Brussels airport could 'at best' reopen Wednesday: CEO

Af, Tuesday 29 Mar 2016

File photo of a soldier standing near broken windows after explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016.(Reuters)

Brussels Airport could "at best" resume very limited services on Wednesday but it will take months to get back to normal after two suicide bombers destroyed the departure terminal, chief executive Arnaud Feist said.

The airport is running a series of tests Tuesday to see if makeshift check-in facilities are good enough to restart some flights and that repair work and new security measures are adequate after the deadly March 22 attacks.

Feist told L'Echo in an interview published Tuesday that everything depends on the outcome of the tests at Zaventem, with some 800 airport staff going through the temporary facilities.

"In principle, if everybody gives the green light, we would be near a solution. If that is the case and the airlines are ready and agree, we could get going again on Wednesday," he said.

"I must stress, however, that that is just hypothetical."

Brussels is a major European hub and has flights to destinations worldwide.

Even if some services are possible, they would amount to about only 20 percent of normal, that is handling about 800-1,000 passengers an hour, Feist said.

For a full return to normal, "we will have to wait for months," Feist added.

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the departure hall last Tuesday, wrecking the concourse, and shortly afterwards another bomber hit the Brussels metro, leaving 35 people dead in Belgium's worst-ever terror attack.

In an effort to keep at least some services going, airlines moved operations to regional airports or even to neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands and Germany.

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