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Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa  
User currently offlinePressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5
Posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3670 times:

Hi guys,

Just returned home after participating in the inaugural BRU-FIH (Kinshasa) flight of SN Brussels Airlines. It was an amazing experience with a real warm welcome back for the Airbus 330 in Kinshasa. After a flight of 6241 km and almost 7 hrs captain Vuylsteke and f/o Benno Beenders landed the Airbus 330-300 (Birdy operated) around 19 h local time at N Djili airport.

On board we were with 33 pax in C and 98 in Y. Most of the C PAX were VIP's (deputy prime minister Michel, the President and the new CEO and the management of SN Brussels, the management of Birdy, Congolese ambassador in Brussels, most important travel agents) and also a press delegation in Y class (tv, newspapers, wire agencies, foreign newspapers).

The welcoming in N'Djili was impressive: music, ballet, shouts of joy in the African way. Surprising was a litte fanfare orchestra that played a popular flemish song (K3's Van Africa tot in America). Their african interpretation was funny.

The Congolese authorities were very happy with the return of a Belgian airline. Also the Belgian expats and many Congolese travellers and businessmen are satisfied. After Sabena's collapse they had to travel via Air France, Cameroon Airlines or Ethipian (long, long travel hours).

The Airbus 330-300 is in the old Sabena configuration and still many Sabena 'elements' are present in the aircraft: glasses, curtains, seats with the logo, refreshing towels with the Sabena logo, plastic bags, ...). On the inflight entertainment system it was already SN Brussels Airlines logo and a special created africa logo (Giraffe). In the beginning of the flight some promofilms of investors (Fortis Bank, Walloon region, Brussels region, ...) are showed.

Pax in C Class had a choice of 3 hot meals, Y class had a meat or fish choice. Also snacks and breakfast ofcourse and icecreams.

Unfortunatelly the Airbus 330-300 is not equipped with individual tv screens for the y class pax (only with some general screens in the cabin and almost 10 audio channels) so the y class ius not really up to date but i must say that the service was correct, very friendly and better than duirng the Sabena years. In stead off an inflight magazine a specially print SN Brussels airlines newspaper was offered.

SN Brussels has hired 105 old Sabena employees to make this operation possible in Congo. As there is no infrastructure they have to organize the whole handling themselves (stairs, water, claining, fuel, push-back, ...). the check-in is done with laptop computers and the whole check-in facility moves after every flight to a secured location to avoid theft... Every flight almost 40 INADS try to board the flight with false pasports, visa, ... so lots of work for the check-in people coz many of the local authorities are very corrupt. You can't believe it when you see it. Every flight people who check-in become 'other people' at the boarding...

SN Brussels hopes to welcome 200.000 pax this year for the African routes. Friday they had already 45000 reservations: almost 50 pct are made in Africa, 25 pct in Belgium. The figures are encouraging and they will already operate in summertime extra feeder flights to and from Paris CDG ... For the moment they offer lots of incentives (extra lugage allowance, tickets in Y class for 800 euro, triple miles) for clients.

'Tintin in Congo' Pressclub 'Kuifje in Afrika'

















41 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLMML 14/32 From Malta, joined Jan 2001, 2565 posts, RR: 6
Reply 1, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3539 times:

Pressclub: what a great job you have. Enjoy it, and thanks for keeping us up to date.

User currently offlineFly-K From Germany, joined May 2000, 3162 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3533 times:
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Just today there was a big article in WSJ Europe about AF and SN in Central Africa, esp. Kinshasa. It describes all the particularities of the place, but at least the local SN manager seemed enthusiastic.

Konstantin



Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
User currently offlineGaut From Belgium, joined Dec 2001, 344 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3522 times:

Hello Tintin,

Happy to see that kind of welcome.

Out of topic but...
Did you speak with Rob Kuypers? Do you have any information about the future american partner. According to "l'écho" Rob Kuypers will announce a partnership in 2 or 3 weeks.

Gaut



«Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.»
User currently offlineSab12 From Belgium, joined Sep 2001, 96 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3519 times:

Rob Kuypers told the employees that 'big news' would come beginning of june

User currently offlineGaut From Belgium, joined Dec 2001, 344 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 3521 times:

Sorry for the question Pressclub, I didn't see your topic about the american partner....

Gaut



«Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.»
User currently offlineSabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3484 times:

Hello Pressclub,

Nice to see you back in Belgium after your unforgettable experience  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

The welcoming in N'Djili was impressive: music, ballet, shouts of joy in the African way.

