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CaptainAce
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Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:33 pm

I've noticed that Brussels Airlines has a huge amount of destinations in Africa, even those only served by one major European carrier such as Dakar by Air France. Does anybody know why? As far as I know I don't remember Belgium playing any roles in African colonization unlike France, Portugal, and Britain.
 
jonnyclam123
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:35 pm

Belgium had colonies in the Congo
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:36 pm

Gotta fill a niche somehow and they make it work. It's arguable that LH Group is acquiring them for the African network.
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Revelation
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:38 pm

The Belgian colonial empire (French: Empire colonial belge; Dutch: Belgisch koloniaal rijk) comprised three colonies controlled by Belgium between 1885 and 1962: Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), Ruanda-Urundi and a concession in China.

Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_colonial_empire
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asuflyer
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:40 pm

This website covers the history of Sabena in the Congo extensively.
http://sabena.alpe.be/SabenaHistory.html
 
Jetty
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:52 pm

Sabena already had a large number of destinations in Africa. As no airline filled that void when Sabena went bankrupt Brussels Airlines could rebuild Sabena's African network.

Brussels also has a huge African community and King Leopold II of Belgium personally owned Congo Free State (likely the most brutal ruler Africa has seen). So there are also current and historical ties between Brussels and Africa.
 
SpaceshipDC10
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:25 am

Aside from Africa, Sabena used to have a few North American destinations. After it went bankrupt, at a terrible time both in history and commercial aviation, it was probably far more lucrative to concentrate on the African network with all the bonds it had with Belgium than to attempt the North Atlantic's overcrowded routes.
 
donder10
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:32 am

Belgium's African colonies explain the Kinshasa, Kigali and Bujumbura routes but their network is far more extensive than that. Despite no historic links (as far as I am aware) they fly to the likes of Dakar, Ouagadougou, Bamako etc in. countries that were French territories.

Sabena was a perennial basket case whereas Brussels Airlines seems to be doing okay currently overall.
 
airbazar
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:33 am

CaptainAce wrote:
I've noticed that Brussels Airlines has a huge amount of destinations in Africa, even those only served by one major European carrier such as Dakar by Air France. Does anybody know why? As far as I know I don't remember Belgium playing any roles in African colonization unlike France, Portugal, and Britain.

Uh?
Your main question has already been answered but I should also point out that Dakar is served by more European carriers than Air France. TAP, Iberia, and Turkish also serve Dakar, plus a few European LCC's and charter carriers.
 
guillelds
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 1:09 am

Colonial and language ties. Many countries in Africa have french as their official language.
 
Newbiepilot
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 1:47 am

I suggest looking into the history of Sabena. It was the predecessor to Brussels Airlines. They started flying to Africa in 1920s before many current European airlines existed in their current form. It not only connected the Congo but also other countries in Africa. They renamed themselves Sabena World Airways and built quite a large network in Africa. They were known for being the first airline to serve a country and the last to leave in time of conflict (watch Hotel Rwanda and Sabena played a role in the Rwanda genocide).

Unfortunately Sabena collapesed when it's costly international network and small European and North American network were not sustainable. The Belgian government was funding the airline. In my opinion the large Africa network was a source of pride in the Belgium government. Eventually EU rules started limiting government funding and they were partially purchased by Swissair. Both airlines did not survive the 9/11 downturn, but there was a hole in Africa that Brussels Airlines partially filled.
 
luckyone
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:38 am

"King Leopold'a Ghost" is a book I read Freshman year of college. It's a good--although understandably critical--of the Belgian presence in the Congo.
 
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intotheair
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:55 am

The Royal Museum for Central Africa is a great place to visit when in BRU. It's full of ivory. Oops, I mean irony.
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SCQ83
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:55 am

intotheair wrote:
The Royal Museum for Central Africa is a great place to visit when in BRU. It's full of ivory. Oops, I mean irony.


They closed a while ago since they are refurbishing into a new museum more "adapted" to the political correctness of the 21st century.

