Yesterday's re-opening was more symbolic than operational, with only 3 planes taking off in the afternoon and returning to home base in the evening. All three of them were Brussels airlines planes. The first one took off shortly before 2 p.m..It's destination: Faro in Portugal. The airbus had 85 passengers on board which is approximately 50% of its capacity depending of the model and the interior configuration.
I was lucky to see it climbing towards the sky from my mother's flat window. I was too late to shoot a photo. So you'll have to make-do with the one below, which I borrowed from the 'www.deredactie.be' website. It was breathtaking and very moving. Moreover, they used the 'new' Magritte theme plane that had been presented to the press and the world only a few days before the murdering attacks.
A fitting tribute to one of Belgium's greatest surrealist artists. 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe' - remember. There was a time that one of Magritte's paintings adorned the tale wing of the Sabena air fleet as part of the company's logo, before it went bankrupt in 2001 due to mismanagement by its partner Swissair.
Today 54 flights are scheduled, and according to the new's sites, everything is going according to plan. Tomorrow there will be even more flights, with other foreign companies serving their slots again. The damaged departure hall is under renovation. Teams are working day and night to have everything ready for the summer exodus. In the meantime you can't get into the airport without a ticket, a valid identity piece and a thorough security check. There are several identity checks, even on the road leading towards the terminal. I think taking a plane has never been safer.
The airport will be rebuild, planes will continue taking off and landing ... but the shock, the pain and the loss of so many innocent lives and the suffering of their next of kin and of those who got badly injured and who will bear the scars for the rest of their lives will be engraved in our hearts and minds for ever.
And this also goes for the victims killed or injured at the Maelbeek metro station. Trains are using the line, but they don't stop at the station yet. The premises have been declared stable by the engineers and the rails have not been damaged, but it'll also take weeks before the underground will be opened again to the public.
P.S.update:I just noticed that this is my 1,000th post! I' m dedicating it to all the victims and their families.