The Brussels Airport Ombudsman, Philippe Touwaide, has addressed a letter, dated Tuesday, October 3, 2023, to the Belgian Federal Minister of Mobility, Georges Gilkinet. It was a formal letter, yet the content was far from ordinary.
“Monsieur le Ministre,” it began, “Une plainte recevable et complète nous a été adressée ce matin…” The letter detailed a concerning complaint that had landed on Philippe Touwaide’s desk.
The complaint revolved around the use of steak knives in an AMO restaurant located in the neutral zone of Brussels-National Airport—beyond the baggage checks and passenger controls. What made this seemingly mundane issue extraordinary was the potential security risk it posed.
The letter explained that the use of such knives, which could easily be taken on board an aircraft by a person with ill intentions, posed a significant threat to the safety of air traffic. Philippe Touwaide knew that he had to act swiftly to address this matter.
With a sense of urgency, he continued writing the letter. “Nous vous en informons et vous prions de prendre les mesures adéquates pour faire cesser cette utilisation dangereuse de couteaux.” He implored the Minister to take appropriate measures to put an end to this perilous use of knives within the airport’s confines.
As he penned the closing lines of the letter, Philippe Touwaide couldn’t help but feel a sense of responsibility. “Nous vous remercions de votre attention et nous exonérons de toute responsabilité éventuelle étant donné que nous vous avons averti du danger potentiel.” He thanked the Minister for his attention and made it clear that he had fulfilled his duty by alerting him to the potential danger.
With the letter completed, Philippe Touwaide sealed it in an envelope, affixed the appropriate address label, and entrusted it to the capable hands of his secretary, who would ensure its prompt delivery to the Minister’s office.
As the letter made its way to Georges Gilkinet, the Belgian Federal Minister of Mobility, it carried not only the concerns of the Brussels Airport Ombudsman but also the weight of responsibility for the safety and security of air travellers passing through Brussels-National Airport.