Sunday 4 December 2016

Brussels Airport reopens for first time since terrorist attacks

Published 01/05/2016 | 17:29

Police officers stand in front of a tribute to the victims in the departure hall after a ceremony at Brussels Airport as it reopens 40 days after deadly attacks in Zaventem, Belgium, May 1, 2016
Police officers stand in front of a tribute to the victims in the departure hall after a ceremony at Brussels Airport as it reopens 40 days after deadly attacks in Zaventem, Belgium, May 1, 2016
Members of staff stand in the departure hall after a ceremony at Brussels Airport as it reopens 40 days after deadly attacks in Zaventem, Belgium, May 1, 2016
Police officers stand in front of a tribute to the victims in the departure hall after a ceremony at Brussels Airport as it reopens 40 days after deadly attacks in Zaventem, Belgium, May 1, 2016

Brussels Airport has reopened its departure hall under extra security for the first time since the deadly Islamic extremist attacks in March.

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The airport had already resumed some flights, but passengers were using a temporary check-in tent because of extensive damage to the departure hall from the twin suicide bombings that killed 16 people.

Members of staff stand in the departure hall after a ceremony at Brussels Airport as it reopens 40 days after deadly attacks in Zaventem, Belgium, May 1, 2016
Members of staff stand in the departure hall after a ceremony at Brussels Airport as it reopens 40 days after deadly attacks in Zaventem, Belgium, May 1, 2016

Passengers on select flights started using the newly-repaired departure hall on Sunday after a special ceremony presided over by Belgian prime minister Charles Michel. Extra security checks have been added before entering the terminal.

The March 22 attacks at the airport and Brussels' subway killed 32 people overall.

"We all choose to resist. Today, our capital's airport is reopening. Brussels is back in business," Mr Michel told a crowd gathered near a plaque bearing the names of victims, surrounded by photos and flowers.

Some passengers lamented the tense atmosphere at a place that they used to associate with happy vacations.

Police officers stand in front of a tribute to the victims in the departure hall after a ceremony at Brussels Airport as it reopens 40 days after deadly attacks in Zaventem, Belgium, May 1, 2016
Police officers stand in front of a tribute to the victims in the departure hall after a ceremony at Brussels Airport as it reopens 40 days after deadly attacks in Zaventem, Belgium, May 1, 2016

Check-in clerk Veronique Goodman described her emotion at the re-opening, saying: "For the people who lost their family, injured colleagues ... nobody wants this ever to happen again. But (we're) happy to be back with our colleagues."

In a statement, Brussels Airport Company CEO Arnaud Feist called it "an important day in the recovery" of the airport and in efforts to revive the city's image.

Mr Feist said he hoped the airport would be back at 100% capacity by mid-June.

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