Expatica news

Inquiry as planes keep flying after security scare

28 April 2006

BRUSSELS — Air traffic to and from terminal A at Zaventem Airport was only stopped shortly before 7am on Thursday, an hour after an suspicious man had escaped from a security check. 

The man was to undergo a security check at 5.55am at terminal A, which services flights to and from Schengen nations.

When the metal detector was triggered and security officers wanted to perform a body search, the man fled from the scene and disappeared among other passengers.

But it was only decided at 6.30am to shut down air traffic at the terminal. And a further seven planes departed after that time to other Schengen countries.
The last flight departed at about 7am, more than an hour after the man fled from airport security officers.

In the aftermath, security camera footage indicated that the man had left the airport shortly after 6am.

But at that moment, it was also possible that he’d boarded a plane or had passed a weapon onto someone else.

Destination airports were therefore requested to carry out intensified security checks on flights arriving from Brussels.
Evidently, air traffic was grounded too late, sparking concerns over security, news service VRT reported on Friday.

The federal Transport Ministry ahs since admitted an error was made at the airport on Thursday. Spokesman Eric Aerden said an investigation is now underway.

“I can now confirm that between the incident and the carrying out of a decision to ground air traffic and evacuate the terminal, a full hour is way too long,” Aerden said.

“Lessons must certainly be taken from this for the future, this clearly cannot be repeated.”

Some 80 flights were disrupted, 24 of which were cancelled, after the terminal was evacuated on Thursday.

Passengers were allowed to return to departure lounges at 10am, some four hours after the initial incident sparked a major security alert.

Flights between Schengen countries occur with minimal security, allowing passengers to bypass passport control.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news