Brussels Airlines plans to expand services to India

Tanya Thomas Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2018

Bernard Gustin, CEO, Brussels Airlines

Re-opened Mumbai-Brussels route makes economic sense, says CEO

Brussels Airlines’ newly opened route connecting Mumbai with the European city is “approaching profitability”, Bernard Gustin, CEO, Brussels Airlines, told BusinessLine.

“We’ve expanded frequency from five products a week to six in November for the winter schedule. The closer we come to a daily product, the better it is. We’re commercially viable with an average seat load factor of almost 80 per cent, and we are coming within the profitable region,” he added.

Only Asian destination

On March 30, the airline reopened the non-stop Mumbai-Brussels route after Jet Airways closed it down – it had ended its partnership with the Belgian carrier a year earlier. Gustin said that the re-opening of the route, its only Asian destination at the moment, has made economic sense for the airline. The airline will, in fact, also consider connecting Delhi to Brussels.

“From a market point of view, Delhi is attractive. It is also the hub for our Star Alliance partner, Air India. But it is dangerous for an airline to only add destinations as dots on a map without thinking about the bottomline. Adding a long-haul destination is a significant investment. We need to make sure that Mumbai is an undisputed success before we move on to new destinations.”

In the seven months since the route was launched, Brussels Airlines – part of the Lufthansa group – has carried over 60,000 travellers between the two points.

“About 70 per cent of our passengers go on further to destinations in Europe, North America and Africa,” Gustin added.

“They are starting to see Brussels as a connecting point to Europe.”

For the airline, the route has proved commercially viable because of the traffic between Mumbai and the Belgium – both hubs of trade in diamonds and pharmaceuticals.

While the two products also account for the nature of cargo carried on the route, it is also considering adding ferrying fresh produce to the list.

Brussels Airlines is also in the midst of replacing seven of its fleet of 10 Airbus A330s on its long-haul routes, which will increase the seat capacity by 5-10 per cent.

Next year, the airline wants to offer its Loop programme – a points programme currently available to non-frequent fliers within Europe – to its long-haul customers as well.

Published on November 09, 2017

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