Brussels Airport reopens to thin stream of passengers

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Brussels Airport Resumes Passenger Flights

BRUSSELS, April 3 (Reuters) - Brussels Airport reopened to a thin stream of passengers on Sunday, 12 days after suicide bombers destroyed its departure hall and killed 16 people.

SEE ALSO: Two additional US citizens confirmed killed in Brussels attack

Belgium's main airport had not handled passenger flights since two suspected Islamist militants carried out the suicide attacks. Those bombs and a separate one on a metro train in the capital killed 32 people, excluding the three bombers.

The first of three scheduled flights set for Sunday was due to depart for Faro in Portugal at 1:40 p.m. local time (1140 GMT), with only about 60-70 passengers. Planes will also go to Turin and Athens later in the day, with three return flights set for the evening.

The first passengers for nearly two weeks fed into a vast temporary marquee housing security controls and check-in facilities.

Arnaud Feist, the airport's chief executive, said Sunday would be an emotional day for many airport staff, but described the partial reopening as a sign of hope.

PHOTOS: Brussels airport reopens after attacks:

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Brussels airport reopens after attacks
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Brussels Airport reopens to thin stream of passengers
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Brussels airlines planes wait at the flight line at the Zaventem airport on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Belgian policemen take security measurements outside the Zaventem airport on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Belgian policemen take security measurements outside the Zaventem airport on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Belgian policemen stand outside the Zaventem airport on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Zaventem airport is seen on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Brussels airlines planes wait at the flight line at the Zaventem airport on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Zaventem airport is seen on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Belgian policemen speaks to a driver outside the Zaventem airport on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Belgian policemen stand outside the Zaventem airport on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Brussels airport is seen on its reopening day, in Zaventem, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 3: Belgian policemen speaks to a driver outside the Zaventem airport on its reopening day, near Brussels, Belgium, on April 3, 2016. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22 suicide bombings there and at a metro station in the city killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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On Monday, the airport will serve a far wider range of destinations, including one plane also due out to New York and two more to cities in Cameroon, Gambia and Senegal.

Many flights have been rerouted to Belgium's regional airports or other nearby hubs such as Amsterdam and Paris, with high-speed trains to and from Brussels packed.

Brussels Airport has warned passengers to arrive three hours before their flights due to increased security and to come by car. The normal train and bus services are not running.

Special cameras will be set up to read number plates, there will be random checks of vehicles and the drop-off zone will not be accessible.

Passengers and their baggage will be checked on arrival and there will be increased patrols of armed police and military.

The airport is one of the largest in Europe, handling 23.5 million passengers per year. It links the Belgian capital, headquarter city of the European Union and NATO, with 226 destinations worldwide through 77 airlines.

With its temporary check-in zone, it will only be able to handle some 800 departing passengers or about five to six flights per hour, around 20 percent of previous capacity.

The airport says it aims to return to maximum capacity before the start of summer holidays at the end of June or early July, with some check-in desks restored in the departure hall, followed by a full reopening of that space.

Brussels Airlines, Belgium's largest carrier and 45 percent owned by Germany's Lufthansa, has estimated the closure of its Brussels hub is costing it 5 million euros ($5.7 million) per day.

The city's association of hotel operators pointed to the closed airport as one of the main reasons for a more than 50 percent drop in overnight stays in the week following the bombings. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Dale Hudson)

PHOTOS: Brussels attack trigger international security response:

