March figures strongly influenced by events of 22 March

Brussels Airlines’ March passenger figures clearly illustrate the impact of the events of March 22nd followed by the 12-day closure of Brussels Airport, the home base of the Belgian airline. A total of 455,599 passengers flew with Brussels Airlines in March,  which is 19.1% less compared to last year. It is the first time in more than 2,5 years that Brussels Airlines records a passenger decrease.

Up until March 21st Brussels Airlines recorded a passenger increase of 9.6 percent and an increase of its seat load factor by 6.1 percentage points, in line with the growth of the previous months. From March 22nd onwards the figures are heavily impacted by the attacks at Brussels Airport. Due to the events of March 22nd, the rest of the month, which promised to be very busy because of the Easter exodus, no traffic was possible to and from Brussels Airlines’ hub. A limited part of the European flight program was therefore relocated to the regional airports of Liege and Antwerp as from March 24th  and part of the intercontinental flights were organized through the airports of Frankfurt and Zurich. Moreover, Brussels Airlines proactively offered its passengers alternative travel options with other airlines and allowed their customers to cancel or modify their travel plans without any charge. Between the 22nd and 31st of March, Brussels Airlines flew 54,650 passengers to and from these alternative airports. In comparison to that same period last year, when 197,421 passengers travelled to and from Brussels Airport.

March 2016 ended with a passenger decline of 19.1%. In total 385,725 passengers flew on a European flight, 61,292 passengers travelled to Africa and 8,582 passengers flew with Brussels Airlines to New York. The load factor fell by 0.5 percentage points, which resulted in 68.6%.

The cargo activity was obviously heavily influenced by the attacks as well. Until March 21st, the cargo load factor amounted to 69 percentage points. The cargo traffic was largely interrupted after March 22nd.  A total of 2,609 tons of cargo was transported in March, which is a decline of around 21% compared to March 2015.


“As expected, our March figures are very heavily impacted by the events of March 22nd, which took away our main work tool, our home base Brussels Airport, for 12 days. Thanks to the dedication of all Brussels Airlines colleagues, the support of many partners and the flexibility of our guests, however, we were able to partially recover our operations from alternative airports, which was a very complicated logistical task. Between March 24th and April 3rd,  it enabled us to operate 1,010 flights or 38% of our normal flight schedule. Our main focus now is getting our operations back to 100% and to offer our guests a comfortable and smooth travel experience again.”

-- Lars Redeligx, Chief Commercial Officer Brussels Airlines


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.








Month/month difference in %







- 19.1

Available seat-kilometres (m ASK)



- 14.5 

Revenue Passenger-kilometres (m RPK)



- 15.1

Freight ton-kilometres (m FTK)



- 37.7

Overall Load Factor (Passengers & Fret)



- 7.1 pct. points

Passenger Load Factor (PLF)



- 0.5 pct. points


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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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