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Update On The Belgian Aviation Scene?  
User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8084 posts, RR: 54
Posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3066 times:

I could probably find this out by having a good surf, but is there anyone on here who knows about what's going on in Belgium in the wake of Sabena's demise? I hear mentions of these odd-named airlines like SN Brussels and DAT. Does Belgium have any homegrown longhaul service? What about Africa? I remember DAT signs at check-in at LHR after Sabena went Tango Uniform (I was flying with a different airline, clever chap) but I've never seen a plane in "DAT" colours - well, only the Sabena-era commuter planes. I know VG / Delsey tried to replace Sabena on service across the pond (JFK, BOS, LAX, right?) but they've gone TU as well.

So, what Belgian airlines currently fly where?


fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3004 times:

x Thomas Cook Airlines (Belgium): offers charter flights accross Europe/Canary Islands/Mediterranean destinations, using A320's

x VLM Airlines: offers flights ex BRU to LCY, ex Antwerp to LCY, Jersey,....? Using an all F50 fleet

x Virgin Express: offering low cost flights to Spain/Portugal/Italy/France/... using a B733/B734 fleet

x Sobelair: if they don't find a partner soon, they fly right into bankruptcy...  Sad SLR offers B733/B734/B763 charter flights to various destinations in close coöperation with the TUI Group

x SN Brussels Airlines (renamed, was DAT before, the regional doughter of Sabena, which offered short haul flights for Sabena). SN Brussels Airlines is our new Belgian flag carrier, offering it's customers full service flights to Europe/America (in codeshare with AA), and Africa. SN has 3 A333's flying to the African destinations, 32? BAe146-200's-ARJ85's-ARJ100's and 3 A319's.

x About VG Airlines (later renamed to Delsey Airlines): this airline was a fiasco from the beginning (offering point to point flights from BRU to America, this could never be succesful). For the LAX flights, Armenian Airlines (in the meantime also bankrupt) bought the biggest parts of the seats.

The only airline which is currently doing good, is Thomas Cook.

Regards
Frederic


User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 3000 times:

If I remember correctly...

Much of Sabena's carcass was taken over by DAT (which previously did some kind of contracting for them - ground services, charters or leases, could be anything - I don't remember).

This then metamorphosed into SN Brussels.
8% of SN is owned by (the residual) Sabena Interservice Center. The rest is owned by various big Belgian banks &c - some of whose directors sit on the board.

The route map is pretty similar, I think. I tried checking http://www.flysn.com/ but there's no mention of what is a codeshare and what isn't - there are zillions of codeshare destinations.

Virgin Express are also effectively based in Brussels. I think VLM have a presence too - they had some kind of incestuous relationship with both Virgin and SN recently.



Cunning linguist
User currently offlineBobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 6
Reply 3, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 2977 times:

Oops. Sabena 690 has it right.  Smile
Serves me right for getting distracted (as ever) halfway through replying to a post.



Cunning linguist
User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8084 posts, RR: 54
Reply 4, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 2963 times:

So SN Brussels airlines flies to Africa with it's own metal but ONLY codeshares across the pond?

Wasn't Sobelair Sabena's charter arm (a la Balair, or British Airtours)? Do they fly scheduled now (and if so, where?); or are their services, like TC Belgium, just charter leisure flights? If Sobelair survived, was it cos they were cut loose a while back, or were they a profitable part of Sabena which, at the time of the bankruptcy, were considered worth saving?

Thanks for the info, it just occurred to me that since SN (the real one) went under I have no idea what's replaced it, although the very public death throes of VG / Delsey was hard to miss (what were they THINKING?!). Keep it coming.



fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineNitro500 From Australia, joined May 2003, 18 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2895 times:

What about TNT Airways - isn't that the largest, albeit cargo, airline in Belgium? Certainly it has grown very quickly and will probably last longer than any other OO- airline operating now. Not that it would be hard!

User currently offlineTca256 From Belgium, joined Dec 1999, 729 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2893 times:

VG Airlines was a real aviation joke but unfortunately a social disaster for the employees ! I still can't understand how its CEO thought he could earn money without a hub to feed its flights to America, the Belgian market is so small !!!!
Moreover, the ticket prices were real robberies compared to LH, AF and even BA on some flights...

