For a couple of beers and a bag of chocolate
There is a joke that says that the busiest moments at the Brussels airport are Monday mornıngs and friday afternoons - when the European Commission clerks arrive in and depart from the EU's central city. but it's no joke that the Brussels airport is a transportation hub of great importance for business travelers in Europe
Situated 12 kilometres northeast of the city of brussels, the airport has an interesting history. The area between the two towns of Zaventem and Melsbroek was first used as an airport by the Luftwaffle troops, which built the infrastructure during the occupation of belgium in 1940. Legend says that the choice of the slightly foggy lands around melsbroek was part of the belgian resistance's successful strategy to trick the german engineers. As legends often go, however, some facts have been omitted-in this case, the fact that foggy and swampy terrains are preferred and sought after for military airports.
Air travel has significant traditions in belgium, with brussels ( via its old airport near Haren). being a key destination between Paris and London during the 1920s an '30s.
The true reason for the development of belgian aviation, however, lies in the goverment's colonial strategy for the Congo ( the first regular flight to there was conducted in 1935). The airport once included cozy wooden structures and spacious brick hangars. Tradition says that next to the runway there was a bar where passengers could have a beer before boarding.
After the war the airport near Melsbroek started to expand along with the increasing interest in civilian aviation. in 1995 a railway station was even constructed to connect the central railway station in brussels with the airport. The national carrier at the time SABENA, even offered an unprecedented innovation for its time-integrated passenger baggage service. You board the train, check your bags in then and there, and they end up on the plane with you. That is a convenience, which, unfortunately, is no longer offered today.
The actual location of the airport near Zaventem was chosen in 1956 when a decision was made to construct an entirely new airport, since Brussels was to host the World Expo in 1958 and the old Melsbroek terminal could not handle the expected passenger traffic. The new airport was opened in time for the expo. The terminal, which is part of what is known today as Pier1, had modern architecture with big round openings for windows and special roof terraces, where for a small price people colud wavw their goodbyes to the passengers.
The development and expansion of the Brussels Airport has been a complex process, driven by the market curve. That is why you can see so many remnants of different eras and buildings with different architectural styles. in the 1990s two new terminal, Pier1 and Pier 2, were constructed. The first one incorporates and preserves parts of the original building from the 1950s. The second terminal is used for transoceanic flights and flights to non-Schengen countries. For historic reasons, Brussels is a destination from which you can easily and quickly reach the African continent. Another distinctive feature of the Brussels Airport is its punctuality - the airport received the 'most punctual airport' award for 2006 and 2007. if you dont work for a european institution and would like to visit brussels, do so over the weekend - thar way you can avoid the boring crowds of suits scurrying about the gates..