Brussels Airport struggles as EU mulls borders reopening

Brussels Airport struggles as EU mulls borders reopening
Credit: Brussels Airport Company

In the absence of an official decision on the reopening of the European Union's external borders, Brussels Airport is struggling to provide its passengers with clarity for their travels this summer.

On Tuesday, the airport announced it will serve 140 destinations by August, mainly in European countries such as France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy, as it has not yet received to green light to operate flights out of Europe.

"We do not know yet if we will be able to go to Tunisia, Morocco or Turkey from 1 July, for example," Nathalie Pierard, a spokesperson for Brussels Airport, told The Brussels Times.

"At the moment it is difficult for everyone, as we are all waiting for Europe's decision. We are following the guidelines, but there is no clarity yet," she added.

In July, the airport will serve over 100 destinations, in European countries such as France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. "Normally, flights to Africa were also scheduled to resume from July, via Brussels Airlines, but this will probably not happen," Pierard said.

A draft list of 14 countries (and China, depending on some conditions) that are expected to be allowed to travel to the EU has been drawn up, but as some member states requested some extra time to consider, no official decision has been announced yet.

In a move to create some clarity for its clients, Brussels Airlines on Monday announced that it would postpone the resumption of its long-distance flights to August, so travellers could have some time to plan their trips.

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Logistically, the situation is very difficult for the airport, but for the passengers as well, according to Pierard. "We have a list with an estimate of our destinations on our website," she said, adding everything depends on Europe.

Brussels Airport will gradually add destinations in July and will serve 140 by the beginning of August, it announced. "However, the situation can still change day by day, or week by week, and depending on the decision of Europe," Pierard said, adding that extra flights could still be added.

Additionally, the airport is organising flights to some destinations outside Europe, but only for essential journeys, she said. "There are still flights to Abu Dhabi or China, for example, just not commercial ones," she added.

From 1 July, the airport expects to welcome about 15,000 passengers per day for the first time in three months. "While still far off the traditional summer holiday figures, it is an encouraging number that is growing every week," they said, adding that the airport hopes to hit the mark of 20,000 passengers per day by the end of July.

All departing and arriving passengers at Brussels Airport are still subject to temperature checks, using thermal cameras, which are "in full compliance with current privacy legislation."

On 18 June, however, Belgium’s Data Protection Authority, in an online statement, said that laws did not allow airports to harvest and process people’s health data with the use of advanced technology.

Additionally, sanitary measures, such as hand hygiene and the cleaning and disinfection of infrastructure, as well as measures to help respect social distance, have been put in place at the airport.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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