The Belgian carrier decided to lease two additional A330 aircraft, bringing the total number of long-haul jetliners to ten in 2016. New transatlantic services and higher frequencies on some African routes, Brussels Airlines’ traditional key market, are the consequence of this fleet growth. The carrier’s cargo business is expected to greatly benefit from this decision.
As a first and major result of the announced fleet expansion, the carrier intends launching Toronto flights beginning next April. This route, which will be serviced five times each week, became
highly attractive to the SN managers after India’s Jet Airways decided to give up their BRU-YYZ services.
Star joins forces on the North Atlantic
Jet’s exit further stimulates Brussels Airlines and their Star Alliance partners United and Air Canada to join forces and offer the market a transatlantic Joint Venture out of Brussels. As stated in a release, “Air Canada will commercialize the new Brussels Airlines Brussels-Toronto flights as a codeshare partner and United will increase its existing flight offer to Newark from next year by operating a second daily flight out of Brussels, which Brussels Airlines will add to its offer as a codeshare destination.”
Bernard Gustin, Brussels Airlines CEO comments: “We are responding to the needs of our customers on both sides of the Atlantic with a second daily service next summer between Brussels and New York. These flights will provide Belgian travelers with more schedule options to New York and – via our Newark Liberty hub – to hundreds of destinations throughout the Americas.”
Parallel to its Toronto service, Brussels Airlines will up their seasonal Washington flights from formerly five per week to six during the 2016 summer schedule.
Swap of aircraft supports cargo growth
The upcoming Toronto flights will be operated with one of the carrier’s existing A330s that is currently serving SN’s African network. The aircraft will be replaced by the first of the two leased A330s that will soon join the fleet.
This swap of planes is good news for the carrier’s cargo product, emphasizes the company’s spokesperson Wencke Lemmes. This, because the new A330-300 can accommodate more cargo due to its high takeoff weight of 235 metric tons. In contrast, their sister models are certified for a lower takeoff weight, thus limiting cargo volumes on routes with high passenger demand. Wencke explains that: “On some African routes we occasionally have to turn back shipments to prevent the overloading of our aircraft.” This is caused by the masses of passenger luggage that fill most of the aircraft’s lower deck compartments. “Once we operate the new A330-300 we can substantially up our tonnage at places like Kinshasa, Luanda and Duala,” Wencke states. “This is fully in line with our strategy to push ahead with our cargo business.”
A further result of the upcoming fleet expansion are extra flights to Kigali, Rwanda and Entebbe, Uganda which will be added to the network.
Whether the second A330 will be an A330-300 or A-200 is yet undecided. According to Wencke, the plane will join the carrier’s fleet in November of 2016.
In addition to this, Brussels Airlines confirms plans to add the Indian economic hotspot Mumbai to its network. “Together with our Star Alliance partner Air India we are analyzing the opening of a route to Mumbai,” confirms the carrier.