I visited it 3 or 4 years ago and it was indeed like a trip to the past in every sense of the word.
 
vinniewinnie
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:01 am

Jetty wrote:
Sabena already had a large number of destinations in Africa. As no airline filled that void when Sabena went bankrupt Brussels Airlines could rebuild Sabena's African network.


A huge network in the past together with trafic rights for belgium, together with expertise made Africa a ripe market for Brussels Airlines.

Jetty wrote:
Brussels also has a huge African community and King Leopold II of Belgium personally owned Congo Free State (likely the most brutal ruler Africa has seen). So there are also current and historical ties between Brussels and Africa.


Get over it it has happened, but come to Congo and you will see that people are way past it. All colonial powers have their skeletons, but sadly for Belgium the most vivid accounts are from Congo.
 
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intotheair
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:16 am

SCQ83 wrote:
intotheair wrote:
The Royal Museum for Central Africa is a great place to visit when in BRU. It's full of ivory. Oops, I mean irony.


They closed a while ago since they are refurbishing into a new museum more "adapted" to the political correctness of the 21st century.

I visited it 3 or 4 years ago and it was indeed like a trip to the past in every sense of the word.


Interesting. To be honest, I actually have never been. It was closed when I was in BRU last year. I just like making that corny joke. :P
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SCQ83
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:20 am

intotheair wrote:
SCQ83 wrote:
intotheair wrote:
The Royal Museum for Central Africa is a great place to visit when in BRU. It's full of ivory. Oops, I mean irony.


They closed a while ago since they are refurbishing into a new museum more "adapted" to the political correctness of the 21st century.

I visited it 3 or 4 years ago and it was indeed like a trip to the past in every sense of the word.


Interesting. To be honest, I actually have never been. It was closed when I was in BRU last year. I just like making that corny joke. :P


Ahh the place was really interesting. It was like a trip back to 1950 in every sense. One of the weirdest museums I have ever visited.

Of course it was not surprising it was "closed" given the way African population was displayed. Probably now they will make something fancy and boring though.
 
B777LRF
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:11 am

CaptainAce wrote:
As far as I know I don't remember Belgium playing any roles in African colonization unlike France, Portugal, and Britain.


They very much did, and I'd strongly recommend you read 'The Ghosts of King Leopold' to learn more. You will need to prepare to be horrified, and your impression of 'great white explorers' like Stanley is likely to take a turn for the worse. The things they did to the local population beggers belief; by some accounts they eradicated around 25% of the local population and mutilated and even larger percentage.

Belgium, and as an extension thereof Sabena, has had a dominant presence in Western and Central Africa since its inception, building on the colonial ties.
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us330
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 2:53 pm

B777LRF wrote:
CaptainAce wrote:
As far as I know I don't remember Belgium playing any roles in African colonization unlike France, Portugal, and Britain.


They very much did, and I'd strongly recommend you read 'The Ghosts of King Leopold' to learn more. You will need to prepare to be horrified, and your impression of 'great white explorers' like Stanley is likely to take a turn for the worse. The things they did to the local population beggers belief; by some accounts they eradicated around 25% of the local population and mutilated and even larger percentage.

Belgium, and as an extension thereof Sabena, has had a dominant presence in Western and Central Africa since its inception, building on the colonial ties.


Without trying to divert this thread too much into a discussion on Belgian colonial history, not all "great white explorers" were the same. Tim Jeal's massive biography of Stanley, which includes a plethora of previously unavailable primary sources, contradicts much of what Hochschild wrote about Stanley in "King Leopold's Ghost," which was published before the Jeal biography.

I'm a little upset I was unable to visit the Royal Museum of Central Africa before the renovation--I had heard it was like a trip back in time, and wanted to experience it for myself based on Hochschild's description of the place.
 
