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Future Of Service Between Brussels And Asia  
User currently offlineBrightCedars From Belgium, joined Nov 2004, 1291 posts, RR: 2
Posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 6762 times:

Hello to everyone on my first post!

A decade ago or so there used to be a host or n-weekly services flying between BRU and several Asian destinations (BKK, KUL, NRT, PEK, SEL, SHA, SIN) by the likes of Asiana, China Eastern, Malaysia Airlines, Sabena, Singapore Airlines, Thai, etc. Not to mention the brief joint operation to Macau by Air Portugal & Sabena and the addition of flights by the latter to India before its demise, or charter flights mainly to Thailand.

Nowadays there is nothing or close to nothing, to the mere exception of Biman Bangladesh Airlines' twice weekly classic DC-10 DAC-DXB-BRU-JFK operation (apparently it doesn't stop in DXB on the way back anymore). I don't have any information about that service's freedom rights and eventual BRU O/D passenger figures but I assume it is close to zero.

I was a frequent user of Singapore Airlines' BRU service and was extremely disappointed when they dropped out of the market post 9/11 (or was it SARS), at a time when competition had already clearly narrowed down and despite continuous service during the Asian financial crisis.

In the past weeks I read in the forum that there would be negotiations between BRU (BIAC) and SN Brussels Airlines on one side and Asian carriers on the other side to (re)open one or more eastbound routes. Are there any more precise details on what the destinations and the operators would be?

And also, now that the airport is in new hands, do you think that there will be a different dynamic for the BRU-Asia market?

I want the European Union flag on airliners.net!
21 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineBeaucaire From Syria, joined Sep 2003, 5252 posts, RR: 23
Reply 1, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 6694 times:

I am convinced the new australian owner of Brussels airport has distinct plans to maximize his investment.Acquiring an airport requires extensive strategic planning and the aussie's would not place 700M euros on sand without having certain assurances their investment will yield.
I flow some times ago BRU-SIN-SYD and the flights were well booked-also in C class.MH are certainly an option for future growth in conjunction with China South .And EK should defenitely have rather sooner than later an eye on Zaventem, before Ethijad or Qatari do so...

Please respect animals - don't eat them...
User currently offlineBrightCedars From Belgium, joined Nov 2004, 1291 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 6666 times:

Service with the Near and Middle East should be a topic of its own. Where are MEA Middle East Airlines (Lebanon)">ME and RJ? Why RB BRU-BEY? Why so little MS?

I'm flying to DXB around Easter time and having to choose between either F70 pendeldienst by KL or TGV navette by AF (pendel and navette are Dutch and French words for shuttle), not that I have better options when flying to BEY, my regular family destination from BRU.

Indeed EK service would be a good option, with the many cities that you can connect to from DXB, but it'll never be like flying straight to Asia.

I'd rather enjoy having both options and the consequent competition and lower prices (although good for the consumer side of my person but not for the aviation fan side of lower yields).

I want the European Union flag on airliners.net!
User currently offlineSAA-SAL From Belgium, joined Nov 2000, 356 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6642 times:

The big problem of attracting an Asian airline, or any intercontinental airline to BRU is the ease of access to CDG. Only about 1h15mins are necessary between Brussels Midi train station and CDG airport. Everyday there are literally hundreds of Belgians transitting through CDG, mostly on their way to Asia.
This is all the transfer traffic that BRU loses. Now if we add Belgians transitting through AMS, LHR and FRA as well...

Trasfer Pax figures are still only about a third of what they were before Sabena's demise. And these figures are not increasing at all!. I figure over 90% of the actual Pax growth at BRU is O/D.

SAA B747 SP, Luxavia B747 SP
User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4591 posts, RR: 70
Reply 4, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6629 times:

I'm afraid Brussels' role in offering longhaul flights, particularly to the Far East, is limited. The limited local market combined with the sheer proximity of BRU to mega hubs CDG, FRA, AMS and LHR makes that BRU is not an interesting airport for the big Asian airlines.

Add to that the fact that most of the major players are more or less tied up with a European major and its respective home airport (TG and OZ with LH at FRA/MUC, MH with KL at AMS, KE with AF at CDG etc.), and it's highly unlikely that you'll see one of these airlines opening flights into BRU, as it's much more cost effective to fly into a neighboring hub airport and connect passengers onto and interline flight operated by the partner airline.

