10 DAYS AND COUNTING AS ZAVENTEM REMAINS CLOSED FOR TRAFFIC
(Posted 31st March 2016)
Following the last tweet by @BrusselsAirport at 17.28 hrs yesterday afternoon, which read:
The evaluation of the trial is still ongoing and will take at least till tomorrow afternoon. No flights till then.
has no further information emerged, not from any of the airlines nor the airport itself about the likely day, or if it were today the hour of re-opening Zaventem for passenger traffic.
This has been greeted with some level of consternation in Eastern Africa, from where contacts in Uganda and Rwanda have began to ask questions why it should take that long to install and begin to use temporary facilities for check in.
At least two regular commentators have pointed to the devastating fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport which destroyed the entire arrivals section and adjoining offices, and where after a two days closure – with forensics experts still combing the scene of the fire for evidence – the airport reopened using large tents to process arriving passengers.
While the circumstances are admittedly not entirely the same are there enough similarities however and regular travelers to Brussels are by the look of it now beginning to switch to other airports, to reach their final destination in Europe and easy connecting flights on intercontinental routes.
It is understood that the pressure on Brussels Airport to reopen today has grown exponentially as airlines are continuing to count the cost of using other airports, or in some cases like American Airlines having suspended flights altogether.
Said a Nairobi based aviation source when asked to comment, on condition of not being named: ‘When we had the fire in Nairobi in August 2013, we also stared disaster in the face. This was, despite of the downturn of arrivals to Kenya at the time, high season and Nairobi could ill afford to stay closed for very long. Airlines were diverting to Entebbe, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and you don’t want your airline customers to suddenly think why not use those airports on a more regular basis. This was a real fear because of the many other problems JKIA had at the time, overcrowding, operational incidents like runway closure, power failures and so on. Personally I would have thought that Brussels would be open already since early this week. After all these guys have all the facilities, all the equipment, all the capacity to put up and use temporary structures. For sure I thought by yesterday they would be open but to hear it might be late today or even tomorrow is now casting doubts on their ability to accomplish that. Be it their building standards or regulations or approval mechanisms, whatever, this further delay will have big implications for the airlines flying to Brussels. Who will pay for their mounting losses?‘.
Indeed is it now the airlines which are thought to be putting the most pressure on the airport management to complete their assessments and get back into the game to avoid Brussels being relegated into a secondary European airport, handing extra traffic to other airports like Amsterdam, Duesseldorf or even as far as Frankfurt and Paris.
All eyes from around the aviation world are now no doubt glued on the Twitter feed of Brussels Airport to learn when the airport finally gets the all clear to resume passenger flights. Still, it might well take another day or two to shift operations back to Brussels and gear up to full flight schedules.
Watch this space!