Terror strikes Brussels Airport in its Heart

The deadly terrorist attacks at Brussels Airport have led to a complete lock-down of the airport as well as the entire Brussels region. As no plane is allowed in or out, air cargo too is severely impacted.

All traffic from and to the airport was blocked, like here at the intersection leading to Brucargo  -  copyright: Belga
All traffic from and to the airport was blocked, like here at the intersection leading to Brucargo - copyright: Belga

This morning, two explosions, one caused by a suicide bomber, devastated parts of the departure terminal of Brussels Airport Zaventem. The attacks took place at the information desks of Brussels Airlines and American Airlines respectively, costing the lives of 14, injuring many. Another bombing followed shortly after at the Maelbeek subway station in the heart of the European quarter of the city, killing 20 people. Right after the airport blasts at 8 a.m. the passengers were instantly brought to the parking area of the nearby DHL Express offices. Immediately all traffic from and to the airport was blocked by security forces, by closing down the railway station as well as the motorway access roads to the airport.
Impossible to close off
The cargo zone Brucargo remained open, at the landside that is. But even there, the effects of the tragedy were clearly felt. “After the passage of ambulances, the fire brigade, police cars and army trucks, we found ourselves in an atmosphere of deadly silence”, a forwarder has testified.
Brussels Airport Company says that it is impossible to close off an immense public space like an airport. The terrible effects of the loss of innocent lives and the immediate damage caused to the terminal, there will certainly be followed by the fall-out of image damage, the cargo community feels. “Half an hour after the attack, it was already known in Dubai”, says Peter Karreman, VP Europe of DHL Global Forwarding/StarBroker.

LGG: operations as usual
In November 2015, the airport was already struck by a lock-down following the Paris attacks. Now the general feeling is that the present situation exceeds any possible worst-case scenario. As all air travel has been grounded, some flights have been diverted to other Belgian airports, like Liege. At LGG, the situation is normal, says spokesman Christian Delcourt. The cargo operations will continue as scheduled.
DHL Express and DHL Parcel are among the cargo companies severely affected by the terrorist attacks. In a statement, the company says that DHL Express and DHL Parcel have temporarily suspended delivery and pick-up services in the city centre and have strengthened security measures at facilities, including their hub at Zaventem Airport. “All flights to/from Brussels are currently suspended, and we are therefore reviewing contingency options for shipments currently scheduled to transit Brussels to ensure that they can be re-routed and that disruption for customers is minimized. Delays on shipments to or from Brussels are likely. Services to other locations in Belgium are being maintained.”
Brussels Airport was hit in its heart. In a statement released at 3 p.m., Brussels Airport Company said it was impossible for them to say when operations will be resumed. CEO Arnaud Feist said that this day is without doubt the blackest in the airport’s history.
Cargo security measures strenghtened
"Following the attacks the Belgian aviation authority DGLV/DGTA has ordered that air cargo that has been screened in-house is allowed to fly. Cargo coming from a known consignor or a regulated agent has to be rescreened if there is a presumption, however small, that the secure supply chain has not been respected or has been breached."

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

CargoForwarder Global and its staff would like to express their condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the ferocious attacks in Brussels. So does Rajendra Dubey, head of European Cargo Services (ECS) in India, who asked us in a TelCon to express his dismay and consternation. 

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