This being said, some of the largest O&D gaps (city pairs where no direct or non-stop service is offered) at BRU are currently situated in the Far East, with BKK, HKG, NRT and SIN in that order. However, it is unlikely that, even with a limited market existing, BRU would be able to sustain such a longhaul flight on its own. So, the best the airport could hope for at this moment, would be if the likes of MH or TG would open a flight to BRU in combination with another secondary European airport.

Personally, however, I believe that a much more viable option would be one of the Middle Eastern airlines, be it EK, GF or QR, operating a BRU-Middle East flight, opening up a plethora of connections to Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and even Africa. That would finally offer the BRU-originating passenger an alternative to the traditional options of BA via LHR, LH via FRA, or AF-KL via CDG-AMS by train.

User currently offlineBrightCedars From Belgium, joined Nov 2004, 1291 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6600 times:

Sounds to me like a better option would be to base a couple long distance pieces of metal (no debate on the metal itself) at BRU to serve those cities that were mentioned (the likes of BKK, HKG, PEK, OSA, SEL, SHA, SIN, TYO), eventually pairing some of the cities - at least in the early stage - and interlining with a destination home carrier.

If they won't spoke out of BRU maybe you can feed thru BRU.

Any thoughts on this?

I want the European Union flag on airliners.net!
User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4591 posts, RR: 70
Reply 6, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 6586 times:

That would almost have to be SN then... And which market would they pick? Going for all of the markets you mentioned above might be an expensive affair, given the fact that one has to maintain at least 5 weekly services in order to offer some kind of a viable alternative to the high yield business passenger. I doubt that SN is in the position of making these kinds of commitments (including the acquisition of new wide body equipment for Far Eastern operations) at this point in time.

So what remains is SN seeking cooperation with one of the majors and trying to attract a longhaul operation into BRU by offering its dense European network. Given that, of all the global alliances, SN the closest to OneWorld, that would one leave CX as a candidate. But with already very extensive operations in place at LHR, I really don't see a reason for CX to open a new station at BRU, for sure not given their recent closure of ZRH and downscaling of AMS.

I remain convinced that the best option for BRU would be a Middle Eastern carrier, with extensive connectivity through its home base. EK would be optimal, but everyone seems to be begging that airline for a service these days, so my money is on QR.

User currently offlineBehramjee From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 5199 posts, RR: 47
Reply 7, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 6564 times:

Personally, I feel Emirates is the perfect carrier out of Asia to serve BRU on a daily basis with a 3 class A 330-200.

Why? Because via DXB, every single major Asian city except for NRT-Tokyo is flown to nonstop on a daily or multiple daily basis thus providing VFR/EU politicians and other diplomats based in Asia and East-Southern Africa an excellent method of flying conveniently to and from Asia via DUBAI.

Another airline that I feel can do well from BRU is THAI AIRWAYS because of sizeable O&D traffic (leisure and pax) but also via BKK every SE Asian major and secondary city is flown to by TG nonstop from BKK on a daily or multiple daily basis (including 4-5 each Chinese-Japanese cities). For TG, a 4 weekly MD11 for the time being would be just fine.

User currently offlineSn26567 From Belgium, joined Aug 2004, 131 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (11 years 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 6529 times:

Precisely, speaking of TG, there were rumours in the past that they could open a BKK-GVA-BRU route, which is exactly what HB-IBC suggests when he mentions that the best option for an Asian carrier would be to open a route to two secondary airports in Europe.

Any news of that project?

ex-Sabena #26567
User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4591 posts, RR: 70
Reply 9, posted (11 years 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 6380 times:

Any news of that project?

TG is infamous for sending out signals of all kinds of 'new projects', after which, very often, nothing is ever heard about them again. This BKK-GVA-BRU flight is likely to fit in the same category. TG came up with the idea, when they closed down their BKK-ZRH-GVA flight earlier this year after just a year or so of operation. Nothing has been heard of it ever since...

User currently offlineBeaucaire From Syria, joined Sep 2003, 5252 posts, RR: 23
Reply 10, posted (11 years 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 6301 times:

It is in my opinion a good investment by the aussie's - BRU will ultimately become attractive since slots are getting rare in AMS,CDG,FRA and LHR. certain times in CDG the time to lift off is 30-40 minutes after bush-back.
Brussels will certainly get asian carriers-without that in mind the Australian investors would not have cooked their business-plan. Infrastructure in BRU is great - just the highway access sucks on certain times of the day...
Sabena-Brussels should team up with MH,EK,China South,Primaris and Swiss and make a new alliance....