I recorded the news on VRT and VTM, watched it some times, but did not see you. Maybe you were already dancing with some African ladies Big grin

The Congolese authorities were very happy with the return of a Belgian airline. Also the Belgian expats and many Congolese travellers and businessmen are satisfied.

Yes, unbelieveble, you had to see them on TV, never saw something like that...

The Airbus 330-300 is in the old Sabena configuration and still many Sabena 'elements' are present in the aircraft: glasses, curtains, seats with the logo, refreshing towels with the Sabena logo, plastic bags, ...).

Yes, I saw this in a picture of 'Luchtzak' here that lot's of things haven't changed.


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Unfortunatelly the Airbus 330-300 is not equipped with individual tv screens for the y class pax (only with some general screens in the cabin and almost 10 audio channels) so the y class ius not really up to date

Yes, it surprised me too when I saw the interior of the aircraft on VTM. But I think it is still better than the Lockheed Tristars of Hewa Bora and the B762's of LAC Big grin

Nice report  Smile

Regards,
Frederic


User currently offlineSAS23 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 3462 times:

Unfortunately, with loads like that described - especially with most of those pax flying for free - it looks like this operation might not last too long. What happened to the reported 100% bookings?

The B762s of LAC are no longer around - Air Zim has cancelled their contract as, surprise surprise, LAC failed to pay a single cent of their lease payments! I'm sure that Victor Hasson could have told them that - they did the same thing to CityBird! Big grin Big grin Big grin


User currently offlineSwake From Belgium, joined Jan 2001, 231 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3444 times:

Konstantin

was this article on the net? If so, care to post the link? Tnx!

Swake


User currently offlineAirDD From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 375 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3418 times:


Pressclub,

Do you have any insight when this route will be profitable for SN ?

There is quite a lot of competion now at KIN and the Congo is economically wiped out ...



User currently offlineEstablished02 From Belgium, joined Jan 2002, 536 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3411 times:

> What happened to the reported 100% bookings?

I don't know.

Regarding the first flight from FIH to BRU: the VRT news reported that an amount of empty seats on this flight was due to the fact that many Africans had not been able to get their visa on time!?

Established02


User currently offlineScottb From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 6826 posts, RR: 32
Reply 11, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3411 times:

I was kind of curious about the economics as well; given the way the Kinshasa end was described, I can't imagine that the Congolese suppliers of fuel, services, etc. would be willing to accept payment in anything other than hard, convertible (i.e. not Congolese) currency. By the same token, are those heavy bookings from Congo being paid in euros or dollars or in Congolese currency? If it's the latter, how difficult is it to repatriate those funds? And how are the bookings for fares which are not deeply discounted (by my math, an 800 euro return fare barely covers costs)?

User currently offlinePressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5
Reply 12, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3406 times:

Here some answers to all your questions. I only answer the question that are intellectual correct and without prejudice. Sorry, SAS-Ceilidh

x the first return flight was almost fully booked, the second was not. They have in Congo already 4.500 prebookings for the flights and the rep is very optimistic. United Nations and other big companies... use SN Brussels again for their Congo travel.

x the African network must be profitable before the fall. Thanks to the normal yield projections for BRU-FIH they need on these route an occup of less than 60 pct to be profitable. A 'normal' ticket costs from july on 1100 or 1200 dollar





User currently offlineJonPaulGeoRngo From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3397 times:

The Wall Street story appeared in the U.S. edition as well. Unfortunately, you will have to go to the library or bookstore as the WSJ is a pay website.

Some highlights though...

-Air France became profitable on its services to Kinshasa after only three months.

-Air France is undercutting SN-Brussels' route by offering Belgian travelers a great deal by transiting CDG via high speed train from Brussels.

-SN Brussels acquired SN's old assets in Kinshasa - which included a flight kitchen. Air France has to fly in outbound meals on its inbound services from France.

-Air France A340 cargo belly returns empty to Paris as they have decided that the security risk is too great to ship cargo to Europe.

-Air France flies any overnighting crews onward to Libreville, Gabon for their personal safety.


User currently offlinePressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5
Reply 14, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3397 times:

Gaut,

We spoke with Kuypers all the time as we were all the time together: in the aircraft, in the hotel, during the festivities and visits. It was a very open dialogue. We were all surprised about that. Also the new CEO Peter Davies was on the trip.





