Modernising Brussels Airport

  • From a new terminal in 1994 to the opening of Connector in 2015.


Although the opening of the Satellite building had increased the airport's capacity from 6 million to 8 million passengers a year, that soon proved insufficient to cope with the growing number of passengers. The Master Plan that the then Minister of Transport Herman De Croo presented on 22 January 1985 laid the foundation for the modernization of the airport, which included the construction of a new passenger terminal and pier. His project "Zaventem 2000" would lead to the creation of BATC (Brussels Airport Terminal Company), a private company which would build and operate the new passenger terminal and pier.  On 22 June 1987 the foundation stone for the air traffic control centre CANAC (Computer Assisted National Air Traffic Control Centre) was laid.

BATC built a new terminal that was connected to the 1958 terminal and pier B (for non-Schengen traffic). Pier B was to be 650m long and equipped with 23 boarding bridges. On 12 December 1994 the new complex was inaugurated by King Albert II. The King was presented with a scale model of the monumental statue by Olivier Strebelle that ornamented the departures hall until 2016. By the end of 1984 Brussels Airport had handled over 11 million passengers.

Brussels Airport Company

In 1998 BATC merged with part of the Belgian Airways Agency to become Brussels International Airport Company. The remainder of the Belgian Airways Agency became Belgocontrol. In December 1998 BIAC received the building permit for the construction of Pier A, parallel to pier B and connected to the terminal by a tunnel. Pier A was equipped with 31 contact gates and was intended for Schengen traffic. On 16 May 2002 it was officially opened by Prince Philip.

Air traffic safety is guaranteed by the state-of-the-art control tower that was put into use by Belgocontrol in 2004. In 2004 BIAC was privatised and was renamed Brussels Airport Company, the Belgian state kept 25% of the shares. In 2014, Brussels Airport Company launched its new brand: ‘The heart of Europe’.


One of the most striking innovations at Brussels Airport is Connector, the building which links the passenger terminal to Pier A above-ground. Before Connector passengers had to use a tunnel to go to their gate in Pier A. Many of them considered the tunnel and the fact that they had to change floors using elevators and escalators a nuisance. To improve passenger comfort, the tunnel was replaced by a spacious surface building. Connector was officially opened on 24 March 2015 in the presence of His Majesty the King. On 26 March 2015 the building welcomed its first passengers.

The events of September 11, the demise of Belgian flag carrier Sabena in 2001 and the terrorist attacks of 22nd March 2016 were a heavy setback to the airport, but by 2018 Brussels Airport was once again one of the fastest growing international airports with an all-time record of 25 million passengers.