Brussels Airlines has resumed two more African routes — increasing the number of destinations the carrier serves in sub-Saharan Africa to 17. On June 11, the Lufthansa Group subsidiary and Star Alliance carrier resumed service from Brussels to Conakry, Guinea and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Both routes will be operated 3 times weekly with an Airbus A330. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brussels Airlines has not served both destinations for the past two years.
Senior Director of Sales for Brussels Airlines and the Lufthansa Group for sub-Saharan Africa, Philippe Saeys-Desmedt said in a statement that the carrier is “very happy to again expand our market position in our most important continent.”
He added, “We have been able to rehire many of our previous employees, which means we immediately have the experience that is needed to restart our [nonstop] connection between two important African capital cities … and our home base, Brussels Airport.”
The Belgium airline noted that the flights from Conakry and Ouagadougou will arrive in Brussels early in the morning, creating “connection options to the entire Brussels Airlines network in Europe and the US.”
In addition to the two destinations in Guinea and Burkina Faso, flight frequencies to Banjul, Gambia; Lomé, Togo and Monrovia, Liberia will increase this summer to five flights for each of these routes. Frequencies to East African destinations such as Entebbe, Uganda, and Kigali, Rwanda will increase to seven and five times weekly respectively.
Meanwhile, the cargo throughput at Brussels Airport remains ahead of pre-pandemic 2019. Throughput at the airport totaled 65,358 tons in May, down 9 percent from the same month of 2021 but up 12.5 percent compared to May 2019 — with Asia leading for both imports and exports.
Airfreight dropped by 4 percent to 52,629 tons and the number of cargo flights decreased by 8 percent compared to 2021, totaling 1,736. That figure is 39 percent higher than the total for May 2019.
There was a marked difference between the freighter segment where volumes fell by 11 percent year on year to 21,044 tons. Cargo in the belly of the aircraft rose by 57 percent to reach 10,687 tons as more passenger flights returned. Belly cargo lagged behind 2019 levels by 22 percent.
Of the full-freighter flights, 34 percent were operated with passenger aircraft. In May, Air Belgium began operating Boeing 747 cargo flights, in partnership with the Hongyuan Group. In addition, Virgin Atlantic inaugurated cargo flights on its Airbus A321, signaling a shift away from ‘freighters’ to freighter aircraft.
Volumes on express services fell by 15 percent to 20,897 tons as the e-commerce market in western Europe slowed. Trucked volumes also decreased, by 25 percent from year to year, to 12,730 tons. According to the airport, more money will be invested to further modernize its cargo zone over the next three years.