Brussels Airlines plans to further expand capacity on African routes in 2012 while shrinking its European operation as Boeing 737s are phased out as part of a narrowbody fleet simplification initiative. The Lufthansa Group subsidiary will also resume flights to New York in 2012, a move made possible by expansion of its A330 fleet and designed primarily to better serve the fast-growing US-Africa market.
Africa has been a second home market and the main focus for Brussels Airlines since it became part of the Lufthansa Group and entered the Star Alliance in 2009. The carrier is keen to continue this focus as the European market becomes even more challenging for small flag carriers given the region’s banking crisis and increasing competition from low-cost carriers. As an emerging market with huge potential and limited competition, Africa offers carriers from mature markets opportunities for growth and the increasingly unusual combination of high yields plus high load factors.
Although it is a relatively small carrier by Western European standards, Brussels Airlines is uniquely positioned to exploit the potential opportunities in Africa because of its African roots. Belgium has longstanding economic, cultural and economic ties with Africa. Predecessor carrier Sabena served the continent for over 75 years before ceasing operations in 2001.