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FlyCaledonian
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Tue Jan 03, 2017 6:53 pm

The language ties explain one aspect, but what I think hasn't been stated is that in the prop days where flights had to make multiple stops serving the French African colonies en route to/from the Belgian Congo made more sense than the British ones. In the Jet Age SN kept up those flights, gradually building up a network of non-stop, one-stop and triangular route flights to keep serving the destinations.

From an Anglo-centric point of view it was British Caledonian who had quite an extensive West and Central African network in the 1970s and 1980s to the English speaking countries, as well as some of the French ones. However, after acquisition by BA in the late 1980s many of those routes gradually dropped away so that today it is Accra (Ghana) and Lagos (Nigeria) that remain. They also serve Abuja (Nigeria), but that was actually a destination not served by BCal, as well as Luanda (Angola).
Let's Go British Caledonian!
 
Cunard
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:37 pm

Absolutely British Caledonian during the 1970's and 1980's operated a very extensive network to West and Central Africa from London Gatwick Airport.

Accra, Ghana
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Banjul, Gambia
Daker, Senegal
Douala, Cameroon
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Kano, Nigeria
Kinshasa, Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Lagos, Nigeria
Libreville, Gabon
Lusaka, Zambia
Monrovia, Liberia
Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Yaounde, Cameroon

British Caledonian also flew to the following destinations in North Africa

Algiers, Algeria
Benghazi, Libya
Casablanca, Morocco
Oran, Algeria
Tangier, Morocco
Tripoli, Libya
Tunis, Tunisia
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elmothehobo
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:57 pm

Brussels Airlines' success in Africa has a lot to do with the fact that they've "figured out" how to operate in a complex operational environment. They leveraged Belgium's historical ties to the DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi and more broadly with Francophone Africa's economic and familial ties to Belgium and Europe. Even in more stable countries like Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, or Benin, SN is a regarded and trusted airline.

During crisis after crisis - Brussels Airlines has maintained service while other carriers have pulled out; SN kept operating during the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Sierra Leone; they maintained service to Burundi during civil strife in 2015 and 2016; during the ongoing demonstrations and violence in the DRC, they've managed to maintain almost continuous service.

vinniewinnie wrote:
Jetty wrote:
Get over it it has happened, but come to Congo and you will see that people are way past it. All colonial powers have their skeletons, but sadly for Belgium the most vivid accounts are from Congo.


I presume you live in the DRC; I'm a little shocked at your perspective. I think you're right that people are way past it, because they don't have the luxury to sit about and mope about the past - they have families to feed and work to be done. The Belgian rule of the Congo is marred by tragedy after indignity after tragedy. For decades following independence, Belgium and its allies were consistently on the wrong side of history. From the killing of Patrice Lumumba, who was certainly no saint or friend of the West, to support of Katangan independence, to propping up Mobutu Sese Seko, outside actors undermined Belgium's economic, political, and social stability. It's no surprise that, 50+ years after independence the DRC is the basket case it is.
 
Natflyer
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:34 pm

SCQ83 wrote:
intotheair wrote:
The Royal Museum for Central Africa is a great place to visit when in BRU. It's full of ivory. Oops, I mean irony.


They closed a while ago since they are refurbishing into a new museum more "adapted" to the political correctness of the 21st century.

I visited it 3 or 4 years ago and it was indeed like a trip to the past in every sense of the word.


Rewriting history?
 
kotoka
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:55 pm

elmothehobo wrote:
Brussels Airlines' success in Africa has a lot to do with the fact that they've "figured out" how to operate in a complex operational environment. They leveraged Belgium's historical ties to the DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi and more broadly with Francophone Africa's economic and familial ties to Belgium and Europe. Even in more stable countries like Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, or Benin, SN is a regarded and trusted airline.

During crisis after crisis - Brussels Airlines has maintained service while other carriers have pulled out; SN kept operating during the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Sierra Leone; they maintained service to Burundi during civil strife in 2015 and 2016; during the ongoing demonstrations and violence in the DRC, they've managed to maintain almost continuous service.

vinniewinnie wrote:
Jetty wrote:
Get over it it has happened, but come to Congo and you will see that people are way past it. All colonial powers have their skeletons, but sadly for Belgium the most vivid accounts are from Congo.


