Expatica news

Charleroi ‘stealing passengers’ from Zaventem

12 April 2005

BRUSSELS – Brussels National Airport is losing business because of low-cost flights running from Charleroi, according to a new study.

On Tuesday, the Belgian media reported that around 10 routes at Zaventem have suffered since the arrival of Ryanair at the smaller airport in 2001.

A study commissioned by BSCA, which manages Charleroi, found that Zaventem has seen passenger numbers shrink on all lines which are also offered at Charleroi.

Flights to Carcassonne, Shannon, Pisa and Glasgow were even cut at Zaventem when Ryanair started flying to those destinations.

Ryanair’s introduction of flights to Stockholm has enabled Charleroi to take more than a fifth of the market of Belgian flights to the Swedish city (27 percent), meaning Zaventem has seen its slice of the cake decrease from 95 percent to 73.

In 2004, Zaventem lost 69 percent of the market on its flights to Venice, due to competition from Ryanair.

Charleroi has also taken 8 percent of Zaventem’s Rome business.

The number of passengers flying from Brussels National fell from 617,139 in 2002 to 512,462 in 2004, with Ryanair attracting 55,973 passengers initially, rising to 226,345 in 2004.

Laurent Jossart, BSCA’s managing director told La Libre Belgique: “This state of affairs is important for our credibility with airlines and we want to prove to them that we have conquered a desirable place in the landscape of international European airports.”

The management of Brussels National, though, played down the significance of the trends presented in the study. Paul De Backer, spokesman for Biac, which runs Zaventem, stressed that low-cost flights are not necessarily bad news for more expensive, existing services.

In the case of flights to places like Carcassonne, Ryanir has provided a link that did not exist before.

He said even when low-cost companies competed with the classic airlines on destinations they stimulated interest in particular destinations, leading to more passengers overall flying.

He pointed out that the total number of passengers flying to Dublin from both airports has risen from 388,857 in 2000 to 425,364.

Last year, 180,142 passengers flew to Toulouse, compared to 109,022 in 2000.

A total of 355,816 people opted to fly to Stockholm in 2004, compared to 305,157.

De Backer said last year business at Zaventem was up on the previous year by 4.3 percent – with 7.2 million travellers choosing Belgium’s biggest airport.

However, he admitted: “Charleroi is a serious competitor to Brussels on some lines. It’s not a problem, but the fact that the conditions are not the same worries us.”

“There is activity at Charleroi thanks to public subsidies. For healthy competition it would be better if the same market rules were applied to everyone. We hope that the new European rules being prepared on this subject will take account of that,” he added.

 [Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news