I don't even talk about the "cheese sandwich" meals temporarily served on board at their beginning ! LOL  Big grin



User currently offlineNitro500 From Australia, joined May 2003, 18 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2888 times:

Good call tca256, I have been to Belgium many times - and love it. But can a country it's size warrant - or need - an intercontinental airline? KL to the North, LH to the East and AF to the South. I can understand that every country has aspirations to have international airline identity and presence, but with so many options within an hour or two, why not let commercial sense take precedence?

User currently offlineSabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2884 times:

So SN Brussels airlines flies to Africa with it's own metal but ONLY codeshares across the pond?

Indeed. More info on http://www.flySN.com

Wasn't Sobelair Sabena's charter arm

Again correct!

Do they fly scheduled now (and if so, where?)

They started scheduled flights to JNB, using a B763 (OO-IHV), but due to low yields and low load factors, the route will be abandonned ASAP.

There were planns to start scheduled flights to Cairo and Casablanca, no update yet...

If Sobelair survived, was it cos they were cut loose a while back, or were they a profitable part of Sabena which, at the time of the bankruptcy, were considered worth saving?

SLR is already loss making since some years, but after SN's bankruptcy, Aldo Vastapane (a business guru), took it over, and he was going to make SLR 'profitable'. What we see now is that they are flying straight into bankruptcy. The best option would have been a take over by the TUI Group, but they said 'no'. Now, TUI is probably doing what Thomas Cook did with CityBird: let it go bankrupt first, and than fill the gap with own capacity (without having to take over a loss making airline). The biggest part of the SLR travellers are pax booked via the TUI Group, and with TUI having some spare capacity, it's no problem to send some of their planes to BRU to take over the SLR flights.

Regards
Frederic


User currently offlineGKirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 24923 posts, RR: 56
Reply 9, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2845 times:

Are any of the Belgian airlines profitable? I would imagine Thomas Cook are but anyone else...?


When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlineNitro500 From Australia, joined May 2003, 18 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2840 times:

Thomas Cook possibly - though they do have the massive benefit of pooling its euro-wide resources and buying power, so it's perhaps not a 'stand-alone' that can be easily assessed independent of its parentage. TNT, the cargo airline based there, whilst Belgian registered, is Dutch owned and I believe merely uses the geographic cargo HUB position. This reminds me of what a friend said to me around 2 years ago 'why are there Belgian Airlines?'. A bit cruel though a little funny.


User currently offlinePKK From Denmark, joined Apr 2003, 184 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 2758 times:

Ehh.... TNT.....

Let's put it this way. If some parts of the Belgium government gets what they want and bans night flights at BRU. They might as well close BRU national, as one of the airlines keeping them alive is DHL, with around 64 operations daily, 6 days a week. Exactly how many planes DHL has on the OO register, I'm not sure of, but EAT (European Air Transport) DHL's fully owned airline is BRU based.


User currently offlineEstablished02 From Belgium, joined Jan 2002, 536 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (11 years 2 months 3 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 2744 times:

> DHL, with around 64 operations daily, 6 days a week.

PKK, how would you assess DHL's willingness nowadays to maintain a long-term commitment at BRU (in view of the take-over by Deutsche Post, the political and social sensitivity of the night flights, Belgium's high labour costs, recent frictions with the trade unions...)?

We are all aware of some of the "weaknesses" of BRU (weak home carrier, closeness of competing airports, no HST connection, poor rail links...). However, on a positive note, what can we recognise as the strengths and opportunities of BRU? E.g. BRU seems to enjoy the growing trust of various cargo airlines. I believe SQ Cargo and EVA Air Cargo have recently increased their operations at BRU.



User currently offlinePKK From Denmark, joined Apr 2003, 184 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2710 times:

Established02,

whoa, difficult name....

Anyway. In response to your question. And this is my personal opinion. Not an official DHL statement.

Any company in this line of business needs a HUB in this corner of Europe. DHL at BRU, TNT at Liege, UPS at CGN and FedEx at CDG.

BRU has been, and is good to DHL. Even with the new management in DHL, I do not believe that anyone has ever seriously contemplated moving away from BRU. Too costly, too complex, too many implications.

