Expatica news

10 million passengers for SN Brussels

9 March 2005

BRUSSELS – The three-year-old company SN Brussels Airlines has recorded its 10 millionth passenger.

On Wednesday, La Derniere Heure reported that the company, which was formed in February 2002 from a regional branch of bankrupt Sabena, has been growing at a rapid rate.

Last year, it carried 3.5 million passengers – 9.5 percent more than in 2003 – and it now employs some 2,164 people.

SN flies from Brussels National Airport to around 100 destinations and intends to put on more flights to some of the cities it already serves including Istanbul, Casablanca and Seville.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the airline’s managers announced it would see some changes to its routes after its merger with budget airline Virgin Express.

Though the deal between the two airlines has already been agreed and given the thumbs up by the monopoly commission, the merger can only go ahead once Virgin’s recapitalisation has been concluded, probably in early April.

In the meantime, the two companies are discussing the best use of the pair’s joint network, stated SN’s executive vice-president Philip Saunders, who manages the company’s marketing strategy.

“SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express will continue to be two different companies, responding to the needs of two different markets,” said Saunders.

But he admitted that the pair would take the opportunity to “free up some planes for new destinations”, hinting that in cases where both companies fly to the same destination one of the two may be cut.

Critics of the merger have warned that competition at Zaventem may suffer with SN Brussels and Virgin Express simply carving up the market between them, SN taking business passengers and Virgin Express taking bargain-hunting holiday-makers.

On Tuesday, SN Brussels refused to speculate on its financial results for 2004, however back in November president Peter Davies said the airline expected to record net profits of EUR 2.5 million.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news