Pressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5 Posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 3084 times:
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.
Fly-K From Germany, joined May 2000, 3133 posts, RR: 52 Reply 2, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 2947 times:
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.
Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
Sabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 6, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 2898 times:
Nice to see you back in Belgium after your unforgettable experience
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
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.
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
SAS23 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 7, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 2876 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!
Scottb From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 6442 posts, RR: 33 Reply 11, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 2825 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)?
Pressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5 Reply 12, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 2820 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
Pressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5 Reply 14, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 2811 times:
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.
Pressclub From Belgium, joined Nov 2001, 774 posts, RR: 5 Reply 15, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 2802 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.
Swake From Belgium, joined Jan 2001, 231 posts, RR: 0 Reply 18, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 2724 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?
Established02 From Belgium, joined Jan 2002, 536 posts, RR: 2 Reply 19, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 2719 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.
Sabena 690 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 21, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 2672 times:
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?
SAS23 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 23, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 2667 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 )
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.