Brussels Airport to reopen today after Brussels bombings

The airport’s chief executive Arnaud Feist told a news conference the airport will be opened partially.

FILE: A Belgian police vehicle drives past passengers evacuating the Brussels Airport of Zaventem. After at least 13 people were killed and 35 injured as twin blasts rocked the main terminal on 22 March 2016. Picture: AFP.

BRUSSELS - Brussels Airport will partially reopen for passenger flights on Sunday, 12 days after its departure hall was destroyed by suicide bombers.

The country's main airport has not handled passenger flights since two suspected Islamist militants carried out the suicide attacks. Those bombs and a separate one on a metro train in the city killed 35 people, including the bombers.

"As of tomorrow, Sunday, Brussels Airport should be partially operational," the airport's chief executive Arnaud Feist told a news conference.

The airport has built a temporary check-in zone, conducted tests and had declared itself ready to restart flights.

The federal police, whose officers work in the airport, wants passengers to be checked outside the new departure zone. But the airport authorities say this would mean passengers waiting too long and simply shift the security threat from inside to outside the area.

Airport police say they are ready to strike over the issue.

"We need an agreement with the police unions. There are currently discussions between them and the interior ministry," an airport spokeswoman said, confirming there would be no passenger flights on Friday.

Belgium's national security council, a grouping of senior ministers, police and intelligence chiefs, earlier acknowledged it could simply force police to work at the airport, but that it would be unwise to do so.

"It's important to find the right balance between economic interests and security interests," Defence Minister Steven Vandeput told Belgian television.

Brussels Airlines, Belgium's largest carrier and 45 percent owned by Lufthansa, has estimated the closure of its Brussels hub is costing it €5 million per day.