Brussels airport says bombed building 'stable,' looking at temporary check-in desks

A flight schedule board is seen through broken windows inside the terminal at the airport.
A flight schedule board is seen through broken windows inside the terminal at the airport.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Brussels Airport said on Saturday that an examination of the main building housing the departure hall wrecked by two suicide bombers showed the structure is stable and it will now see if temporary check-in desks can be installed.

In a separate earlier statement, Brussels Airport said it did not expect to be able to reopen before Tuesday, with a partial resumption of passenger services, as it repaired the damage and put in place new security measures.

"A team of engineers, technicians and independent external experts have carried out a first analysis of the damage caused by the explosions (Tuesday, March 22)... after detectives released the terminal yesterday afternoon when they had concluded their investigations," it said in a statement.

"This first, provisional analysis shows that both the main building and the connector building where hand luggage and passengers are checked, are stable. Brussels Airport will now investigate the possibilities to install temporary check-in desks."

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in the departure hall, wrecking the concourse, and shortly afterwards another bomber hit the Brussels metro, leaving 31 dead in all and more than 300 wounded in Belgium's worst ever terror attack.

In Saturday's earlier statement, Brussels Airport gave no detail of what the new security measures would involve but immediately after Tuesday's attacks, there was a lot of criticism, especially of the fact that there were no systematic checks on passengers entering the departure hall.

The Easter weekend is normally one of the busiest of the year, with thousands of holidaymakers jetting off from Brussels to destinations worldwide.

Following the attacks, airlines moved operations to regional airports or even to neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands and Germany.

Low-cost pioneer Ryanair moved its Brussels flights to its main base at Charleroi airport, about an hour's drive south of the Belgian capital.