Limited number of passenger flights to resume at Brussels airport tomorrow
Published 02/04/2016 | 16:35
The head of Brussels Airport has said a limited number of passenger flights will resume on Sunday.
CEO Arnaud Feist made the announcement in a news conference at a hotel near the airport.
He said the first services on Sunday should be three flights operated by Brussels Airlines, Belgium's leading carrier, to Faro in Portugal, Turin in Italy, and Athens in Greece.
The airport has been closed since the March 22 suicide bombings that killed 16 victims at the airport and another 16 in the Brussels subway, with 270 people wounded.
Mr Feist said the country has just lived through "the darkest days in the history of aviation in Belgium".
The airport chief called it "a sign of hope" that services will be restored so quickly after the devastating bombings, claimed by the Islamic State group (IS).
The airport, which usually handles about 600 flights a day, served approximately 1.5 million people in February, the month preceding the attack.
Mr Feist said he hopes full passenger service will be restored by the end of June or beginning of July in time for the summer holiday season.
A Belgian federal police spokesman said the reinforced security measures will be in effect for Sunday's limited passenger service.
Michael Jonniaux said new security measures will include spot-checks of vehicles arriving at the airport and new controls on people and baggage before they are allowed to enter the airport terminal.
He said both people and baggage will be scanned before they can go into the building. He added that travellers' ID and travel documents will also be checked to make sure they match.
Meanwhile, police have detained some two dozen protesters at Brussels' Bourse square, breaking up a demonstration held in protest over Islamophobia, which had been banned.
Other protesters booed at what they called a double standard after a group of hooligans invaded a demonstration last Sunday.
Brussels native Violette Fertimel said that "we should not fall into hatred, not give in to terror and not give in to fascists".
At least one person was detained in the Molenbeek neighbourhood, where a far-right French-based group planned to demonstrate.
Witnesses claimed there had been several minor clashes between police and youths. Molenbeek, with its large Muslim population, was the departure point for many of those who attacked Paris in November and Brussels in March - leaving more than 160 people dead.