User currently offlinePressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3388 times:

I could compare AF and SN BA in Kinshasa. Funny thing is that the AF office is located in Sabena's hotel Memling. So you can say in the former Sabena headquarters of Kinshasa. The receiver tries to sell the Memling now. But it's strange to see the AF office in this well known Belgian hotel. I think AF made a good choice by doing this. SN BA has an own town office some hundreds of meters away from the Memling. Ten reservation agents were busy there when we visited the office monday morning. And i saw many clients waiting.

AF offers only 2 flights a week and has many operational problems on the route because they use African companies for their handling and these companies don't have the right infrastructure. You really don't believe what you see in this country. SN BA is doing all the handling themselves and this with a lots of experience. they will offer 5 flights a week. SN BA has internatonal cargo partner for the cargo FIH-BRU. They had 4 ton on the first flight back to BRU and is doing the safety and security work.

SN BA will in total offer 11 african destinations. AF is doing better but they are only competitors on 6 destinations. For example Monrovia and Banjul are not offered by AF. SN BA combines always an African AF destination with a non AF African destination to spread te commercial risk.





User currently offlineEstablished02 From Belgium, joined Jan 2002, 536 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3357 times:

> Just today there was a big article in WSJ Europe about AF and SN in Central Africa

Very interesting and detailed article, indeed! The Belgian newspapers certainly did not report on the African situation to the extent that the WSJ did with this article.

Kinshasa Proves a Boon for Air France

High-Paying Fliers, Colonial Ties and Few Rivals Help Carrier Turn a Profit



Perhaps Pressclub can confirm if WSJ journalist Daniel Michaels was on this inaugural flight as well, because he reported in detail about the SNBA operations to FIH as well.

> We spoke with Kuypers

Is he able to speak French with the Wallonian journalists?
I hope they don't mind if he would not be able to.

By the way, I read somewhere (or was it here?) that recently Rob Kuijpers participated to the World Championships of Tennis for seniors. Amazing!!!

Established02



User currently offlinePressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5
Reply 17, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 3346 times:

R. Kuypers lives in the french speaking part of Belgium. His french is ok.

Why you always mention the WSJ? Is my info not good/correct enough?Don't you believe that belgian journalists work as good as Americans?


User currently offlineSwake From Belgium, joined Jan 2001, 231 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3310 times:

JonPaulGeoRngo & Established02, tnx!
Pressclub, turn your heater off. The WSJ has widely international coverage and can be considered an unbiased source in this respect.
Could be me but aren't your comments just a tingy bit in favour of SNBA?



User currently offlineEstablished02 From Belgium, joined Jan 2002, 536 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3305 times:

> Why you always mention the WSJ?

Euh... me? Always?

> Is my info not good/correct enough?

Cheer up, Pressclub! No need to take this personal. I think it's obvious that we all appreciate very much your input on A.net.

> Don't you believe that belgian journalists work as good as Americans?

Sure, why not?

After having read the coverage of this issue by De Standaard, the Financieel Economische Tijd, Le Soir, La Libre Belgique and the Gazet van Antwerpen, I thought the article in today's Wall Street Journal was quite remarkable. That's all.

Kind regards,

Established02


User currently offlinePressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (12 years 8 months 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3285 times:

swake: this is incorrect. I am not pro or contra: i just do my job. It's in my own interest to do so.


User currently offlineSabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (12 years 8 months 23 hours ago) and read 3258 times:

Hello,

I just saw that SNBA is operating the BRU-CDG flight at the moment with an AVRO RJ-85.

Weren't they going to use one special Avro (an AR1) for these flights? I think that the reason is that these flights are almost empty at the moment...

I know that they are going to sell less seats than available. Are they going to change sth on the seat configuration for these flights?

I heard that they will add this summer three flights, to have in total 4 flights a day to CDG. Maybe they will take out some seats of one AR1 so that they can use this type especially on the BRU-CDG flights. And less seats is less weight is more luggage that the pax can take. I can imagine me that if 60 pax take 40 kilos of luggage, that the jumbolinos of SNBA will not come of the ground in time.

How many seats will they sell on this flights? Maybe 50 in an AR1?

What do you think guys?

Regards,
Frederic


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User currently offlineAFa340-300E From France, joined May 1999, 2084 posts, RR: 26
Reply 22, posted (12 years 8 months 23 hours ago) and read 3254 times:

Hello,

Interesting reports!

