April 04, 2016: The first passenger flight since the attacks on Brussels Airport on 22 March took off on the afternoon of April 3 at around 1.40 pm. The Magritte aircraft of Brussels Airlines took off to Faro in Portugal.
The first passenger flight was given a salute of honour by the emergency services during a low-key reopening ceremony that was held in the presence of Minister of Mobility Jacqueline Galant and Minister of Defence Steven Vandeput. The departure of the first passenger flight was an emotional moment for the entire airport community and is a symbol for a new start and for the energy, solidarity and commitment of all airport staff.
During the past 12 days, thousands of employees have been working day and night to make this possible.
“Thanks to this work, your work, we can today spread a message of hope. Today we show our strength, show that we have risen again, that we will not allow ourselves to be beaten. It is the start of a new beginning, even if the is still so much work to be done to return things to a normal situation, to the extent that it will ever again be normal”, says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company.
“The attack has struck at the heart of everybody. But it is important to pick up the thread. Brussels Airport is the country’s second largest economic generator. The airport not only gives 20,000 people a job, but thanks to the connectivity with the rest of the world, allows companies in our country to develop and grow”, says Marc Descheemaecker, chairman of the Board of Directors of Brussels Airport Company.
Brussels Airport has now started the demolition work to remove all damaged elements in the departure hall. In the coming weeks, Brussels Airport Company will be working on a strategic plan for the reconstruction of the departure hall.
This will take place in two stages, whereby the focus in the first stage will be on restoring the functionality of several check-in desks in the departure hall. In the second stage, the work will focus on a comprehensive reopening of the departure hall. Timing for this has not yet been fixed.
Our objective is to have a maximum capacity available before the start of the summer holidays at the end of June, beginning of July.
The airport can, at the moment, only be reached by car or taxi. In the coming days, they will examine the possibility of restarting other means of transport, such as bus and train.