After terror attacks, Brussels Airport now set to reopen

uni1459669511BRUSSELS, Belgium – After a 12-day shutdown, Belgium’s biggest Zaventem Airport is set to resume operations with new security controls.

The airport that had remained closed since the brutal March 22 terror attacks, is now reopening and will be back at around 20 percent of its capacity, with an ability to process 800 passengers an hour.

Airport authorities have said that the three ‘largely symbolic’ Brussels Airlines’ flights would depart for European destinations – to Athens in Greece, Turin in Italy and Faro in Portugal.

Arnaud Feist, the Airport’s CEO said in a news conference that the resumption is “a sign of hope” and a demonstration of “shared will” that even partial passenger service could resume so soon following “the darkest days in the history of aviation in Belgium.”

He further said that he was expecting the formal go-ahead from the Belgian government.

Speaking at the conference, Michael Jonniaux, Belgian federal police spokesperson 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.

The bombers were able to enter the airport’s check-in area with suitcases packed with high explosives and nails, and the resulting blasts collapsed the ceiling, shattered windows and caused immense damage.

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

He also warned that there will be no access by rail or public transport to the airport for the foreseeable future.

Feist added that he hopes full service can be restored by the end of June or beginning of July in time for the summer holiday season.

Meanwhile, Belgian authorities have charged a third suspect, a Belgian national named Y A with participating in the activities of a terrorist group for his alleged role in another plot to attack France.

The charges have come days after a Frenchman Reda Kriket was arrested in a Paris suburb with a huge cache of weapons and explosives on 24 March.

The prosecutor’s office released a statement identifying the 33-year-old Belgian suspect and claimed that he is in custody and has been charged in the case that stemmed from the arrest of Kriket.

Belgian police also detained about two dozen protesters at Brussels’ Bourse Square, breaking up a demonstration in protest over Islamophobia.

Fearing violent disorders, authorities in Brussels have banned all demonstrations.

The devastating suicide bombings in the airport’s main terminal and a Brussels subway train had left 32 people dead and about 270 others wounded on March 22. The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group. READ MORE OF THIS STORY

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About Cholo Brooks 15629 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.