Belfast Telegraph

Belgium terror attacks: Travellers cancel trips as city in lockdown

By Lisa Smyth

Holidaymakers from Northern Ireland are cancelling trips to Brussels in the wake of the terror attacks.

A leading travel agent has said 16 customers have already rearranged their travel plans to visit different European destinations following the explosions that claimed the lives of 34 people and injured hundreds more.

And the inaugural flight of a new direct flight between Belfast and Brussels also looks unlikely to go ahead on Sunday as uncertainty remains over when the Belgian city's airport will reopen.

A spokeswoman from Brussels Airlines, which operates the new route between Belfast City Airport and Brussels Airport at Zaventem, last night said they have no idea when normal services will resume. However, she advised against passengers on the scheduled flight contacting the airline directly.

"We are asking passengers to check the website as it has the most up-to-date information," she said.

The company has brought in additional staff to man its call centre and social media sites but they are busy dealing with enquiries from customers whose flights have already been affected - believed to have run into tens of thousands of people.

She said customers booked to fly between Belfast and Brussels until March 28 can rearrange their flight on the website at no cost. Anyone who does not wish to travel can also cancel their flight and this does not have to be done prior to the date of travel, she said.

Travel plans of people travelling between Northern Ireland and Brussels have been plunged into chaos as a result of the deadly explosions.

The Foreign Office was last night advising anyone who travels to the city to remain vigilant and avoid large crowds.

Industry experts are advising travel makers to liaise with their airlines and holiday companies for the most up-to-date information regarding cancellations and refunds.

Delia Aston, proprietor of Clubworld Travel, said: "Passengers are reorganising to travel to other cities, like Seville or Amsterdam.

"It may be they have time booked off work and still want to travel but they don't want to go to Brussels.

"There is still so much uncertainty about when the airport will reopen and the city is in lockdown at the moment so people may not want to travel there for a holiday.

"We have already had 15 or 16 customers come to us to change their travel plans.

"The airlines are being very accommodating, when there is a problem like this everyone rallies together.

"I don't think that in the long term this will affect travel to Brussels, people in Northern Ireland are resilient, and we haven't seen a difference in people travelling to Paris or EuroDisney since the attacks there."

Belfast Telegraph