Airport police slam Zaventem security system

Police working at Brussels Airport have published an open letter censuring the security system at Belgium's national airport. They suggest the 22 March terrorist attack at Zaventem could have been avoided, and also demand more and better guarantees before accepting to restart working at Brussels Airport. Their demands are crucial in the debate on when the airport can actually reopen.

Police working at the airport have been unhappy with general security measures for a long time. In order to voice their discontentment, some 100 members of LPA, a platform representing airport security staff, released an open letter yesterday.

The letter sums up a whole list of grievances, including the easy access to the 4 different levels of the airport building (train, bus, arrivals and departure level), the kiss-and ride zone just in front, the disturbing presence of homeless people, the fact that some workers in the baggage handling area (supposedly) have a (heavy) criminal record etc. They also say reports were drawn up about suspicious-looking people.

"The question was not if this would happen, but when"

The authors say about the terror attack that "according to us, it could have been avoided, it even should have been avoided" arguing they sent out various signals to denounce the situation in the past. They say that the terrorists now had the occasion to carry out reconnaissance tasks without any problem to prepare the attacks.

Other complaints are a lack of staff: many police officers have so much administrative work, that they can hardly focus on their normal security tasks. They also blame poor infrastructure. This is why police are demanding tough guarantees before agreeing to return to work in the new-style (temporary) airport procedures.

Even trades unionists were surprised by the sharp message. The letter was read out during a meeting between trades unions, the federal government and the Brussels Airport authorities negotiating a reopening of the airport.

Extra checks

Even before the letter was released, the Belgian authorities had decided on extra measures. Safety checks will now also be carried out outside the airport premises, and cars will no longer be allowed in front of the building, to mention just a couple. 

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