PressClub, what journal/magazine do you work for?



Just for the record; Air France commenced non-stop CDG-FIH flights on 08 January 2002. This was following the discontinuation of the CDG-DFW flights on 07 January.

AF898 CDG-FIH 11:00 18:40 Duration: 07:40 – Tuesday and Thursday
AF899 FIH-CDG 22:30 06:15 Duration: 07:45 – Tuesday and Thursday



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Best regards,
Alain Mengus
ATB - Air France & Concorde


User currently offlineSAS23 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (12 years 8 months 22 hours ago) and read 3253 times:

Pressclub - I hope your professional reporting is rather more accurate than what you have written here, otherwise you'll be looking for another job shortly (unless of course you work for the tabloid press  Big grin )

How on earth can you describe an A330 as "almost fully booked" when there were just 102 pax on board according to your original report ("33 pax in C and 98 in Y") - the vast majority of whom would have been travelling free on duty or as guests of SNBA.

Whilst the normal, full Y fares are indeed around US$1,200 the reality is that SNBA is offering deeply discounted fares in an attempt to attract passengers away from competitors (especially AF and Hewa Bora) and therefore they are getting themselves back into the same situation that Sabena had where things looked good on paper but the reality - in terms of cash in the bank - was very different. These low yields push the breakeven levels up to 80, 90% or beyond.

Still, it's early days yet. Whilst they might show an operating profit during the peak summer season and again at Christmas, it's the other 10 months of the year that they need to worry about.


User currently offlinePressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5
Reply 24, posted (12 years 8 months 21 hours ago) and read 3237 times:

Ceilidh,

I hope you can read? I worte that the RETURN flight was almost fully booked. Please read again what i have written.




25 Pressclub : Hi SN 690, According to what the management told us, they will offer 2 flights a day to CDG. It will be operated with the Avro 100 soon. the second fl
26 Ly334 : Hi Pressclub, Tell me will SNBA start flying to middle east destinations in the near future, is there any talks about it? Please keep us informed. Tha
27 Pressclub : As far as i know, no Middle East destinations soon. Maybe later on Tel Aviv (rather big market Belgium/Europe with Israel and El Al was a partner of S
28 Luchtzak : @ SAS23 Reading your topics, it came to my idea that you really need some knowledge about African people. They have to see our Airbus330's coming befo
29 Pressclub : Luchtzak, SAS is our old friend Ceilidh. He just uses a new nickname. His only purpose is bashing the Belgian aviation industry. what he wrote about m
30 Luchtzak : @ Pressclub hard times, hard times.... just like a 'kakkerlak' you just can't get rid off... kind regards luchtzak
31 Pressclub : luchtzak, your colleagues cabin attendants were confronted with many kakkerlaks in FIH. Poor girls. We had a lot of fun with the cabin crew. For one o
32 Post contains images Sabena 690 : I hope your professional reporting is rather more accurate than what you have written here, otherwise you'll be looking for another job shortly (unles
33 Post contains images Luchtzak : Pressclub, I know, my girlfriend came back today from CKY after leaving me for 5 days
34 Post contains images SAS23 : Pressclub - fair enough, I see that you did indeed write 'return flight'. I confused that with return as in "return to Kinshasa". Of course, one of th
35 Luchtzak : @ SAS23 that's why your age is set at 26-35 ? and I'm CEO, managing director, webmaster and operating manager of my own website!! Seems that everybody
36 Sabena 690 : Ceilidh, We all know that you know a lot of the aviation business. But why is it so difficult for you to write it down in a less arrogant way like you
37 Pressclub : guys, Please respect the topic !!!!!!! x SN 690, mostly france and UK but also US (thanks to Continental) and other EU countries x so you are now goin
38 SAS23 : Frederic - I'm not deliberately trying to be arrogant; I'm simply telling it like I see it. Having spent many years dealing with Sabena Group - includ
39 Gaut : Prices for a bru-fih-bru ticket AF: 750 ? (special fare till 14 June) 1080 ? (normal fare) SNBA: 790 ? (special fare till 23 June) 890 ? (special fare
40 Post contains images SAS23 : I was actually referring to the fares ex FIH ... after all, that's where the market is! There you will be able to find 'specials' much lower than thos
41 Pressclub : do you think hewa bora will last it longtime? I have my doubts.
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