chief executive said on Saturday.

Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Co, said that the Brussels Airlines flights to Athens, Turin in Italy and Faro in Portugal, were chiefly symbolic.

Effective tomorrow, Belgium's biggest airport should be back at around 20 per cent of capacity and able to process 800 passengers an hour.

It has been closed since devastating suicide bombings in the airport's main terminal and a Brussels subway train killed 32 people and wounded 270 on March 22.

Speaking at a joint news conference, Feist called it "a sign of hope" and a demonstration of "shared will" that even partial passenger service could resume so soon following what he called "the darkest days in the history of aviation in Belgium".

The March 22 attacks, in which three suicide bombers also died, were claimed by the Islamic State group.

NEW SECURITY MEASURES

To minimise the chances of a repeat, Belgian Federal Police spokesman Michael Jonniaux said that new security measures have been ordered at the airport, including spot checks of vehicles before they arrive, the closing of a drop-off parking area outside the terminal, and the screening of all people, their ID and travel documents and baggage before they are allowed to enter the facility.

Brussels Airport, which usually handled about 600 flights a day, served about 1.5 million people in February, the month preceding the attack. Feist said that he hopes full service can be restored by the end of June or beginning of July in time for the summer vacation season.