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Brussels Airport (also called Brussel Nationaal/Bruxelles-National (Brussels National)) is an international airport located in Zaventemmarker, northeast of Brusselsmarker, Belgiummarker.

The airport is home to around 260 companies, together directly employing 6,000 people.

In 2005, the airport was awarded Best Airport in Europe by Airports Council International/International Air Transport Association (ACI/IATA), based on a survey conducted with over 100,000 passengers worldwide.

The airport received an official name on 19 October 2006: Brussels Airport, Welcome to Europe. According to the airport operator, its main characteristics are: European, Welcoming and Efficient.

The company operating the airport is known as "The Brussels Airport Company N.V./S.A."; before 19 October 2006, the name was BIAC (Brussels International Airport Company).


The origins of Brussels Airport at Zaventem date back to 1940, when the German occupying force laid claim to of agricultural fields to the east of Brussels, near the Belgian military back-up airfield "Steenokkerzeel". The Germans constructed 3 runways in the shape of a triangle: runway 02/20 and 07L/25R which are still in use today, and runway 12/30. The airfield buildings however were constructed within the territory of the nearby municipality of Melsbroek and not of Zaventem, which is why the airfield was known to the locals as the airfield of Melsbroek, or "Fliegerhorst Melsbroek" to the Germans. There is an urban legend that the site of the airport was chosen by the Germans after asking locals where to build it - the Belgians then pointed to this location as it was often foggy.

After the liberation (3 September 1944), the German infrastructure at Melsbroek fell into the hands of the Britishmarker. When the old civilian airport in Harenmarker became too small, the Belgian authorities decided to use the aerodrome at Melsbroek for the new national airport. By 1948, a new terminal building was constructed to replace the old wooden building. In the same year, the length of both runways 02/20 and 07L/25R were increased to and respectively, whereas 12/30 remained at . The civil aerodrome of Melsbroek was officially opened by Prince Charles, Count of Flanders, the Prince Regent on 20 July 1948. From 1948 to 1956 many more buildings and facilities were erected, but almost always on the Melsbroek side of the site.

In 1955, a train line connecting the city centre of Brussels with the airport was constructed. The line was officially opened by King Baudouin on 15 May 1955. A direct train link with Leuvenmarker and Liègemarker was opened on 12 December 12 2005.

In 1956 a new runway was constructed, the 07R/25L which runs parallel with 07L/25R. The runway is still in use today and saw its length later increased to . In April 1956 the Belgian government decided to build a new airport, using the same runways, but with the buildings located within the territory of the municipality of Zaventem. In April 1957, construction started of the new terminal, preparing the airport for the 1958 World Fair. The grass runway 12/30 had to make way to allow for the new passenger terminal. This new airport was inaugurated 5 July 1958, almost just in time for the 1958 World Fair. So historically, the birth date of Zaventem Airport is 5 July 1958. Incidentally, the buildings on the Melsbroek side are still in use by the Belgian Air Force (15th Air Transport Wing), and is still known as Melsbroek airfield. Both Zaventem Airport and Melsbroek Air Basemarker, the military airfield, share the same runways.

During the boom of commercial aviation in the 1960s and 1970s, several hangars were constructed. A new cargo terminal was constructed in 1976. In 1994, a brand new terminal was constructed adjacent to the old 1958 building. Two old piers were torn down and replaced by modern ones. In 2002, amidst the turmoil engulfing the demise of the national airline Sabena, a new pier was opened. This Pier A is destined to support flights from and to the Schengen treaty countries and supports since the 15th of October 2008 all flights to African destinions (at the T-gates).

The airport is operated by The Brussels Airport Company, owned by the Australian group MAp Airports (75%) and the Belgian State (25%). The company president is Luc Van den Bossche (former Belgian government minister). The position of CEO is currently vacant.

Brussels airport currently consists of 54 contact gates, and a total of 109 gates.

In 2007, the airport served 17.8 million passengers, an increase of 7% over 2006. The cargo volume in the same year amounted to 780,000 tonnes, an increase of 8.9% over 2006. In 2008, the airport served 18,5 million passengers, which was an increase of 3,7% over the previous year.

Sabena's demise meant a sharp fall in passenger traffic, a blow the airport only slowly recovered from. The airport's future is threatened by disagreement between the governments of Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region concerning nocturnal air traffic routes.

Brussels Airport is operated by The Brussels Airport Company, formerly known as BIAC (Brussels International Airport Company), which was created by Belgian law through a merger of BATC with the ground operations departments of the RLW/RVA.

The construction of a new low-cost airlines pier is currently on hold. It will be built roughly where the old south pier used to be. At present, several low-cost airlines including Ryanair and Wizz Air fly to "Brussels South Airport", actually located in Charleroimarker, away from Brussels.

In March 2009, the old mechanical Flight information display system were replaced by electronic ones.

In September 2009, CEO Wilfried Van Assche resigned. One of the (unofficial) reasons is the delay of the construction of the lowcostterminal and the possible lawsuit by 52 airlines active at Brussels Airport, because of the tax-discrimination.


Car and taxi

Departure drop-off
Departure drop-off being renovated
Brussels Airport can be reached by car via the A201, which is directly connected to the R0 highway. From there, the main highways of Belgium can directly be accessed.


Brussels Airport has a special separated road that provides access to the airport for bikers and pedestrians. There is also a special place to park bikes.


The Brussels Airport railway stationmarker is located under the airport building at level -1. The train station has direct services to Brussels, De Pannemarker, Ghentmarker, Hasseltmarker, Landenmarker, Leuvenmarker, Liègemarker, Nivellesmarker and Quévymarker.

A direct train link with Leuven and Liège was opened on 12 December 2005. A direct link with Antwerpmarker and Mechelenmarker via the so-called Diabolo line will be completed in 2012.


Brussels Airlines (operated by Airport Express) provides an hourly shuttle service to and from Antwerp. The fee is 10 EUR. The bus leaves at level 0 from Brussels Airport and arrives in Antwerp in the De Keyserlei (which is right next to the train station Antwerp-Centralmarker). The bus can also stop at the Crown Plaza on request.

De Lijn provides transportation to and from various cities in Flanders.

Airlines and destinations




Image:Haren.png|The old airport of Haren in 1929Image:Hoofdgebouw aug 1974 Zaventem.JPG|The old terminalImage:Zaventem PierA.jpg|Pier Aimage: PierAbruAirport.jpg|Pier A seen from the airport buildingImage: BRUPierB.jpg|Pier B seen from outsideImage:Brussels Airport tower.JPG|The control towerImage:Airport Zaventem.jpg|Brussels Airport at duskImage:Brussels Airport skyline.JPG|The airprt skyline, as seen from the southeast side

Incidents and accidents

See also


  1. Expatica: Record numbers of passengers at Brussels Airport
  2. Shuttles Brussels - Charleroi Airport
  4. AirDisaster.Com

External links

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