brussels airport reopen.jpg
Photograph: EPA/LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/POOL

The departure hall at the Brussels international airport partially reopened on Sunday, nearly six weeks after it was damaged during terrorist attacks on the Belgian capital.

"We're again seeing the familiar image of passengers in our departure hall, a big step towards the return to normal activities at the airport, which will give a boost to the economy of the entire nation," chief executive Arnaud Feist said in a statement.

"Brussels is back in business," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said during the opening ceremony, according to the Belga news agency. "We were hit hard, but we are back. This departure hall is the proof of that."

More than 30 people died in the March 22 terrorist attacks, which saw suicide bombers blow themselves up in the airport departure hall and at the Maelbeek underground railway station in Brussels. The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the killings.

The repair work in the departure hall is still ongoing, but passengers are now able to access 111 check-in counters there, while 36 check-in counters will remain operational in temporary structures that were put up after the attacks.

On Sunday afternoon, about 400 passengers used the reopened departure hall to check in for flights to Malaga, Lisbon and Palma de Mallorca, the airport said in a statement.

Its passenger capacity is expected to return to full capacity by mid-June.

Access to the departure hall is limited to passengers, and stepped-up security checks remain in place at the airport. Authorities there continue to recommend that passengers arrive three hours before their flights.

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