On the European network, Brussels Airlines noted a significant increase in leisure demand for summer: 75% more requests from tour operators, 140% more requests for charter business compared to 2020, and the expectation that this touristic demand will even further increase leading up to the summer.
Within the scope of Reboot Plus, Brussels Airlines rightsized its short- and medium haul fleet from 42 aircraft in 2019 to 30 in 2020. With especially touristic markets recovering quicker than initially forecasted, the airline decided to expand its capacity to reap this additional summer demand: The lease of one A319 will therefore be extended to October 2022 and the phase in of one A320 will be advanced to June 2022 in order to offer 80% of the 2019 summer production.
“We see clear signals that this crisis is slowly but surely coming to an end. The leisure segment in the market recovered more quickly than originally expected and we also see a slow but steady increase in the demand for corporate travel. By 2024 we should again reach the level of 2019 if it comes to the demand in the business travel segment. This is definitely the right time to increase our market share and once again confirm our position as Belgium’s home carrier.”
- Peter Gerber, CEO Brussels Airlines
This fleet expansion will give the company’s pilots, who currently have a parttime contract as was foreseen in its transformation plan in 2020 in order to keep all pilots on board, the possibility to return to a full-time working regime two years earlier than foreseen. On the cabin crew side, recruitments are ongoing. As it was promised in 2020, Brussels Airlines first contacted its ex-colleagues who did not see their contract prolonged that year due to the pandemic and the Reboot Plus program. 135 out of the 165 colleagues who were asked to return have accepted to work again for Brussels Airlines.
In December, Brussels Airlines already announced growth on its intercontinental sector, especially in Africa, thanks to a 9th A330 aircraft. This additional plane allows Brussels Airlines to increase frequencies to several of its destinations in Sub Sahara Africa and to resume its flights to Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Conakry (Guinée), which were discontinued in 2020.