The gradual reopening of Brussels Airport for passenger operations will no doubt trigger the return of belly cargo capacity. This will benefit the air freight biz of Brussels Airlines. However, the question remains if all airlines will go back to the capacity the deployed before the attacks. Delta Airlines, for one, has decided to divert its Atlanta flights to Amsterdam for a year.
Delta will however maintain its New York JFK operation ex Brussels. Rumour will have it that New York is mainly a business travel connection, whereas Atlanta is more tourist-oriented. At the
moment it still remains to be seen if other carriers will follow Delta’s example. The uncertainty in this matter makes it very difficult for the airport to assess the impact of the terrorist
attacks on the eventual cargo volume for this year. Depending on the circumstances, the loss may be anything between 25,000 and 50,000 tonnes, so between 5 and 10% of the normal volume.
Lower seat factor, higher belly capacity
In an interview with Flemish television station VRT, Marc Descheemaecker, Chairman of the Board of Brussels Airport Company has confirmed that the company’s first aim is to restore the operations to 20% of the normal schedules.” Over the next 6 to 8 weeks, we hope to get back to 40 or 50% and, by the start of the summer season, back to the full 100%, he said.
Home carrier Brussels Airlines was the first company allowed getting back into business. As for cargo, VP Global Cargo Alban François has said that the company has never really stopped flying cargo, except for the first days after the attacks. The consignments were trucked form and to other airport such as Frankfurt and Zuerich. “If our customers permit, we will even fly more, as we will be able to offer more capacity due to a lower seat load factor,” he said.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels