‘Can’t Miss India On Our Network’
Brussels Airlines sees India as an important market. The airline’s CEO, Bernard Gustin, was in India, soon after the airline brought Mumbai onto its direct route network
Photo Credit : Subhabrata Das
Brussels Airlines sees India as an important market. The airline’s CEO, Bernard Gustin, was in India, soon after the airline brought Mumbai onto its direct route network.
What is your experience with the new route now that you have added India to Brussels Airlines’ network in March?
The first results of our new route are very promising. The seat load factors average around 75 per cent, with up to 85 per cent load factors in the direction of Mumbai and Brussels. Of course, it’s still too soon to draw any conclusion, but the forward bookings show a positive trend.
Mumbai’s new airport is modern, efficient and customer friendly. It allows smooth onward connections to the rest of India, thanks to our close cooperation with star alliance partner, Air India.
Does the low-cost model challenge expansion plans of aviation companies like Brussels Airlines?
Low-cost competition is not a new given anymore. It has been around for a long time, and we at Brussels Airlines, have a lot of experience in competing with low- cost, as Belgium has one of the highest offer of low-cost seats in whole of Europe. That is actually what has challenged us to create our hybrid business model, and successfully, so we now manage to offer competitive prices and high-quality service to our short-haul customers in Europe.
How compatible is India with Brussels Airlines’ hybrid business model?
India is just like Africa, the US and Europe, a valuable part of our network, as it allows us to add another key destination to our network offer to, from and via our hub, Brussels Airport. India is the third most important intercontinental destination for Belgium. Needless to say, we can’t miss it on our network. There is a high demand for this route, both for leisure and business.
Will the price-conscious nature of this market force you to tweak your business model?
I am convinced that our business model is prepared for this challenge. The US is also a price-conscious market, so this is not new for us. We will always listen to the market, but without compromising on service.
Any future strategy and growth plans for the Indian network?
Belgium and India are close economic partners. Our country is the second EU exporter of goods to India, just behind Germany. For Indian companies, Belgium is the fourth export destination in the European Union. So there is a massive opportunity in passenger traffic as well as cargo. That’s why we decided to make our strategy evolve from purely the US, Africa and Europe, to also add Mumbai.