BRUSSELS – Under extra security, the Brussels Airport reopened its departure hall Sunday for the first time since deadly Islamic extremist attacks in March.
The airport had already resumed some flights, but passengers had been using a temporary check-in tent because of extensive damage to the departure hall from the twin suicide bombings that killed 16 people.
Passengers on select flights started using the newly-repaired departure hall Sunday after a special ceremony presided over by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. Extra security checks have been added before entering the terminal.
“We all choose to resist. Today, our capital’s airport is reopening. Brussels is back in business,” Michel told a gathered crowd 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. Check-in clerk Veronique Goodman described her emotion at the re-opening, “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. Feist said he hoped the airport would be back at 100 per cent capacity by mid-June.
The March 22 attacks at the airport and Brussels’ subway killed 32 people overall.