I think that all the Belgian unions have achieved with the latest actions, is to shoot themselves in the foot. Any professional manager, must by now, be asking the question. "do we want to deal with both an unstable political environment and unstable unions?" So now, the considerations are there. They weren't before.

Very sad indeed.

On BRU in general. Well..... I must confess that when I first arrived here. I mean my first flt here. Having been an expat for 10 years.... I was somewhat perplexed that this was THE airport that was the airport to "the capitol" of Europe. Much better now after the C terminal has been closed. But still a long way to go, in terms of over all service.

As you mention, no easy or cheap links to town. Personally I love their system of attempting to make the arriving passenger feel that you don't wait that long for the luggage to arrive, by ALWAYS assigning the luggage carousel furthest away from where you, the passenger enter the luggage hall. Try to notice. You come in via terminal A and your luggage will be on carousel 7 or 8. Terminal B the same. And when C was still open, you were sure your luggage would be at 1 or 2.

But..... I still like BRU. Nice, open, lots of RWY's and plenty of views..... Nice to have an office just under the departure flightpath!!!

PKK


User currently offlineEstablished02 From Belgium, joined Jan 2002, 536 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2687 times:

PKK, thanks for the comments.

> whoa, difficult name....

Oh well, I think most pilots do master the term (when lining up with the runway on final approach).  Smile

By the way, your nickname "PKK" made me think (for a moment) of "the PKK", the somewhat controversial Kurdistan Workers Party.  Big grin


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In the early years of the DHL hub in BRU, DHL used to concentrate all their European flights in BRU. Somebody told me there used to be up to 90 (smaller) aircraft coming in each night at BRU. (This number might be exaggerated.) Then DHL started to gradually decentralise their flight operations away from BRU to other major centers like EMA, CGN and BGY. Can we expect a further decentralisation to take place or is the current network now optimally balanced? Considering the current developments in Eastern Europe, the gravity point in Europe might perhaps gradually move more to the East.

Who is the market leader in Europe among FEDEX, UPS, TNT and DHL?
What is the size of DHL's market share in Europe?

> On BRU in general ... still a long way to go, in terms of over all service.

Is this a matter of further investments (in airport infrastructure) or is this a (Belgian) mentality thing?

Thanks


User currently offlinePKK From Denmark, joined Apr 2003, 184 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 2661 times:

Established02

Yes DHL used to work the "good ol' HUB n' spoke" With BRU HUB being opened in 1986 in almost it's current layout. Bldg 3, as it is known is the original with changes having happened to the sort systems inside over the years. When FedEx left Europe in 1993, DHL took over their HUB at Bldg 2, adjacent to the existing facility. Around the same time, a decision was made to create SUB HUB's. Firstly to alleviate congestion at BRU but also to have more redundancy in the system. From personal experience, was it quite hard to explain to a Copenhagen customer, that the shipment to Malmoe in Sweden (Visible in good weather across the water from CPH) was delayed 24 hrs due to fog in BRU !!.

So, HUB's was opened in CPH, CGN, EMA, NUE, BGY, VIT and ETZ. The Bavarian government later forced the closure of NUE, with flt's being dispersed to BGY and CGN. That was in 1998. Since then there has been talk of a new SEE HUB..... but with change of management etc..... who knows. The word is that the new management are keen on a single HUB. Which of course can't be made in BRU as DHL has committed to it's current level of operations. And to end night ops of 727's by April this year.

Old hands at DHL are at work, I understand, to explain to the new management, that a single HUB is not the vanilla, with the current and future volumes.

That bring us back to market share. DHL holds about 52% of the European Market. Roughly the same worldwide, despite being (so far) a Mickey Mouse operation in the US. To give you an idea, DHL's European Air network carries as much volume around Europe as FedEx, UPS and TNT together every night!

Can see you are based in Belgium. DHL does arrange PR tours of the HUB while it operates. It means a late night, but is quite interesting !!

Your last question...... I suspect you are Belgian, so I won't offend you by stating that Belgian mentality is the issue....... but lack of investment.... isn't it really down to the same thing. The Belgian system...... just look at the state of most of the roads in Belgium..... Some evil minded people say that that's the reason for all the roads in Belgium being illuminated from dusk to dawn and a little longer. Just so you can avoid the potholes.