Please respect animals - don't eat them...
User currently offlineSanthosh From India, joined Sep 2001, 548 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (11 years 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 6251 times:

Sabena used to have flights to India some time ago to BOM and MAA. But why doesn't SN Brussels Airlines have any intensions to continue flying in the same routes. Or is it not profitable flying to India or are there some other reasons behind it, also are there any carriers currently linking between India and BRU?


Happy Landings :)
User currently offlineHB-IWC From Indonesia, joined Sep 2000, 4591 posts, RR: 70
Reply 12, posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 6212 times:

SABENA operated into MAA thrice weekly between November 1999 and ended the service with its demise in November 2001. Flights were reasonably successful although rather low-yield. Flights to Bombay stopped in the early 90s, after BOM had been part of SN's classic milkruns to the Far East for quite some years (typical routings BRU-ATH-BOM-BKK-KUL-SIN).

As of today, there is no airline plying a BRU-India route, with the last airline to operate such a service being Biman, who made a stop in DEL enroute to BRU and JFK (BG009/010 DAC-DEL-BRU-JFK). That stop has since been eliminated.

User currently offlineSanthosh From India, joined Sep 2001, 548 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 6175 times:

HB-IWC Sir Any idea why Biman chose to go transatlantic via Brussels from DAC? Is it because slots are too costly at Heathrow and Frankfurt for them. Or they just went for a change while most of the other carriers from Asia try to go via Frankfurt Heathrow etc…


Happy Landings :)
User currently offlineAeroWesty From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 20822 posts, RR: 61
Reply 14, posted (11 years 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 6175 times:

I've always been curious about the state of BRU, since it seems so relatively underserved by major airlines, even though the city hosts the headquarters of both the EU and NATO, as well as being the capital city of a former colonial empire. The only time I've been through it was to get to/from Amsterdam using an AAdvantage award, since AA doesn't service AMS. It seemed a nice enough airport, and even had free samples of freshly-made Godiva chocolates in the duty-free shopping area!

I've also noticed in prior years a number of low-cost intercontinental flights advertised on sandwich boards outside travel agencies in Holland specifically stated the fare was via Brussels. (This may not be currently the case, but I've not been back to the Netherlands in a few years.)

Even before Sabena's collapse, BRU just didn't seem to gain the same utilization of other airports in their catchment area, such as AMS or CDG. I would think between their prime location, large catchment of Belgium, southern Holland, and parts of northern France, and western Germany, plus the potential as a connection airport, and the obvious premium O/D traffic it receives, BRU *should* have been teaming with activity, but the place was dead on both business days during the time trans-Atlantic flights normally arrive/depart. The train service between BRU and Centraal Station in downtown Amsterdam was convenient, swift, reasonably priced, and comfortable. If I were to be traveling where a choice of BRU or CDG was six of one, half-dozen of the other, the choice for me would definitely be BRU after my experiences connecting at CDG.

Is there something I'm missing in the economic viability or location of BRU that never made it the premier airport in terms of traffic that I have assumed it should be?

Thanks in advance for your input,

AeroWesty  Smile

International Homo of Mystery
User currently offlineSNBA From France, joined Oct 2004, 203 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (11 years 2 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6030 times:

SN Brussels Airlines serving new destinations in Asia (such Tokyo, Bangkok, Beijing...) and to the Middle East (Dubai...) would be fine...

User currently offlineLj From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4705 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (11 years 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 5945 times:

Any idea why Biman chose to go transatlantic via Brussels from DAC?

They were ousted from AMS (their previous stop to/from JFK) after they ran into problems with the airport (can't recall the exact issues but it had something to do with their safety record at the time if I'm correct). Moreover, they weren't much liked in The Netherlands (at one point all travel agents boycotted BG due to their "famous" overbooking and no compensation policy) and KLM helped them to go away by opening up a flight to Dhaka (only to close it down when BG disappeared from the route) and thus making AMS-DAC less profitable for BG (if one had to choose between BG or KL the choice was not difficult). Needless to say BRU was the best alternative with the added bonus serving the Dutch market to/from DAC because there appears to be a market between The Netherlands and Bangladesh (probably due to "water mangement").

