After an absence of more than 10 years, Brussels-based aviation will soon be back in the United States. Belgium’s national air carrier is revving up for a big day this summer - the launch of a daily direct flight between Brussels and New York.
Starting from 1 June, Brussels Airlines will connect Europe’s capital daily with New York JFK airport.
The significance of the occasion is not lost on company CEO Bernard Gustin, who declared: “June 1 is set to be a historical day.With the launch on that day of this new scheduled service between Brussels Airport and New York, we will be bringing Belgian aviation back to America.”
All this is, of course, a far cry from the dark days of just a few years ago when Sabena, Belgium’s national airline from 1923 to 2001, went bankrupt. It was a grim period for both that once-proud airline and the country as a whole. After all, it isn’t day that a country’s national carrier goes bust.
However, better news was soon on the horizon when the newly formed SN Brussels Airlines took over part of Sabena’s assets in February 2002.
This later became what we now know as Brussels Airlines, with its corporate headquarters on the grounds of Brussels Airport in Zaventem.
According to the company, there are several reasons why they have decided to connect the Big Apple to the EU capital. Gustin said: ”More than 300,000 people travel annually between the two cities and this makes New York an important long haul destination for the Belgian market.
“Also, we have received numerous requests from passengers who would like to fly with us to New York.”
The new service will be operated with completely renewed Airbus A330 aircraft equipped with the latest in-flight technology and comfort.
The sale of tickets for the Brussels-New York JFK route has already started with a launch fare of €399 (all taxes and service fees included). Ticket sales are via the internet and travel agents.
There will be a daily morning service to New York, arriving early afternoon (local time) and an overnight service between New York and Brussels, arriving in Brussels the following morning.
This scheduling enables the New York flight to fit in smoothly with Brussels Airlines’ European and African flights, so that, allowing for a brief transfer once at Brussels Airport, dozens of destinations in Europe and Africa connect perfectly with the transatlantic route.
In JFK, the service will operate from Terminal 1 while at Brussels the plane departs from the company’s exclusive long-haul terminal.
The planes will be equipped with a brand-new business and economy class cabin (flat bed in business, ergonomic seats in economy) and the latest hi-tech entertainment system. Passengers travelling on the new route will benefit from what is a €30 million investment to boost the fleet’s facilities.
This major refurbishment of the long haul fleet (including brand new business and economy class and a facelift for the lavatories and galleys) is also seen as a “green” investment - thanks to the use of modern materials, the weight per aircraft decreases, as does fuel usage and CO2 emissions.
Said Gustin: “We are especially pleased that we will be able to serve New York, the main long-haul destination for the Belgian travel market. Not only are we investing in our own air connection to the States but, thanks to a completely new cabin, we are also offering our passengers a state-of-the-art product more than ever before.”
He added: “Customers boarding our long-haul aircraft will have the feeling they are entering a brand new aircraft. If we compare this level of comfort to the product of other airlines on transatlantic flights we conclude that we will become a real trendsetter of quality in terms of seats, relaxation possibilities, leg room and entertainment technology.”
With the bad old days of Sabena now a distant memory, Belgium’s national airline is, clearly, hoping its new daily trip across ‘the Pond’ will be a soaraway success. More info here.