I presume you live in the DRC; I'm a little shocked at your perspective. I think you're right that people are way past it, because they don't have the luxury to sit about and mope about the past - they have families to feed and work to be done. The Belgian rule of the Congo is marred by tragedy after indignity after tragedy. For decades following independence, Belgium and its allies were consistently on the wrong side of history. From the killing of Patrice Lumumba, who was certainly no saint or friend of the West, to support of Katangan independence, to propping up Mobutu Sese Seko, outside actors undermined Belgium's economic, political, and social stability. It's no surprise that, 50+ years after independence the DRC is the basket case it is.


Your comment is spot-on.

It's also worth pointing out that airline service in West and Central Africa in today's world is driven largely by economics and far less by historical ties or politics. It's for this reason that you see large and economically prosperous cities such as Accra and Lagos commanding service to many European and North American destinations. As an example, despite the lack of colonial ties, Brussels Airlines and soon Air France both serve Accra, as do several other European carriers.
 
vinniewinnie
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:42 pm

elmothehobo wrote:
Brussels Airlines' success in Africa has a lot to do with the fact that they've "figured out" how to operate in a complex operational environment. They leveraged Belgium's historical ties to the DRC, Rwanda, and Burundi and more broadly with Francophone Africa's economic and familial ties to Belgium and Europe. Even in more stable countries like Cameroon, Senegal, Togo, or Benin, SN is a regarded and trusted airline.

During crisis after crisis - Brussels Airlines has maintained service while other carriers have pulled out; SN kept operating during the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Sierra Leone; they maintained service to Burundi during civil strife in 2015 and 2016; during the ongoing demonstrations and violence in the DRC, they've managed to maintain almost continuous service.

vinniewinnie wrote:
Jetty wrote:
Get over it it has happened, but come to Congo and you will see that people are way past it. All colonial powers have their skeletons, but sadly for Belgium the most vivid accounts are from Congo.


I presume you live in the DRC; I'm a little shocked at your perspective. I think you're right that people are way past it, because they don't have the luxury to sit about and mope about the past - they have families to feed and work to be done. The Belgian rule of the Congo is marred by tragedy after indignity after tragedy. For decades following independence, Belgium and its allies were consistently on the wrong side of history. From the killing of Patrice Lumumba, who was certainly no saint or friend of the West, to support of Katangan independence, to propping up Mobutu Sese Seko, outside actors undermined Belgium's economic, political, and social stability. It's no surprise that, 50+ years after independence the DRC is the basket case it is.


Yes I do (not permanently or forever) and I'm originally from that evil country called Belgium. Fact is that it's better to be Belgian in DRC than French in Ivory Coast. This despite the past and recent events.

People have to get on everywhere in Africa, not only in DRC.

One has to look at what the Brits, the Germans or the French have done. It's no better, but less written about.

Back to the topic, you are spot on. Brussels airlines is sufficiently nible and knowledgeable to make it work. It also doesn't have too many overheads, a strong union and high wages. Makes it easier to do business.

it's interesting to look at Air France in comparison. They have a clear advantage in terms of serving Africa, yet they are saddled with crazy costs (they hire a plan e to bring their crew to Brazzaville from Kinshasa and back for example, no crew ever stays in Kinshasa, something I believe SN doesn't do for obvious reasons)
 
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SomebodyInTLS
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Re: Why does Brussels Airlines have so many Africa destinations?

Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:58 am

Natflyer wrote:
SCQ83 wrote:
intotheair wrote:
The Royal Museum for Central Africa is a great place to visit when in BRU. It's full of ivory. Oops, I mean irony.


They closed a while ago since they are refurbishing into a new museum more "adapted" to the political correctness of the 21st century.

I visited it 3 or 4 years ago and it was indeed like a trip to the past in every sense of the word.


Rewriting history?


I would imagine it's the opposite - acknowledging past injustice.
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