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Brussels airport set to partially reopen after terror attacks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Brussels airport is seen behind fences after deadly terror attacks, in Zaventem, Belgium, on April 1, 2016. ©Reuters

The international airport in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, is set to partially reopen amid tight security checks after a 12-day shutdown of passenger flights due to the deadly attacks claimed by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Zaventem Airport chief executive, Arnaud Feist, said the facility would resume services on Sunday with three “symbolic” Brussels Airlines flights.

The first flight is expected to take off for the Portuguese city of Faro around 2 p.m. local time (1200 GMT). The others will be bound for the Greek capital, Athens, and Italy’s Turin.

“These flights are the first hopeful sign from an airport that is standing up straight after a cowardly attack,” Feist said.

Brussels Airport chief executive, Arnaud Feist, gives a press conference in Zaventem on April 2, 2016, regarding the reopening of the key travel hub. ©AFP

The airport, among major European travel hubs, will be back at around 20 percent of capacity and able to process 800 to 1,000 passengers an hour.

The facility, however, will resume services under strict additional security controls with extra police and soldiers on patrol throughout the airport zone.

Under the new measure, passengers are required to get to the airport by car as the terminal is still closed to trains and buses.

Only passengers with tickets and ID documents will be allowed into the makeshift departure hall while their bags will be checked. Once inside, passengers will also undergo usual security checks.

People gather around floral tributes at a memorial site at the Place de la Bourse in Brussels, on March 26, 2016. ©AP

The Brussels airport has been closed since March 22, when two men blew themselves up in the departure hall in coordinated blasts that also hit a metro station in the Belgian capital. A total of 32 people lost their lives in the attacks.

Elsewhere in his comments, Feist said the reconstruction of the airport’s departure hall will take months, expressing hope that the travel hub will start running normally again from late June or early July “before the start of the summer holidays.”

Zaventem Airport is one of Belgium’s largest employers with 260 companies on-site employing some 20,000 staff overall.

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