pressclub
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Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Tue Apr 30, 2002 8:39 pm

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'















 
lmml 14/32
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Tue Apr 30, 2002 9:50 pm

Pressclub: what a great job you have. Enjoy it, and thanks for keeping us up to date.
 
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Fly-K
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Tue Apr 30, 2002 9:54 pm

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...
 
gaut
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Tue Apr 30, 2002 10:09 pm

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.»
 
sab12
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Tue Apr 30, 2002 10:11 pm

Rob Kuypers told the employees that 'big news' would come beginning of june
 
gaut
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Tue Apr 30, 2002 10:13 pm

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

Gaut
«Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.»
 
Sabena 690
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 12:01 am

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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Photo © Bart Noëth



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
 
Guest

RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 1:33 am

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
 
swake
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 2:04 am

Konstantin

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

Swake
 
airDD
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 2:45 am


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 ...

 
Established02
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 2:55 am

> 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
 
ScottB
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 3:01 am

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
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 3:15 am

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



 
Guest

RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 3:21 am

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.
 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 3:21 am

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.



 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 3:30 am

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.



 
Established02
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 5:05 am

> 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

 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 5:21 am

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?
 
swake
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:21 am

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
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:27 am

> 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
 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 9:20 am

swake: this is incorrect. I am not pro or contra: i just do my job. It's in my own interest to do so.
 
Sabena 690
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 5:32 pm

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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AFa340-300E
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 5:40 pm

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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Photo © Thomas Millard




Best regards,
Alain Mengus
ATB - Air France & Concorde
 
Guest

RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 5:57 pm

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.
 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:10 pm

Ceilidh,

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


 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:13 pm

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 flight will be add during the summer peak. The capacity is limited to 85 pax to avoid problems with carry on lugage.

Greetz

Pressclub
 
ly334
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:15 pm

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.


Thanks
All my toughts are in aviation!!!
 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:22 pm

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 Sabena). But it's certainly not their priority. Main focus is connecting Brussels with Europe and Africa.

 
luchtzak
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:33 pm

@ 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 before they book tickets on our flights. Just like any other company.

European people just book flights, but in Africa it's just another way of living...

I hope you realize this, we all are really fed up with your critizising way of speak, the way you attack Pressclub, isn't the way you should write messages.

I really kinda know your education you followed.

Kind regards
 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:39 pm

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 me was completely incorrect. I mentioned the pax figures for the first flight BRU-FIH and wrote that the RETURN flight was almost fully booked. Nevertheless he attacked me in his old style. Maybe we must ask airliners.net to impeed him once more. I try to give correct, additional info for discussion. I see that many people have the same idea about this site. Only SAS has a different view.




 
luchtzak
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:43 pm

@ Pressclub

hard times, hard times....
just like a 'kakkerlak' you just can't get rid off...

kind regards
luchtzak
 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:48 pm

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 of them it was a maiden long haul flight as cabin attendant after many years DAT Avro jet
 
Sabena 690
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:50 pm

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 )

Have you ever looked at your reports Ceilidh?

You will be looking for another job shortly

It is just you who has to say this!! Who had to change from job?? Big grin What happened with your own company? Big grin
So please, instead of attacking people with experience, attack first yourself.
Go back to the UK, go to your Lockheed Tristars, and do something with them first instead of bashing people here!!!

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.

It seems that you are still even pessimistic as the time of the 'Ceilidh posts'!!!
The problem for your company was not only the winter season but the whole year!!! You just don't know how to do it better, so listen first to other people, and stop bashing them!!

Frederic

 
luchtzak
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 7:51 pm

Pressclub,

I know, my girlfriend came back today from CKY after leaving me for 5 days  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

 
Guest

RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 8:22 pm

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 the major problems with African operations is the huge number of no-shows; whilst they might have been heavily booked, how many pax actually flew?

Also, I note that my points about the low yields have been avoided!  Big grin

Luchtzak - for your information, I was CEO of a regional airline based in BJM that fed pax to SN at both KGL and EBB. I've also lived in Africa for some 20 years - therefore I suspect I know rather more about business conditions there than you do as a very young flight attendant.  Big grin

Sabena 690 - Whilst I was certainly pessimistic about Sabena in many of my posts, probably at least 85% of what I have predicted about Belgian aviation matters has come to pass.
 
luchtzak
Posts: 456
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 8:28 pm

@ 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 just can say what they want in this forum....

 
Sabena 690
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 8:38 pm

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 do now and ever did?

If you want to share your opinions and your conclusions, just do it like we all do. That is why this is a DISCUSSION forum. But do it in another way.

If you look how you stay bashing people and aviation (certainly Belgian aviation), I should make a third nick (if you don't have one yet), because you will be banned again soon!!

And now back to topic please...

Pressclub, you wrote that 25% of the people who already bought tickets are non-Belgians, 50% are africans and the other 25% are Belgians. Do you know, for the 25% non-Belgian tickets, from which country the people are that already bought the most tickets of this 25%? If they come from France, this is a real succes for SNBA!!

Regards,
Frederic
 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 8:46 pm

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 going to make a correction and an appologize, SAS?
 
Guest

RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 8:49 pm

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 - including the negotiation and purchase of aircraft from DAT - I got to know a fair number of the personalities involved and had a pretty good insight into the company and its problems. I can see many of those same mistakes being made again, and I am simply raising warning flags about them.

As for the non-Belgian non-Africans buying tickets, I'd suspect that they would consist of a lot of Israelis trading diamonds, the UN personnel that Pressclub already mentioned, and people transiting BRU.

Don't forget that SN offered incredibly cheap tickets - and SNBA is doing the same thing (even undercutting Hewa Bora, I hear!). There are a lot of people who are very price-sensitive, and they will go where the best deals are to be made. However, as I said earlier, the downside to that is that they are effectively selling €100 notes for €90 - which is bad business.
 
gaut
Posts: 436
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 10:14 pm

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 till 21 June)
1180 ? (normal fare)

Hewa Bora: 950 ?

Yes Ceilidh is right flying with AF or SNBA is cheaper than flying with Hewa Bora (untill July) !!!

Unbelievable !!

Gaut
«Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.»
 
Guest

RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Wed May 01, 2002 10:20 pm

I was actually referring to the fares ex FIH ... after all, that's where the market is!  Big grin There you will be able to find 'specials' much lower than those ex Europe.

Incidentally, if anyone wants a great deal on Round The World (RTW) tickets, then look at getting them from Africa (eg Kenya or South Africa) - I do and I save around US$1000+ in F.
 
pressclub
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RE: Warm Welcome For SN Brussels In Kinshasa

Thu May 02, 2002 12:35 am

do you think hewa bora will last it longtime? I have my doubts.