Easter holiday travel: Brussels attacks and wider warnings prompt widespread disruption

Travellers have been warned to to 'allow adequate time for security clearance at airports, borders and ports'

The Easter holiday begins with the travel industry in some disarray - mainly because of the attacks in Brussels on Tuesday, but also because of wider warnings. 

Travel to, from and within Brussels remains severely disrupted following the attacks on 22 March, while in Paris the French interior minister says a separate terror plot has been foiled by police.

ABTA, the travel association, is advising all travellers “to allow adequate time for check in and security clearance at airports, borders and ports”.


Flights

The main airport in the Belgian capital, Zaventem, will remain closed until Monday morning at the earliest. Some airlines are flying again from other airports. 

The main carrier, Brussels Airlines, has resumed some services, but not from its main hub. A reduced short-haul service is operating from Antwerp and Liege airports, including to Manchester and Edinburgh. Long-haul links, to Africa and North America, are operating from Frankfurt and Zurich - with connecting flights offered by Lufthansa and Swiss, which are part of the same group.

British Airways has suspended all flights from Heathrow to Brussels until Wednesday at the earliest. Anyone booked to travel before then can get a full refund. Passengers with tickets for the following five days can postpone their trip or switch destination without penalty. BA resumes flights to Belgium on Friday, serving the city of Liege for the first time in its history. The two departures are intended mainly for connecting passengers who are holding tickets for Brussels. 

Ryanair has shifted all of its Zaventem flights until 29 March to Charleroi airport, 30 miles south of Brussels. Passengers who have already printed out a boarding pass for the original airport can use it from Charleroi. The airline says: “Please arrive at least 3 hours before your scheduled flight time and allow extra time for your extra security checks.”

Meanwhile easyJet has switched all its Brussels flights to Lille, across the border in France, up to and including Easter Sunday. The airline is providing onward transport for arriving passengers, and offers to cover the cost of travel for departing travellers.

BMI Regional is not operating to Brussels until Monday at the earliest. Passengers booked to fly to and from the city within the next four weeks can transfer to an alternative flight free of charge. 


Trains

Eurostar is running a full train service from London to Brussels, but passengers holding bookings until 29 March have the chance to postpone travel if they wish. Passengers to all destinations are being told to check in an hour early because of enhanced security. The train operator expects to carry 20,000 passengers on Good Friday.


City transport

From Friday four Metro lines are running in Brussels, but 31 stations are closed. Most trams and buses are running normally.


Travel warnings

On Thursday Belgium reduced the official threat level from 4, the highest, to 3. But the Foreign Office says British travellers to Belgium should “remain vigilant, stay away from crowded places and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities”. 

Football fans in Berlin for the friendly match between Germany and England on Saturday should carry their passports because, according to the FCO, “the police are currently carrying out more frequent ID checks”.

For visitors to Turkey, where four tourists were killed in another suicide bomb attack last Saturday, the FCO says it is “increasingly likely” that attacks will target Western interests and tourism: “Terrorist groups, including Daesh and the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), have publicly threatened to attack tourist sites in Turkey.” 

The most dangerous place for travellers this Easter is likely to be South Africa, because of the shocking death toll on the country’s roads during the holiday. Last Easter 333 people died between Good Friday and Easter Monday. The transport minister says traffic police have been instructed “to show no mercy and adopt zero tolerance to traffic law violations during this period”.


UK travel

The usual crop of bank-holiday rail shutdowns for engineering work is under way. No trains will run on the main London Victoria-Gatwick-Brighton line, with services serving London Bridge instead. The West Coast main line is closed at Stafford, with trains diverted via Stoke. And Manchester Victoria station is closed through to 3 April.

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