AEA demands security improvements at Brussels Airport

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Belgium’s Government is under fire from major European airlines over a series of security breaches at state-owned Brussels National Airport, Zaventem in the last six years culminating in an armed raid on a Lufthansa aircraft loading a package of diamonds.

In a letter to the Belgian Minister of Mobility and Transport, Association of European Airlines (AEA) secretary general Karl-Heinz Neumeister, writes: “AEA member airlines consider the current level of security does not comply with international standards, particularly control measures to prevent unauthorised access by persons or vehicles to the airside of the airport.”

The complaint comes months after two successful heists were pulled off at European airports. A Crossair aircraft was held up by robbers in Luxembourg at Findel Airport while security guards for Brinks & Zielger where unloading a security van of gold and cash into a Saab 2000, and the attack on a Lufthansa flight at Brussels in which another Brinks & Zielger truck suffered a similar theft that involved a cargo package of diamonds.

AEA is asking for the Government to “review the security measures in detail as a matter of urgency”. In particular the association is pointing to the way in which identity card thefts are handled by the airport as well as how the airside area is defined. It asks: “Is the airside of Brussels National Airport officially recognised as a “secure area”, as a “private” area or “public” area?”

The association also warns the Government that if security is not improved then AEA member airlines “could be faced with the situation whereby they are unable to accept the transportation of valuable goods from and to Brussels”.

At the time of the theft at Brussels airport in November last year, the Belgian Government set up two audits to assess security at the airport. The first audit group consisted of the Government administration working jointly with the local Brussels airport security committee, which is made up of airline representatives that use the airport. The second security audit is being run on a European level and will be under a new assessment scheme set up by the European Commission.

Brussels International Airport Company (BIAC) which is 63.5% owned by the Belgium Government and manages the airport, was unable to comment on when the audits would be completed. A company spokesman says only: “The audit will define where improvements will be made.”