Armed robbers have attacked a shipment of valuables being
offloaded from a Sabena aircraft at Brussels National Airport just days after
European airlines sharply criticised security at the hub.
Shots were fired as three robbers attempted to steal the cargo
at about 21:15 last night as it was being transported across the apron after
arriving on a Sabena ATR 72 turboprop from Luxembourg.
There were no passengers on the aircraft or in the vicinity
at the time, only crew members, and no-one was injured during the attack.
Although the bandits escaped, and are being hunted by police, a spokesman for
Brussels Airport says the robbers missed their intended target and failed to
snatch the valuables.
But this latest heist has sent shockwaves through the airport
authority, which had been about to implement a series of new security measures
drawn up in the wake of a robbery at the end of last year, during which armed
raiders attacked a Lufthansa Airbus A319 at Brussels and stole a cargo of
Last month the Association of European Airlines (AEA) blasted
security at Brussels, claiming in a letter to the Belgian Government that the
airport’s security did not comply with international standards. It singled out
a lack of measures to prevent airside access by unauthorised persons.
But despite last night’s robbery the Brussels Airport
spokesman rejects the AEA claim, saying: “We have safety measures comparable to
those at Amsterdam, Paris and other major airports.
“What can we do? These robbers first removed a concrete
barrier, then cut through the perimeter fence. We have several kilometres of
fencing. We cannot post guards along the fence every couple of hundred yards,
24hrs a day.”
He stresses that new security guidelines are awaiting
approval and that further urgent measures, particularly relating to the
transport of valuables across the apron, will be discussed following yesterday’s
In its letter the AEA has warned that member airlines might
be forced to refuse requests to handle valuable goods at Brussels if the
security situation does not improve.