'Our hearts go out to Brussels', says Birmingham airport boss

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'Our hearts go out to Brussels', says Birmingham airport boss

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Birmingham Airport’s chief executive said yesterday that its staff’s “hearts go out” to sister airport Brussels.

Speaking at an event for stakeholders and media to mark the start of Birmingham Airport’s first Airbus A380 service on Sunday with Emirates, Paul Kehoe addressed Tuesday’s “tragic” massacre in Brussels.

An attack on Brussels’ Zaventem airport killed 11 people, while 20 others died in a bombing at Maelbeek metro. 

Canadian fund the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has minority stakes in both Birmingham Airport and Brussels Airport, along with Copenhagen Airport, and it owns 100% of Bristol Airport.

“Welcome to Birmingham Airport on another great day, notwithstanding the very tragic events which happened yesterday in Brussels,” said Kehoe.

“I think it’s our duty to celebrate success and recognise that we’re not going to let terrorists stop us growing and investing in our economy.

“Our hearts go out to our sister airport, Brussels. We’re owned by the same company – a teachers’ pension fund.

“We know the management team at Brussels very well and it’s a very dark day for them.”

Speaking to Travel Weekly later in the day, Kehoe said the airport could not “just carry on regardless”.

“You always have to be vigilant and watchful but if we hold these values [travel] dear to ourselves and want to maintain these liberties then we can’t bow down in the face of these attacks," he said.

“We have to continue our lives or it’ll be an even bigger tragedy.”

He continued: “I think human kind has an innate desire to travel and if someone stops us doing something, we’ll find a way of doing it.

“Currently we are at the second highest level of security and the top level is effectively being at war or under attack, and the measures in that case are so extreme that we can’t operate at that level for long.

“The government has to take a decision balancing the level of disruption and security and we have to adapt to the plans and policies they put in place.”

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