Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Monday, 4 April 2016

A fitting new start and tribute

Yesterday, Sunday April 3rd, 12 days after the deadly explosions at Brussels airport, the first commercial flight since the attacks took off from the damaged airport. A temporary departure hall has been erected. Its capacity is limited to 800 passengers per hour. Peanuts compared to the airport's normal capacity, but at least the airport is rising from its ashes.

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 '' 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.  

Google images

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.


Taste of France said...

So sad about Belgium. People will bounce back. There were attacks in the '70s and '80s--the Red Brigade in Italy, for example. In the '90s, there was Sinn Fein in the U.K. and GIA in France (I was evacuated from the Musée d'Orsay in the '90s after a bomb scare during a spate of Metro attacks). Security will improve and people will refuse to give in to fear.
Separately, re Sabena, you know the joke was that it stood for "such a bad experience, never again." I never found it to be quite that bad.

Bob said...

congratulations on the milestone!!!! i have enjoyed all your posts and look forward to many, many more. by the way, where do you stand on the retirement process. I am happy to say, mine has been approved and will get my first social security check in June.

Rhodesia said...

Congrats on your 1000th post and a very worthwhile dedication. Diane

Jean said...

I'm so glad to see the airport operating again so soon.
It's important to show that the actions of terrorists will not bring a whole nation to its knees.

VirginiaC said...

Rising from the ashes...the Brussels spirit will not be extinguished so easily....happy that the airport has reopened.

chm said...

I, too, will congratulate you on that achievement. I recall what you said at the begining of your blogging! It is very thoughtful of you to dedicate this milestone to the victims of this tragedy and their families.

Leon Sims said...

Martine - Our son Andrew may be moving to Belge. He currently lives in Berlin and has applied for an academic position and has an interview next week. The University is flying him from Berlin to Brussells so I guess he flys to that airport.
Anyway if he is successful, we will visit him for his birthday this November.
Hope you are keeping well.
Leon and Sue

chm said...

Happy birthday, Martine, and many, many returns of the day. Hope the next one will see you a very happy young retiree!
As usual, I'll be in France this summer. Maybe I'll have the pleasure to see you?

ladybird said...

Chm, Thank you so much for your kind birthday wishes. And thank you too for remembering the date:) It was heart warming to receive your message! The fist on this Monday April 11th!! I hope I will be able to make it to France this summer ... But I can't promise anything right now.

Thank you all for your kind messages and support after the terrible events in Brussels. Today Brussels airport is up to 3/4 of its usual capacity and 4/5 of the metro stations are open again. Almost back to normal ...

Leon Sims said...

Martine - It looks like we will finally get to Belge.
Our son Andrew has just been offered a position at a university about 30 kms out of Brussels.
It for two years and he is looking for accomodation - where should he not look at.
The University is at Louvain ls Neuve.
You can now email us at

Leon Sims said...

It's you birthday???? Many good wishes from Leon and Sue.