Brussels Airport, 24 September 2007 – During the summer months, the airport recorded record figures. July was the busiest month in the history of Brussels Airport in numbers of arriving and departing passengers. This summer also brought the busiest August month ever. During July and August 3,7 million passengers used the airport, a rise of 7% on the summer of 2006. Freight, too, did exceptionally well, recording growth of 7% in the first 8 months of this year. Brucargo has thus strengthened its position as the sixth freight airport in Europe.
Wilfried Van Assche, CEO of Brussels Airport, is very satisfied with these results. "We succeeded in processing these record figures without significant problems. All members of the airport community have delivered outstanding work." Wilfried Van Assche ascribes the strong performance to a number of factors. Firstly, there was an increased number of attractively priced flights, and the new destinations served by flights from Brussels. This growth in capacity meant that many tens of thousands of additional seats were available to summer destinations at attractive prices.
Seat occupancy rates also improved. During July and August, Brussels Airport recorded an average of 87 passengers per flight as against 84 during the previous year. Many holiday flights were fully booked, and many companies opted to use larger aircraft than last year. For example, Continental flew to New York with a B777, Royal Air Maroc used a B747, and Air Algerie and Tunisair made extensive use of wide-bodied aircraft. On average, larger aircraft were also used on European routes. "Our efforts over the last two years to put Brussels back ‘on the map’ with various airlines and with the public, for both passenger traffic and cargo, are beginning to bear fruit", says Van Assche. "And of course the dreary weather at home has encouraged many people to seek the sun abroad."
New transatlantic routes from US Airways to Philadelphia and from the Indian company Jet Airways to New York provided extra capacity, together with the use of larger aircraft by other companies. The strength of our currency over the dollar was an additional stimulus in this market.
The new New York – Brussels – Mumbai (Bombay) route flown by Jet Airways surprised from day one with its high occupancy rate and the high number of ‘local’ passengers with Brussels as the point of departure or the final destination.
A number of European countries also recorded surprising figures. Portugal, Italy and Poland experienced impressive growth and typical city break destinations where new low cost airlines are active, such as Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Geneva, performed exceptionally well. Charter traffic and low-cost airlines recorded high occupancy rates. In July and August Turkey was re-established as a destination in the sun, with growth of 10%. Various other countries around the Mediterranean also did very well, which suggests a shift from road to air.
Since the start of the year freight has grown by 7% to a total of 495,000 tonnes. This growth was supported in particular by new connections and more frequent flights to Asia and the Middle East with daytime cargo flights. Freight capacity on passenger aircraft for the new passenger connections which were introduced this summer also contributed to this record performance.
The number of flights in and out of Brussels Airport grew by 3.6% during the summer months, barely half the rise in passenger numbers. That indicates the use on average of larger aircraft than last year, and a better occupancy rate.
Forecasts for the autumn
These strong growth figures and trends continued in the first weeks of September. From October the range of low-cost destinations will be significantly increased, with new routes and new companies. From the new winter season (end October), there will also be new long-distance routes and increased frequencies. The position of Brussels Airport as the gateway to Africa, with new flights from Brussels Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines, will be further strengthened, as will transport to India when Jet Airways starts to fly to a new destination, Chennai.
Source: Brussels Airport
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