Audits have been completed at Brussels National Airport
over security concerns following a spate of armed robberies of valuable items
that has forced more than a dozen carriers to stop carrying such shipments at
the Belgian hub.
Brussels International Airport Company (BIAC), which has
faced criticism from the Association of European Airlines (AEA) over lax
security, says the audit results are expected within weeks.
“According to the first information, Brussels airport
meets all national and international security regulations,” says a spokesman
for the airport authority.
“However, should the audits prove that certain procedures
have to be adapted, we will not fail to make the necessary modifications in
accordance with the decisions the public authorities might take.”
The audits were carried out by a Brussels airport security
committee, the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority and the European Civil Aviation
Sixteen European carriers, including British Airways,
Lufthansa, Air France, Bmi British Midland and Swissair, have already stopped
transporting valuable items - in
particular diamonds - over their concerns for the safety of passengers, crew
and airport staff.
They have been demanding improved security measures at
Brussels National since the first major robbery last October when an armed gang
broke through perimeter fencing and stole a shipment of diamonds from a
Lufthansa Airbus A319. It was followed in April by an attack on a Sabena ATR 72
arriving from Luxembourg.
According to BIAC, the airlines’ boycott is due to the
fact that they could not reach agreement with the Belgian Government over the
escorting of such shipment by the federal police. Belgian law, it says, states
that the power of police is governed by the public authorities and urged the
Belgian Government to take all necessary steps in the fight against this kind
The airport says it has invested heavily to bring infrastructure and procedures in
line with international regulations and claims the facility is as safe as any
other similar European airport.
AEA general manager of security Rene Fennes says the
situation needs to be addressed quickly to prevent further incidents of this
“This is a grave situation and one that needs sorting out
very quickly. We have expressed our concerns, urging improvements at Brussels
for more than four years but there has been a lack of communication from both
the airport authority and Belgian government.
“We will only adopt a wait and see attitude on the audits,
but what is more important is implementing improvements and adapting security
levels to a specific risk. We have hope that there is a willingness for
improvement, but in weeks rather than months,” explains Fennes.
Diamond dealers are now using Schiphol Airport in
Amsterdam as the main point for transporting goods in and out of Brussels.