Airport Statistics & Runway Information
Brussels International Airport, also known by its airport code BRU, serves the Flemish region of Belgium and the city of Brussels in particular. This busy airport provides service to about 19 million passengers each year. This breaks down to more than 1.5 million people per month or 50,000 passengers each day.
The airport also handles about 750,000 tons of airfreight each year through its cargo terminal. This terminal is equipped to handle the loading or unloading of 12 Boeing 747 sized aircraft at a time. Ground facilities include a European Union inspection post as well as specialized handling equipment livestock, fresh meat, and radioactive materials. The cargo terminal also includes a mortuary for the handling of human remains in transit.
The runways and some of the ground maintenance facilities at the airport are also utilized by the Belgium Air Force which operates a air transport wing from the field.
Brussels International Airport utilizes three runways to handle about a quarter million take offs or landings each year. The two parallel runways are the longest at 3,200 meters or 10,500 feet and 3,600 meters or 12,000 feet. These runways are lit and include instrument landing systems as well as other navigational aids and are capable of handling Boeing 747 sized traffic. The crosswind runway is shorter at about 3,000 meters or 9,800 feet and is similarly equipped. The airport operates under noise restrictions from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time each day.
The first air activities came during World War II. The German forces occupying the region built an airstrip. The German facility included three runways of which two are still in use although they have been lengthened, widened and resurfaced multiple times since the war era. During the war, the local population referred to the German military facility as “Melsbroek” after a nearby community.
After the war, a growing demand for commercial aviation prompted the conversion of the airfield into the national airport for Belgium. The newly updated airport, with a new terminal and longer runways, opened on July 20, 1948 with members of the Belgium royal family presiding. Officials have continually expanded the airports passengers, airfreight, and aircraft facilities since. The busiest period of expansion was the period leading up the 1958 World Fair held in Brussels. At that time new terminals and runways were added dramatically increasing capacities and the passenger comfort level.
The airport uses two terminals labeled alphabetically to handle passenger traffic. The terminals have an annual stated capacity of about 21 million people and include about 125 check-in counters and 100 gates. About half of the gates are enclosed contact gates where the passenger is in an enclosed walkway between the terminal and the aircraft.
Passengers changing flights at Brussels International Airport should allow at least a half hour if transferring between two international flights and 45 minutes if transferring between an international and domestic flight.
Parking at Brussels International Airport
Additional facilities for passengers include about 14,000 vehicle parking spaces including both long and short-term parking and a special bicycle parking area for the self-powered traveler.
Future plans for the Brussels International Airport are unclear. Terminal expansion to accommodate more budget airlines has been delayed due to political concerns. Residents in the region have also voiced concerns about noise levels especially at night. The airport is operated by a publicly held corporation although the national government retains about a 25 percent ownership stake.