The fact that Virgin (Branson) wants to fly long haul out of Brussels is actually not really "Big" news. The idea had already been mentioned in the past.
However with all the troubles in the world such as the gulf war (Iraq) and the SARS epidemic, all plans (projects) have come to a stop.
Today things are beginning to improve (very slowly) The war is over and the SARS cases seem to be diminishing (or in any case the panic has passed). This clears the way for new investment and new growth.
There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Brussels airport is underutilized and has great potential for growth, especially since the disappearance of it's national airline Sabena but also because major European airports are becoming more and more overcrowded and airlines are going to be on the lookout for alternatives, Brussels being right in the middle with a huge infrastructure already in place.
Sabena_690 and MAH4546 - You are both right. Any airline that would like to start long haul services out of Brussels must have a feeder network. VG
Airlines was indeed a poorly advertised and poorly run airline, especially when Tony Gram took over the airline (when it became Delsey Airlines). He thought it was wasted money to pay to be included in a worldwide CRS (Computer
Reservations System) and that proved to be one of the (if not the) most fatal mistake(s). CityBird on the other hand had a little more "guts". Very good advertising campaigns and excellent prices. People were coming from all over Europe (on their own) to get to Brussels. Even by train. Once again, even in this situation they would of been more successful had they had a European feeder system in place. This, I believe is so important that it makes the difference between success and failure.
Miami, I am sure, would be a success out of brussels. Not only for Florida but because it's a major gateway to the Caribbean and South America as well. Back in the good old days when Sabena was still around, Sabena wanted to fly daily to Miami but the project was blocked by Swissair because they feared that Sabena would take away their business. Once again it's clear that the
potential is there.
Apuneger - I don't think that the difference between the Virgin Express(VEX) and Virgin Atlantic product would stop them from working together. On the contrary. I think it would be perfectly possible for VEX to continue to offer the "No Frills" product on the European flights while Virgin Atlantic offers the improved service on Long Haul. The trend more and more these days is that
companies sending their people on business trips have the tendency to put their employees in economy class for the short trips, and are switching over to business class for the longer routes. They no longer find it worthwhile to pay for an improved service on such short trips but at the same time it remains important for their employees to get the needed rest on the long flights.
It's time for someone to see the real potential here in Brussels. Will it be Virgin? They've already got a European network (feeder system) in place. To make money you must have money. If Virgin (Branson) wants to invest in a Long Haul network out of Brussels, I say good for them!