As of March 2017, the Belgian carrier will operate passenger flights linking Brussels and Mumbai five times a week deploying a leased Airbus A330-200. It's the first Asian destination to be served by the Star Alliance member. From the cargo perspective transporting high yield products like pharmaceuticals, IT items and diamonds are of major interest.
Filling a gap
The Belgian carrier's move to add Mumbai to its network comes as no major surprise after Jet Airways gave up flying BOM-BRU last March, leaving a big gap in the sky that Brussels Airlines is determined to take advantage of soon. In a release, the airline speaks of "great traffic potential" in both directions. Their Chief Commercial Officer Lars Redeligx confirms: "The demand for direct flights for passengers as well as for cargo is high. With more than 50,000 travelers per year, Mumbai is the third most important intercontinental destination from Belgium." Lars further points out that Brussels Airlines can offer both passengers and cargo consignments smooth connections to onward destinations served by SN in Europe, Africa or North America. Conversely, so will Star member Air India on the subcontinent or to beyond located destinations in Southeast Asia.
Cargo plays a major role
Asked about the expectations for air freight transports, Cargo VP Alban Francois of Brussels Airlines speaks of a "potential of roughly 9 tons in each direction," making cargo a major contributor to the overall turnover generated by SN on that sector.
Alban points out that his airline offers the full range of cargo products but will primarily focus on high yield goods like pharma and express but also on perishables from BOM to BRU. He also outlines the favorable connectivity offered by SN Cargo and their general sales agent Air Cargo Logistics to shippers and their forwarding clients due to a favorable schedule since the flights will leave Brussels in the morning and return overnight from Mumbai. States Alban: "This enables us to create good connectivity and quick ramp transfers with our outbound and inbound
long-haul flights to and from Africa and North America."
Particularly for pharmaceuticals produced in India and destined to African clinics and health centres where they are urgently needed this might improve the supply of medication for bettering patient care.
BRUCargo welcomes the services
The upcoming pharma air bridge BOM-BRU and beyond is also applauded by Steven Polmans, Brussel Airport's energetic Head of Cargo: "We are pleased with the new service, especially after the departure of Jet Airways earlier this year." Asked by CargoForwarder Global the manager went on to say: "In the past we have been working on good relations with shippers and mainly pharma shippers in India. So a direct air connection is crucial in further developing these relations."
200 new jobs
Overall, Brussels Airlines Cargo targets transporting 150 tons per month both ways. The leased A330 will be the carrier’s 10th Airbus of this production series in their fleet with the SN management still holding back the name of the future lessor.
They are more open when they discuss the employment issue resulting from the Mumbai flights. According to CEO Bernard Gustin, 200 additional jobs at Brussels Airlines will be created due to the route. In addition, the carrier's suppliers will be positively impacted, he emphasizes.
Destination airport in the 20 million-plus Indian Metropolis, the country's trade and financial center is Chhatrapati Shivaji International.