Brussels Airlines welcomed over 3.2% more passengers in 2016

In 2016, Brussels Airlines welcomed 7.7 million passengers on board of its worldwide flights. That is an increase of 3.2% compared to 2015, a remarkable result given the challenges the airline faced last year.

Brussels Airlines closed the year 2016 with 7,736,791 passengers, which is almost a quarter of a million or 3% more than 2015. The airline registered growth on both the European and the African and North American network. Out of the 7.7 million passengers, 6.5 million flew on a European flight, 883,995 travelers flew to and from Africa and 290,836 passengers traveled to or from North America. The seat load factor decreased slightly and amounted to 74.9%. The seat offer, expressed in available seat-kilometers increased by 6.8% and the revenue passenger kilometers grew by 7.4%

2016 was also a year of growth for Brussels Airlines’ cargo activity. The total volume of transported freight grew by 6% to 35.338 tons, which is in line with the increased cargo capacity.

The passenger growth was accomplished in very difficult market circumstances. The results of 2016 are very positive if you consider the terror attacks that struck Belgium in March and which led to a significant decrease of the number of foreign passengers travelling to Belgium. For the point-to-point traffic to Brussels, 2016 was a tough year. This was partly compensated by an increase of the number of transfer passengers but it is clear that Belgium needs to be further promoted abroad as a touristic and economic destination.

In addition to its scheduled flight activity, Brussels Airlines operates many holiday and group flights for tour operators. Passenger figures for this activity are not included in the figures of this press release.

Highlights of the year 2016 include the launch of Brussels Airlines’ very first service to Canada (Toronto), the expansion of the European network with many new destinations, the launch of the new Economy Privilege product on long haul flights, the opening of new airport lounges “The Suite” in Brussels and Kinshasa and the fleet harmonization project to replace regional aircraft by larger Airbus aircraft.




Year/year difference





Available seat-kilometres (in millions)




Revenue Passenger-kilometres (in millions)




Freight tonnage   




Freight Load Factor



-0.6 pp

Passenger Load Factor



-0.9 pp


December 2016

In december 2016 the number of passengers increased by 15.2%, while the seat load factor grew by 1,7 percentage points. The freight volumes evolved positively as well. When comparing to 2015, one should take into account that the passenger traffic was in decline that month because of the Brussels lockdown.



December 2016

December 2015

month/month difference





Available seat-kilometres (in millions)




Revenue Passenger-kilometres (in millions)




Freight tonnage   




Freight Load Factor



+5.6 pp

Passenger Load Factor



+1.7 pp

Figures based on preliminary figures currently available

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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 85 destinations, 17 of which are in Sub Saharan Africa. The company employs more than 3,300 people and operates 43 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 10,000 daily flights to almost 1,200 airports in 184 countries.

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