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Flights from Brussels airport resume

BBC News BBC News 3/04/2016
Passenger flight takes off from Brussels airport as it partially reopens 03/03/2016 © AFP Passenger flight takes off from Brussels airport as it partially reopens 03/03/2016

Brussels airport has reopened for three flights amid tight security controls, 12 days after an attack by suicide bombers killed 16 people there.

Belgian police and soldiers keep guard at Brussels Airport (03/04/2016): Enhanced security and checks greeted the first travellers using Brussels airport after it reopened © Reuters Enhanced security and checks greeted the first travellers using Brussels airport after it reopened

Three Brussels Airlines flights departed for Faro in Portugal, Turin in northern Italy and Athens.

A passenger arrives at Brussels airport (03/04/2016): The three flights taking off on Sunday represent a tiny fraction of the airport's normal daily workload © Reuters The three flights taking off on Sunday represent a tiny fraction of the airport's normal daily workload

Passengers were screened on an approach road and again before check in.

Representatives of Brussels Airlines await the first passengers as limited services resume: The authorities say their priority is security, not comfort © AP The authorities say their priority is security, not comfort

Attacks on the airport and a Brussels metro station by so-called Islamic State on 22 March left 32 people dead.

People take pictures of the first flight after Brussels Airport reopens (03/04/2016): People watched as the first flight out of the reopened airport left for Faro © AFP People watched as the first flight out of the reopened airport left for Faro

Airport workers gathered at Zaventem to watch the first flight take off.

A man looks at a tribute board at Brussels Airport (03/04/2016): They hope the airport will be back up to full capacity in time for the summer holidays © Reuters They hope the airport will be back up to full capacity in time for the summer holidays

A passenger on the Athens flight, Loukas Bassoukos, told Agence France-Presse it was "a bit weird".

Diagram of new security controls at Zaventem airport: Brussels airport posted details of the new arrangements on its website © BBC Brussels airport posted details of the new arrangements on its website

"So many people died here. But I think we can overcome this. I think we slowly have to start trusting the security controls," he said.

Airport chief executive Arnaud Feist said: "These flights are the first hopeful sign from an airport that is standing up straight after a cowardly attack."

Brussels Airlines has estimated the closure of its hub has been costing it €5m ($5.7m) a day.

The stringent new security checks were put in place after police threatened to go on strike if measures were not improved.

Passengers were asked to arrive three hours before their flight departure time. They were only able to get to the airport by car or taxi - the terminal is still closed to trains and buses.

Under the new security arrangements:

vehicles and passengers travelling to the temporary departures area will be screened on the access road. Special cameras will check number plates

an additional police check and ID and boarding pass check will take place at the entrance to the temporary departures area. Those not flying will not be allowed in

passengers will then proceed towards the departure gates, undergoing the usual access and security controls

Late on Friday, Belgian officials reached a deal with police unions on enhanced security at the airport.

Mr Feist said he hoped the airport would get back up to full capacity in time for the start of the summer holidays at the end of June.

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