Bike for Africa cycles 400km through Cameroon for Mercy Ships

Today 40 Brussels Airlines employees take off to Cameroon to start a six-day mountain bike tour: Bike for Africa. With the €200.000 that Brussels Airlines aims to collect during this fourth edition, the airline is supporting the international organization Mercy Ships as well as three other local and Belgian projects. Tomorrow 15 CEO’s and top managers of Belgian companies will join the team and together with the Brussels Airlines employees start their cycling tour of 400 km through the country rightfully nicknamed ‘Africa in miniature’, thanks to its big diversity of climates and vegetation.

This year, Brussels Airlines’ for Africa organizes the fourth edition of Bike for Africa, an initiative by Brussels Airlines employees to raise money for charity together with corporate partners. A team of 40 Brussels Airlines employees takes off to Douala today and is joined by 15 CEO’s and top managers from Belgian companies tomorrow, with among them Bernard Marchant, CEO of Rossel Group, Marc Desmet, General Manager of Adecco and Brussels Airlines’ own CEO Bernard Gustin. Also singer Piet Goddaer aka Ozark Henry takes part in the cycling tour as an ambassador of the project.

This year’s goal is to collect €200.000, whereof the biggest part will be donated to Mercy Ships. Mercy Ships is an international organization that operates the largest private hospital ship, the “Africa Mercy”, in African countries along the West Coast to provide them with free medical support and training. From August 2017 till June 2018 the Africa Mercy will lie at anchor at the coast of Cameroon with aboard over 400 volunteers, including doctors, nurses and engineers. At the end of the mountain bike tour, the Bike for Africa group visits the ship in Douala, and has the opportunity to actually see the medical teams at work and visit the beneficiaries of their fundraising work.

“For us at Brussels Airlines, it’s important to show the world the beauty and the potential of Africa. The enthusiasm around this 4th edition in Cameroon shows that we succeeded in promoting the African continent as a fantastic mountain bike venue, but also that people want to take their social responsibility and help improve the living conditions of the local communities.”
Ilse Verhelst, CSR Manager Brussels Airlines

Besides Mercy Ships Bike for Africa will also financially support the local project Foumbot, a technical school for 700 pupils, to make further enlargement of the school possible. Another part of the collected funds will be donated to two Belgian initiatives. “Eindelijk” in Buggenhout, a day care center for 20 people with traumatic brain injury and “Samarcande” in Etterbeek which offers support to children and their families in problematic situations.

Bike for Africa was first organized in 2011 in Rwanda and Burundi with a donation of €93.000 for SOS Children’s Villages. Two years later the mountain bikers cycled through Uganda and raised €140.000 euro for CoRSU Hospital in Kampala and United Fund for Belgium. By choosing the West-African countries Senegal and The Gambia for its third edition, Bike For Africa didn’t only raise €150.000 euro, but also once again increased awareness of the Africa is not Ebola initiative launched by the airline to rebuild the continent’s reputation after the Ebola epidemic.

“Impressed as we were by the magnificent route through the land of a thousand hills that connects Kigali with Bujumbura, the idea of a mountain bike trip with colleagues in Africa started to grow in our head. We immediately linked it to our social responsibility in Africa …and Bike for Africa was born.”
Ilse Verhelst, CSR Manager Brussels Airlines for Africa is Brussels Airlines’ CSR program, accommodating and supporting humanitarian projects in Africa, the continent Brussels Airlines considers its second home. Since many years, the airline’s employees are actively involved in humanitarian projects and show a very strong social commitment. In 2010 Brussels Airlines decided to bundle and structure those internal staff initiatives and added a selection of external projects by NGO’s and not-for-profit organizations. Its goal is to facilitate projects that are closely connected to the core of Brussels Airlines.

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About Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines is the home carrier of Belgium and one of the four network airlines of the Lufthansa Group. It connects the European capital from Brussels Airport with over 90 destinations, 18 of which are in Sub Saharan Africa. The company employs more than 3,400 people and operates 44 aircraft.

Brussels Airlines aims to emit 50% less CO2 by 2030 compared to 2019 and plans to be carbon neutral by 2050. The airline is participating in the Stargate Project led by Brussels Airport and is therefore part of the testing ground for sustainable aviation at its home base. In addition, the airline signed the Circular Economy agreement of the Antwerp Management School in 2021. The airline was the first to transport Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) through the CEPS-pipeline connecting Brussels Airport early 2023. By end 2024, Brussels Airlines will have welcomed five state-of-the-art Airbus A320neo allowing the airline to significantly lower its CO2- and noise-emissions on its medium-haul network.

As an ambassador of its country, Brussels Airlines brings the world to Belgium and the best of Belgium to the world, among others through collaborations with Belgian Star Chefs, Belgian culinary products and the Belgian Icons, specially painted aircraft that honour a Belgian iconic person, team or event to promote Belgian culture worldwide.

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About Star Alliance

The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance, based on a customer value proposition of global reach, worldwide recognition and seamless service. Since inception, it has offered the largest and most comprehensive airline network, with a focus on improving customer experience across the Alliance journey.

Overall, the Star Alliance network currently offers more than 17,000 daily flights to over 1,200 airports in 190 countries.

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