First post lockdown flight takes off from Brussels Airport
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    First post lockdown flight takes off from Brussels Airport

    7.30 am – 15 June 2020: Flight SN3175 to Rome. Credit: Brussels Airlines.

    The first post-lockdown flight has taken off from Brussels Airport today, marking a start to the official easing of measures on travel across Europe.

    Destined for Rome, flight SN3175 took off ar 7:30 AM on an A320 aircraft, more commonly known by its nickname of ‘Trident.’

    In total, Brussels Airport has 60 flights planned for Monday. The airport will welcome over 4,000 passengers. This number will gradually increase day by day to reach some 14,000 passengers by 1 July.

    The news comes in spite of fears that the resumption of flights could be impacted by the bankruptcy of Brussels Airport’s ground handler Swissport a week before flights were set to resume after the lockdown. According to a statement from the airport on Friday, however, 90% of resumed flights will not experience any difficulties. 

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    “90% of flights at Brussels Airport are covered. We are ready to restart from Monday,” Nathalie Pierard, spokesperson for Brussels Airport, told The Brussels Times. “The two other main airlines, TUI and Ryanair, already work with Aviapartners, so there will not be any issues for their part,” she added.

    The airport is looking for a company to take over Swissport’s activities. “We are in contact with more than ten candidates,” said Brussels Airport CEO Arnaud Feist. “We hope to be able to choose a new baggage handler in the next few weeks.”

    “An important element of the selection will be the staff. It is very clear that we will be asking for priority to be given to Swissport staff,” Feist specified.

    As of Monday, Belgian residents can travel to several countries within Europe as they begin to reopen their borders after months of lockdown.

    France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Poland or Switzerland are among some of the countries to which residents of Belgium are allowed to travel without any apparent restrictions or mandatory conditions, according to the ministry of foreign affairs.

    In view of the pandemic, certain measures are in place at the airport. Each passenger’s temperature is taken at the entrance to the terminal. By 11:00 AM, no one had been sent home with coronavirus symptoms yet, according to airport spokesperson Ihsane Chioua Lekhli. There were, however, several double checks.

    Jules Johnston & Jason Spinks
    The Brussels Times