ZOOM Brussels airport in Zaventem, hit by jihadist suicide bombers March 22, 2016 / AFP / File
Brussels airport in Zaventem, hit by jihadist suicide bombers March 22, 2016 / AFP / File
Belgium Sunday will try to turn the page of the attacks by reopening its high-security airport for three “symbolic” flights, but it will take many months before it can be fully operational.
the departure hall of Brussels-Zaventem airport was devastated by a double suicide bombing on 22 March. An hour later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Brussels metro. These attacks, committed a little more than four months after Paris by the same network linked to the jihadist Islamic State organization, resulting in 32 dead and 340 wounded.
The first start, a flight of Brussels Airlines flights to Faro, southern Portugal, is expected to 1:40 p.m. (11:40 GMT). Follow a flight to Athens and another in Turin, Italy, “a hopeful signal that reflects our will and our strength to overcome this ordeal and will not bend”, said CEO of the airport, Arnaud Feist .
This timid recovery, he said, “symbolizes a return to normal for our airport,” a lung of the Belgian economy that generates 20,000 jobs in 260 companies.
starting Monday, the offer will be gradually expanded to include other companies that Brussels Airlines and more distant destinations, and arrivals will be restarted.
the damage in the lobby departures, whose windows were blown out, pillars damaged and destroyed the false ceilings, require heavy restoration work. Temporary infrastructure –from blanches– large tents was set up in a few days outdoors. Some 800 passengers per hour, the equivalent of six average flights can be saved, which is only 20% of reception normally airport capacity
-. Holidays summer –
Brussels Airport prepares “a strategic plan for renovation of the departures hall,” assured Mr. Feist. “Our goal is to have a maximum capacity available for departures at the end of vacation June, beginning of July,” he said. According to media reports, the airport will best achieve 40% of its usual capacity this summer and should run at full speed again at the end of the year.
Additional security measures have been decided Friday night after an emergency government meeting with police unions, waving the threat of a strike if their demands were not heard.
the area of Drop-off is off limits. Only passengers with a ticket and an ID can access on foot from a parking lot, the temporary registration hall, and baggage will be checked before they can enter. The airport is not served by public transport, only by private cars or taxis.
The closure of the airport for travelers (freight traffic had resumed quickly), combined with last minute cancellations after the attacks, has weighed on the tourism sector. Thus, the occupancy rate of the Brussels hotels fell by half past twelve days. For Brussels Airlines, the shortfall amounted to five million euros per day.
The Metro in the Belgian capital quickly reopened after the attacks, although many stations not served and traffic is interrupted between 7:00 p.m. ET 7:00. And life has reasserted itself despite the increased presence of police and soldiers in the streets and the active search for suspects still at large, including “the man in the hat” preview on the airport CCTV footage, which abandoned a suitcase full of explosives into the departure hall.
Meanwhile, Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor jihadist commando that hit Paris and Saint-Denis November 13, 2015, denied involvement in the attacks of 22 March. Arrested on 18 March in Brussels and imprisoned in Bruges (northwest), the French Belgian awaiting extradition to France.
Saturday, the situation was very tense in Molenbeek, pointed common finger after the attacks in Paris to have seen grow and stay several commandos. Some 400 people gathered there to challenge far-right activists, including the gathering had been banned by the authorities. One hundred young people then tried to reach the heart of the Belgian capital, instead of the Exchange, transformed into a memorial by the people after the attacks, but were repelled by the police.