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Sabena Routes Opb Virgin Express?

Sun Jan 02, 2005 7:42 am

For some years prior to Sabena's demise, some of their seemingly significant routes from BRU were operated by Virgin Express with 733/734 equipment, with SN* flight numbers. In July, 2000, for example, all of Sabena's frequencies to LHR, BCN and FCO were opb Virgin Express. Why were these routes outsourced to Virgin Express (especially the high-profile, presumably high-yield LHR route; the only other London area airport served by Sabena was LCY, flown as SN* flights by Schreiner, with DH8 aircraft)?
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RE: Sabena Routes Opb Virgin Express?

Sun Jan 02, 2005 1:54 pm

Sabena indeed outsourced the London, Barcelona and Rome routes to Virgin Express and the decision wasn't a very popular one with SN's business passengers, especially the ones on the popular London routes. SN/TV operated eight daily BRU-LHR flights.

Sabena officially made the move in order to free up capacity and use it to fuel growth in its expanding European network at the time. But the main reason was the Sabena was getting beaten out of the market by VEX on the BCN and FCO routes.

The cooperation was a commercial disaster for Sabena, which was forced to lower its own fares on the route and reduce its C-class product to a 'Business Express' with limited service. The biggest problem, however, was the very limited comfort onboard the VEX planes, which were basically in charter configuration. After many complaints, business class was finally given an inch or two of extra leg space, but the overall experience remained abysmal.

Apart from LHR, BCN and FCO, Sabena/Virgin operated the same cooperation on routes between BRU and LGW and STN for a while. SN and TV remained competitors on other routes, including MAD and NCE.

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RE: Sabena Routes Opb Virgin Express?

Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:03 am

I flew MAN-BRU-FCO with SN in Feb 2001. Unfortunately the BRU-FCO leg was on a TV 737-300, a very poor second in comparison to the nearly new SN A319 on the MAN-BRU leg. Service levels were also completely different. Was impressed with SN, shame they didn't survive, but then there were some bad decisions made in those last years. Yet to try the "new" SN, but from what I hear they seem to be a good airline.
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