User currently offlinePlanemannyc From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 1015 posts, RR: 7
Reply 17, posted (11 years 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5933 times:
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Any idea why Biman chose to go transatlantic via Brussels from DAC?

KLM and Biman had a dispute. KLM had just started the three weekly B743 KLM-DXB-DAC service and wanted to have the ground handling at DAC be done by someone other than Biman -- Biman has a monopoly for ground handing for international flights at Zia Airport. Biman refused, and at the urging of KLM, the Dutch government withdrew the fifth freedom rights for Biman at AMS to flights to the US. Things escalated and the two countries then withdrew their bilaterals altogether.

In all honesty, Biman was happier to see the route go. With a great coverage of the UK, KLM was stealing passengers from Biman's European prime routes to LHR. KLMuk was doing it's job of siphoning passengers from Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh who would typically fly on Biman. I have heard that the flights were so successful for KLM that they were considering a daily flight to DAC. But after the skirmish with BG, they withdrew from the nascent market altogether, and BG re-routed its flights through BRU, although they had far fewer passengers to BRU and between BRU and JFK. BG used to capitalize on the Dutch market for AMS-JFK (was the cheapest airline on the route) and also AMS-KTM/BKK/YGN/BKK via DAC. AMS used to be, for a long time, the only other terminal BG flights used to have in Europe (the other was obiviously LHR) - so when BG started transatlantic service, having no rights on LHR-JFK, AMS was the natural choice. BRU was a choice by default.

Hope this explains things a little bit.


Wasim / Planemannyc

[Edited 2004-11-16 00:45:05]

User currently offlineAirbusCanada From Canada, joined Nov 2004, 428 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (11 years 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5876 times:

KLM's Dhaka-Dubai-Amsterdam route was also stealing biman's market share form its Dubai-Dhaka route.
KLM was offering cheapest price on NorthAmerica-Dhaka route and Due to it's extensive north American coverage it was able to steal a big market share form Biman/British airways.

During that period, my family members flew YVR-AMS-DXB-DAC route quite a few times.

Does anyone know if the New AF-KLM interested in serving Dhaka either from CDG or AMS.

There is also some rumors about Virgin in interested in LHR-DXB-DAC route, is there any truth to that?

User currently offlineBrightCedars From Belgium, joined Nov 2004, 1291 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (11 years 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 5814 times:

Please feel all free to open up new topics when interesting subjects arise.

I want the European Union flag on airliners.net!
User currently offlinePlanemannyc From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 1015 posts, RR: 7
Reply 20, posted (11 years 2 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 5790 times:
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AirbusCanada, you are absolutely right. KLM did dent Biman's DAC-DXB market as well as get passengers from the North American market, thanks to their tie-up with Northwest. Biman, lacking any partnerships in the US, has difficulty marketing to Bangladeshis living outside of the New York area.

I did hear of rumors that VS is interested in LGW-DXB-DAC only because their planned flights to DXB would have the aircraft sitting on the ground for 10 hours -- and DAC would be a good market as there is still a supply shortage on the DAC-DXB route. However, I have also heard that VS seems to favor opening flights to BOM over the DXB route now. Anyway, this is all hearsay --it was discussed in an earlier post, and I have not read anything even close to official anywhere.

Going back to BRU, I would have thought that SN Brussels would be able to capitalize on trafficing the growing Asia-Africa traffic with connection at BRU. Then again, it does not seem to be the obvious choice in the minds of many as prejudices probably make people think of connecting in London for Anglophone Africa, and Paris for Francophone Africa.


Wasim / Planemannyc

User currently offlineChiguire From Venezuela, joined Sep 2004, 2005 posts, RR: 15
Reply 21, posted (11 years 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 5746 times:

It was one of the biggest Sabena-mistakes trying to compete with the big boys from around Belgium. They had no chance to establish BRU as a Hub. All other atempts from City Bird and VG Airlines/Delsey to start longhaul failed as well. The Market in Belgium for such flights is simply too small. AMS is close in the North and the Thalys connection to Paris is perfect.
SN is now focusing on the high-yield market on their African routes operated by those "Birdy" A330, the medium range flights with high yield and local demand as well as on the European routes. That´s the market that need to be covered from BRU. Nothing less, nothing more.
If there is an Asian carrier using BRU as a point to fly to the US (such as Biman), good. But I really doubt that there will be any other longhaul flights in a near future. And I hope SN stays what it is: a nice little airline with good service making profit.

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