Cheers
PKK

PS: The Kurdish thing.... not the first time. They are just my initials.. Some who knows my full real name gets allot of fun out of that too!!



User currently offlineEstablished02 From Belgium, joined Jan 2002, 536 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (11 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2635 times:

PKK, thanks again for the input.

> When FedEx left Europe in 1993, DHL took over their HUB at Bldg 2

I remember some article (in the weekly "The Bulletin") on FEDEX's operations at BRU (late eighties) where also plans were drawn to construct their own satellite terminal (at BRUCARGO I believe) with cargo bays for up to 5 DC10's. Too bad these plans did not materialise.

> HUB's was opened in CPH, CGN, EMA, NUE, BGY, VIT and ETZ

I'm surprised that DHL is operating a major station at CGN, which looks so near to BRU. Flight time between BRU and CGN is well under 1 hour.

> The Bavarian government later forced the closure of NUE

I assume this was due to noise / night regulations.

> And to end night ops of 727's by April this year.

What are the plans for the Belgian registered B727's? It seems like they're sitting idle on the BRU ramp. They will be heading for the desert / Spain / Australia / ... ?

> DHL holds about 52% of the European Market. Roughly the same worldwide

I'm surprised that DHL holds that much worldwide, considering the fleet size of FEDEX and UPS, their superhubs at MEM and SDF, their Asian operations,...

> despite being (so far) a Mickey Mouse operation in the US.

That's rather unexpected, considering that Dalsey, Hillblom en Lynn were Americans and started up their door-to-door express service between San Francisco en Honolulu.

> I won't offend you by stating that Belgian mentality is the issue

That would be a sensitive thing indeed, however I do believe that the Belgian mentality is "lacking something" (to say the least). If only the Belgians could inherit a bit more of the merchant spirit of the Dutch!

> roads in Belgium being illuminated from dusk to dawn and a little longer.
> Just so you can avoid the potholes.

I understood that the generous Belgian road illumination was meant to result in greater safety and less traffic accidents. I thought the road quality was rather good in Belgium.



User currently offlinePKK From Denmark, joined Apr 2003, 184 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (11 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 2564 times:

Established02,

Sorry, have been "on the road" for a while.

I'll try to make this short. Afraid we might bore some others on this tread.

Yes, there were plans in BRU to make a huge facility on the "other side" but FedEx moved out, so for DHL it was cheaper to stay and then the Sabena story started.

HUB's in BRU, CGN and ETZ. Is only an example of the capacity needs in this corner of Europe, with no possibility to expand at BRU or CGN. Sound silly yes, but facts of life. Those worried about closure/movement of BRU should maybe pay attention to this fact. Provides for a nice back-up though, as trucking between these 3 facilities can be done within a small timeframe.

Yes, NUE was closed due to noise and the 727's you see in BRU are still operational, but doing day rotations or in for service in BRU. No firm info on what the plans are. Had the opportunity this weekend to have found out, but forgot. I'll try to sniff up some info.

DHL's size, well. Previous management made, in my view, the mistake in insisting that DHL was "crossborder international" therefore, not really interested in the US domestic market. Wonder what they thought the EU common market were?. And Brownie & Fatty was totally focused on the domestic market in the US. As said earlier, only going international in the early to mid 80's. Hence DHL's claim to have invented the international Air Express business, since DHL from the start in '69 were "almost" international. Hawaii to California is not really international, but it involved international shipping, as the first shipments were focused on bills of lading for ships. HKG came on as the first really international destination in the very early 70's.
The majority of the Brownie & Fatty fleets are employed in the US, contrary to DHL's and they both do allot of general freight. DHL only started that a few years ago.

Belgian mentality....... well I don't think you should be to envious on the Dutch. They might appear as merchants, but where I come from, they are renown for falling into the "smart talk trap" quite often. All the right noises, not allot of action.

Roads in Belgium....... Having lived for some time in Eastern Europe too..... I must confess that, in general the Belgian roads are at par with most of those countries. In Russia, they joke about their roads, by saying that they were really only meant to give a general direction.

Word has it that there are two manmade things clearly visible from space. The great wall of China, and..... the street lights in Belgium.

Anyway, Established02, if you wish to have further info/details I think we maybe should take this off-line. Send me a msg via this page if you are interested and we can exchange details.

Cheers
PKK


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