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26/09/2016

Brussels airport announces reopening amid strike threats

Transport

Brussels airport announces reopening amid strike threats

Brussels airport said it would partially reopen for passenger flights on Friday (1 April) evening after its closure following the 22 March bomb attacks, the company running the airport said.

Casting doubt on those plans however, airport police warned of a planned strike on Sunday (3 April) in protest over what they said were lax security measures planned by authorities.

“The measures proposed by the authorities are insufficient,” Belgian broadcaster RTBF cited the police union as saying.

The strike would delay plans to allow some flights to resume, a spokeswoman for the airport said. “As long as there is no agreement, the airport will not reopen,” Florence Muls said.

In a message posted later on Twitter, Brussels Airport announced that no flights will take place “until 1 April included”.

Bombs detonated by suicide bombers at Brussels international airport and on a metro train a short while later killed 35 people and wounded scores of others.

Belgian police, the fire brigade and the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority have been checking the airport, whose departure hall was badly damaged by two blasts, to see if it was ready to resume service.

“The airport is … technically ready for a restart of passenger flights in the temporary infrastructure foreseen for check-in,” the Brussels Airport Company said in a statement.

The provisional arrangement will allow the airport to receive 800 departing passengers per hour, or 2.5 million departing passengers a year, which is 20% of the normal capacity of the airport.

Arriving passengers will go through the usual baggage reclaim and arrivals in the terminal. This zone was only slightly damaged and has since been restored for use.

“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,” the statement said.

Brussels Airport is one of the largest airports in Europe, handling 23.5 million passengers and 489,000 tonnes of freight annually. It links the Belgian capital with 226 destinations worldwide that are served by 77 different airlines.