Brussels airport 'operationally ready' to reopen; timing still uncertain

Brussels Zaventem Airport (BRU), the scene of two deadly bomb explosions more than a week ago, says it is ready to partially reopen but flights will not restart until Friday evening at the earliest.
BRU has been closed since March 22 when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the departure hall. In a statement issued late Thursday Brussels time, the airport's operators said the departures area would only be operating at 20 percent of normal capacity.

The airport received the go-ahead from fire services and the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) for a partial restart of passenger flights at the airport, it noted on Thursday afternoon but added that authorities had yet to make a formal decision on the restart date.

Over the past several days, Brussels Airport Company, public fire services, the BCAA, federal police and defense officials have thoroughly evaluated Tuesday's large-scale trial run of temporary facilities. Brussels Airport Company has been actively handling the action items of this evaluation for which last night the public fire services and BCAA gave their approval for a restart.

"The airport is thus technically ready for a restart of passenger flights in the temporary infrastructure foreseen for check-in," airport officials said in a news release, noting that the provisional infrastructure "[W]ould allow the airport to receive 800 departing passengers per hour, or 2.5 million departing passengers a year," which equates to  about 20% of the facility's normal capacity.

Arriving passengers will still go through the usual baggage reclaim and arrivals in the terminal, as that area was only slightly damaged and has since been restored for use.

The final step for the restart is the formal political approval.

Airport officials began erecting temporary constructions on March 24 and hundreds of airport employees returned to the airport on Tuesday to take part in a large-scale test of the temporary facilities. The airport also designed additional security measures that will be implemented at all Belgian airports on the orders of the government.

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