As Indian carrier Jet Airways has revealed it is re-evaluating its activities at Brussels Airport, the management team at Belgium’s main international air transport gateway is already looking at how it could fill any void with new flights to North America and India.
Jet Airways currently offers a mini hub operation at Brussels Airport with daily flights from Delhi and Mumbai in India connecting in the Belgian capital to daily continuation flights to Newark, USA and Toronto, Canada, but changes to its business strategy after United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier, Etihad Airways became an equity partner mean this demand is not being more efficiently handled via Abu Dhabi International Airport.
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“Ever since the end of 2013 there has been a strategic cooperation between Jet Airways and Etihad Airways and as a result of that, cooperation with the Star Alliance network has been reduced drastically. It was therefore to be expected that Jet Airways was going to re-evaluate their flights to Brussels Airport,” said Arnaud Feist, Chief Executive Officer, Brussels Airport.
When Jet Airways first came to Brussels Airport, the airport invested heavily so that the airline could make a large number of simultaneous arrivals and departures during the busiest period of the day. But, these investments also helped to increase the number of long-distance flights to Brussels Airport and strengthen the Star Alliance network.
During the last few years Brussels Airport’s intercontinental network has expanded significantly with the arrival of US Airways (now American Airlines), Air Canada, United Airlines (from Chicago), a doubling of the activities of Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways International, Emirates Airline, and All Nippon Airways (ANA) and a doubling of the number of long-distance flights of local carrier, Brussels Airlines from four to eight.
The airport says it is “looking at several different options” in terms of starting new routes into North America and India. It believes Brussels Airlines will be well placed to expand their successful operations to New York and Washington with new destinations in North America, while Star Alliance member Air India could serve India directly or fellow members such as Air China, Asiana Airlines or Shenzhen Airlines could introduce flights into Brussels via India to support Star’s hub operation from the Belgian capital.
Jet Airways has served Brussels since August 2007 when it first started using the Belgian capital as a stopover on flights between Mumbai and Newark. Flights from Delhi to Toronto, via Brussels, started in September 2007, while links were also offered to MAA and New York from October 2007. Bangalore was also served from October 2008 to January 2009. The MAA and New York services ended in late 2012, albeit MAA flights did return briefly between March and May 2014.
Analysis of Sabre demand data shows that over five million passengers have flown with Jet Airways on its flights via Brussels Airport with over 775,000 bi-directional passengers flying to, from or via the Belgian hub last year, its largest annual total since its flights commenced in the middle of the previous decade. An annual analysis of the demand for the four current destinations Jet Airways links to Brussels highlights the important role the hub offering provides in supporting demand between the Indian and North American markets.