Brussels airport has partially reopened to passenger flights, nearly two weeks after the city’s terrorist attacks which killed over 30 people.
Three “symbolic” flights departed the airport bound for Faro, Turin and Athens on Sunday, with passengers using a temporary check-in area.
The airport said that “the number of flights will be gradually increased and passengers flights will also land at Brussels airport” in the coming days, up to the maximum capacity of the temporary facilities of 800 departing passengers per hour.
While the check-in area of the airport was badly damaged by the attacks, the arrivals halls was “only slightly damaged”, and repairs have already been made meaning arriving passengers will be able to collect their luggage from the baggage reclaim area and leave via the arrivals hall.
Announcing the partial reopening of the airport CEO Arnaud Feist said that:
“These flights are the first hopeful sign from an airport that is standing up straight after a cowardly attack.
“That we are able to make this start only 12 days after the devastating attacks is a sign of our collective strength at Brussels Airport.”
Other carriers will join Brussels Airlines in restarting flights in the coming days, but Faust recognised that the current limited capacity meant that “not every airline can or wants to return to Brussels Airport".
“I personally promise that Brussels Airport will do everything in its power to increase as quickly as possible the capacity of our airport and to quickly grow the economic activities of our airport,” he added.
Demolition work has now started on the damaged section of the departures hall, and the airport says that reconstruction will take place in two phases, with the first focusing on “restoring the functionality of several check-in desks”.
It is hoped maximum capacity will be restored before the start of the summer holidays at the end of June / beginning of July.
Passengers can currently only reach the airport by car or taxi, although the airport says that “In the coming days, we will examine the possibility of restarting other means of transport, such as bus and train”.