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Aviation: Flying visit to Brussels


Brussels National has had its ups and downs since the turn of the millennium, with a terrorist attack and the bankruptcy of the national carrier causing substantial drops in traffic. Nevertheless it has rebounded, as Tyler McDowell found when he paid a quick visit.

Brussels National Airport, also known as Zaventem, has been the main international air travel hub for Belgium since it opened in 1930.

At the dawn of the 2000s however, there were changes to the established order of aviation as the European Union. Deregulation in 2001 eventually caused the failure of Belgium’s national airline SABENA, which was one of the oldest names in commercial aviation. The ashes of the airline were subsequently combined with Delta Air Transport to become SN Brussels Airlines, and then a merger with Virgin Express in 2007 created a new flag carrier, Brussels Airlines.

Brussels Airlines continued to operate from Brussels Airport (BRU) with a fleet of short haul Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft, along with widebodied A330s for long-range missions. The airport’s second largest operator is now TUI Belgium, which previously flew as Jetairfly. The carrier has a fleet of Boeing 737-700, -800 and -8MAX, 767-300s, and 787-8 Dreamliners. It also uses Embraer 190s on thinner routes.

On the March 22, 2016 a terrorist attack in the check-in hall brought BRU to a halt during the busy morning peak. Thirty five people died and a further 340 people were injured. It took several months to repair and rebuild the infrastructure, but everything is now back in action and better than ever.

A terrorist attack devastated the departure hall in 2016. It has since been rebuilt.