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Brussels Attacks: International security response
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Brussels Airport reopens to thin stream of passengers
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 22: (FRANCE OUT) French police officers patrol at the Trocadero Plaza next to the Eiffel Tower on March 22, 2106 in Paris, France. Since this morning 400 policemen and gendarmes have been deployed to increase the security in airports, stations and public transportation around Paris and its region after the terrorist attacks in Brussels today. (Photo by Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images)
German police officers guard a terminal of the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, when various explosions hit the Belgian capital Brussels killing several people. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
An Israeli airport security guard patrols with a dog in Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. After the Brussels attacks, Israel briefly announced that all Israeli flights from Europe were canceled, then reinstated the flights, Israel Airports Authority spokesman Ofer Leffler said. Pini Schiff, former director of security at Ben-Gurion Airport, said the attack in the Brussels airport was âa colossal failureâ of Belgian security, and he said âthe chances are very lowâ that such a bombing could take place in Israelâs airport. Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport is considered among the most secure in the world, an outcome stemming from several Palestinian attacks on Israeli planes and travelers in the 1970s. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A police officer guards a terminal of the airport during tighter security measures in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Travelers wait at the counter of Brussels airlines in Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. After the Brussels attacks, Israel briefly announced that all Israeli flights from Europe were canceled, then reinstated the flights, Israel Airports Authority spokesman Ofer Leffler said. Pini Schiff, former director of security at Ben-Gurion Airport, said the attack in the Brussels airport was âa colossal failureâ of Belgian security, and he said âthe chances are very lowâ that such a bombing could take place in Israelâs airport. Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport is considered among the most secure in the world, an outcome stemming from several Palestinian attacks on Israeli planes and travelers in the 1970s. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
An Israeli airport security guard patrols with a dog in Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. After the Brussels attacks, Israel briefly announced that all Israeli flights from Europe were canceled, then reinstated the flights, Israel Airports Authority spokesman Ofer Leffler said. Pini Schiff, former director of security at Ben-Gurion Airport, said the attack in the Brussels airport was âa colossal failureâ of Belgian security, and he said âthe chances are very lowâ that such a bombing could take place in Israelâs airport. Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport is considered among the most secure in the world, an outcome stemming from several Palestinian attacks on Israeli planes and travelers in the 1970s. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
French soldiers check unattended boxes left on the platform at Gare De Lyon railway station in Paris, France, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities are tightening security at airports and on the streets of European cities after attacks on the Brussels airport and subways system that killed at least one person and injured many others. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Passengers of an ICE train leave the train at its final stop at the station in Aachen, Germany, near to the Belgian border Tuesday March 22, 2016. German police have increased security measures at the borders following the terrorist attacks in Brussels. (Ralf Roeger/dpa via AP)
Passengers at Warsawâs Frederic Chopin airport in Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, pass by an information board that lists flights to Brussels as canceled, following deadly blasts at Busselsâ airport. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
A German police officer guards a terminal of the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Tuesday, March 22, 2016, when various explosions hit the Belgian capital Brussels killing several people. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Border guards patrol at Warsawâs Frederic Chopin airport in Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 after security measures were increased at Polandâs airports following attacks in Brussels , Belgium. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Border Guards patrol at Warsawâs Frederic Chopin airport in Warsaw, Poland on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 after security measures were increased at Polandâs airports following attacks in Brussels , Belgium. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
French police officers patrol outside the Gare du Nord train station, where high speed trains depart to Brussels, in Paris, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe and across the world tightened security at airports, railway stations, government buildings and other key points after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 22: (FRANCE OUT) French police officers patrol at the Trocadero Plaza next to the Eiffel Tower on March 22, 2106 in Paris, France. Since this morning 400 policemen and gendarmes have been deployed to increase the security in airports, stations and public transportation around Paris and its region after the terrorist attacks in Brussels today. (Photo by Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images)
A police officer with a sniffer dog checks a trash bin at the airport in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Danish police patrol Copenhagen International Airport, in Kastrup, Denmark, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (Jens Dresling/POLFOTO via AP) DENMARK OUT
An electronic billboard displays two canceled flight to Brussels at Milan's Malpensa international airport, in Busto Arsizio, Italy, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
An armed British policeman stands on duty outside as tourists walk past Horse Guards parade in central London, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe and beyond have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
London's Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe leaves the Cabinet Office in London, after a government emergency meeting in the wake of the attacks in Brussels, Tuesday, March, 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe and beyond have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Police officers patrol the check in area of the Milan's Malpensa international airport, in Busto Arsizio, Italy, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
A Eurostar train arrivals board shows the Brussels route is cancelled due to "Security Alert in Brussels", at St Pancras international railway station in London, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe and beyond have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Italian police officers patrol Leonardo Da Vinci airport in Fiumicino, near Rome, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe and beyond have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A Italian police dog sniffs passengers' luggage at Leonardo Da Vinci airport in Fiumicino, near Rome, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe and beyond have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
A member of the Counter Terrorism Centre (TEK) patrols the area in front of the Parliament in downtown Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Hungary raised its terrorism awareness level to grade 2 after a series of attacks in Brussels. (Zoltan Balogh/MTI via AP)
German police officers guard a terminal of the airportthe in Frankfurt, Germany, during tighter security measures Tuesday, March 22, 2016, when various explosions hit the Belgian capital Brussels killing several people. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Counter Terrorism Centre (TEK) personnel arrive with an APC vehicle at the parking facility of the Liszt Ferenc International Airport in Budapest, Hungary, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Hungary raised its terrorism awareness level to grade 2 after a series of attacks in Brussels. (Zsolt Szigetvary/MTI via AP)
French soldier patrols in Gare De Lyon railway station in Paris, France, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities are tightening security at airports and on the streets of European cities after attacks on the Brussels airport and subways system that killed at least one person and injured many others. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
French soldiers patrol in the subway entrance station in Paris, France, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities are tightening security at airports and on the streets of European cities after attacks on the Brussels airport and subways system that killed at least one person and injured many others. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Police officers patrol inside a terminal of the airport during tighter security measures in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe.(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Tourist police officers patrol the Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/ Pavel Golovkin)
Passengers queue at a check in area of the Milan's Malpensa international airport, in Busto Arsizio, Italy, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Authorities in Europe have tightened security at airports, on subways, at the borders and on city streets after deadly attacks Tuesday on the Brussels airport and its subway system. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
PARIS, March 22, 2016-- Police officers patrol at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, capital of France, March 22, 2016. Security has been beefed up in France with 1,600 police officers deployed at airports, railway stations and bus stations since the attacks on Brussels Tuesday. (Xinhua/Theo Duval via Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - MARCH 22: Hungarian counter-terrorism agents secure the Liszt Ferenc International Airport in Budapest, Hungary on March 22, 2016 following high level security alert following the morning explosions in Brussels. At least 34 people were killed and more than 100 injured in multiple explosions at an airport and metro station in Brussels on today's morning. (Photo by Arpad Kurucz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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