Brussels sees long-haul growth thanks to Jet Airways and US carriers; Aegean and Wind Jet among new carriers for 2009

Image: Brussels airport route launch
Royal Jordanian launched a twice-weekly service from Amman to Brussels last month. Pictured are: Mr Dabbas (CCO of RJ in the back), cutting the ribbon are Mr Sharaf, Vice Chairman RJ and Mr Stroobants, Director Aviation Development, The Brussels Airport Company.

Located just 11 kilometres from the city centre, Brussels Airport at Zaventem serves as the main airport for all the politicians involved in running the European Union. Traffic at the airport has been growing steadily for the last six years though passenger numbers at the airport have yet to reach the peak of 2000 when Sabena, the failed national carrier was in its heyday. Between 1991 and 2000 traffic had grown by 160% as Sabena established a major hub-and-spoke network at the airport. The airline’s ill-fated involvement with Swissair resulted in the airline’s collapse in November 2001.

The airline’s successor, SN Brussels Airlines, merged with local low-cost rival Virgin Express in 2006/07 to create Brussels Airlines which operates a fleet of some 45 aircraft (only half as many as Sabena at its peak). This summer the airline will serve some 57 destinations non-stop from the airport, while several other destinations are served with an intermediate stop.

Chart: Traffic
Source: BRU Trends

As at most major European airports passenger numbers have been down in the first four months of 2009. At present traffic levels are similar to those achieved in 2006. The seasonality profile is typical of many European airports with a peak in July and demand being lowest in December and January.

Chart: Seasonality
Source: BRU Trends

Jet Airways’ European hub

While Brussels Airlines is clearly the airport’s leading airline the next biggest carriers in terms of passenger numbers are primarily charter airlines. Jetairfly (TUI’s Belgium subsidiary) with 12 based aircraft and Thomas Cook Airlines with six based aircraft are the next biggest airlines. Lufthansa ranks fourth (serving seven destinations in Germany and Milan Malpensa with its new Lufthansa Italia subsidiary) while Jet Airways of India ranks fifth.

Jet has created a ‘scissor-hub’ at Brussels with daily flights arriving from India (Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai) and flying across the Atlantic to Newark, New York JFK and Toronto. All routes are operated with 226-seat A330s which are all scheduled to arrive in Brussels at 07:50 in the morning. All six aircraft then depart at just after 10:00 allowing a good two hours for connections between flights to be made. A fourth Indian connection to Bangalore was started at the end of October but was abandoned in mid-January. All of these flights helped Brussels’ ‘Overseas’ traffic to grow by over 25% in 2008.

Aegean, Royal Jordanian and Wind Jet new for summer ’09

Since last summer the airport has gained (and lost) a number of services and seen the arrival of several new carriers including Aegean (serving Athens), Lufthansa Italia (serving Milan Malpensa), Royal Jordanian (serving Amman) and Wind Jet (serving Forli near Bologna).

Gained AMM (Royal Jordanian), AOE (Turkish Airlines), ATH (Aegean), BVC (Jetairfly), FRL (Wind Jet), MXP (Lufthansa Italia), PMO (Brussels Airlines), SAW (Pegasus), SVQ (Brussels Airlines), TXL (Brussels Airlines), VNO (Brussels Airlines)
Lost ARN (Sterling), BGY (Brussels Airlines), BRN (British Airways operated by Sun-Air of Denmark), CAG (Cagliari), CPH (Sterling), EXT (Flybe), FCO (Air One), LJU (Brussels Airlines), MXP (Air One), NDR (Jetairfly), OSL (Sterling), OUD (Jetairfly), THF (Brussels Airlines), VNO (flyLAL), WRO (LOT)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 Jul 2008 and w/c 6 July 2009 and Brussels Airport

While flyLAL and Sterling collapsed, and Air One merged with Alitalia, Brussels Airlines re-directed its Milan Bergamo and Berlin Tempelhof flights to Malpensa and Tegel respectively. The biggest LCC at Brussels is now easyJet which operates daily flights to Berlin Schönefeld, Geneva, Milan Malpensa and Nice. Other LCCs with a presence at the airport include Vueling (three routes to Spain), Aer Lingus (to Dublin), SkyEurope, clickair, Blue Air, Atlas Blue, Wind Jet and MyAir.com.

Apart from Jet Airways other long-haul services are provide by Air Transat (to Montreal), American (to New York JFK and Chicago), Continental (to Newark), Delta (to Atlanta and New York JFK), Hainan Airlines (to Beijing), United (to Washington Dulles) and US Airways (to Philadelphia).

Of the MEB3 airlines only Etihad is currently present with daily flights to Abu Dhabi. Although neither Emirates nor Qatar Airways are currently present at the airport other Middle Eastern carriers such as Egyptair, El Al, Royal Jordanian and Syrian Arab Airlines all serve the Belgian capital.


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