Brussels Airport Ready for Partial Reopening after Attacks
Brussels International Airport is ready to partially reopen but flights will not restart until Friday evening (April 1) at the earliest.
Zaventem airport has been closed since March 22 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the departure hall.
The departures area would only be operating at 20% of normal capacity, the airport’s operators said in a statement.
The attacks on the airport and another suicide bomb on the Brussels Metro killed 32 people and injured hundreds.
ISIS has said it was behind the bombings.
The reopening announcement follows days of tests for a temporary check-in system at Zaventem.
“Brussels Airport Company has received the go-ahead from the fire services and the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority for a partial restart of passenger flights at the airport,” the airport’s statement said.
“The airport is thus technically ready for a restart of passenger flights in the temporary infrastructure foreseen for check-in.
“However, the authorities have yet to take a formal decision on the restart date. Until Friday evening no passenger flights will take place at Brussels Airport.”
The airport said the temporary system could receive 800 departing passengers per hour, far fewer than normal.
However, the baggage reclaim and arrivals area was only slightly damaged and has since been made ready for use, it added.
“The final step for the restart is the formal political approval. In the meantime, it has been decided that there will be no passenger flights until Friday evening.”
Zaventem Airport CEO Arnaud Feist said earlier this week that the airport would take months to reopen fully.
Meanwhile, Brussels airport police have said they criticized security well ahead of the attacks.
In an open letter to authorities published by Belgian broadcaster VRT, police said they had sent “strong daily signals regarding the overall security at the airport”.
They complained “there had not been any security control of passengers or luggage from the airport complex right up to the centralized body searches” area.
They also alleged that too many airport employees had criminal backgrounds.
Police are still searching for the third man who took part in the airport attacks. The man, pictured on CCTV wearing a hat, was said to have fled the scene without detonating his explosive device.
The two airport bombers who died have been named as Najim Laachraoui and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui.
Ibrahim el-Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid el-Bakraoui, blew himself up at Maelbeek metro station.
Police later found a computer in which Ibrahim el-Bakraoui left a final message.