During the celebrations of Brussels Airlines entry into the global Star Alliance, opportunity arose to speak with the joint CEOs of SN, Mssrs. Michel Meyfroidt (Admininstraction and Finance) and Bernard Gustin (Commercial), the latter of whom had visited Uganda a few times in the past, showing a keen interest in “the Pearl of Africa.” The discussions focused on the standing of SN in Africa, and in eastern Africa in particular, and future developments.
It was confirmed during the meeting that internal discussions and evaluations were in the final stages about the acquisition of a 5th Airbus A330-300 and that early in 2010, a board decision was likely to be taken on the matter. Should the board of SN vote for the additional aircraft, as is expected, it would give Brussels Airlines the opportunity to look at a carefully-planned expansion of both frequencies and their Africa network, which presently comprises 14 “own” destinations plus a number of added ones through codeshared flights with Ethiopian to Addis Ababa and, for instance, with Lufthansa to Nigeria.
Brussels Airlines currently operates 6 days a week, except on Monday, to east Africa and serves Entebbe, Bujumbura, Kigali, and Nairobi, but it was quietly admitted that it would be desirable to fly daily into the region and then use local codeshare partners like RwandAir and Air Uganda to connect passengers to those airports where flights depart on off line days.
One thing became absolutely clear – “being passionate about Africa” is not just a convenient and eye-catching PR phrase. SN is indeed aiming at becoming, once again, the number one European carrier to Africa as was the case with the old Sabena, from which ashes Brussels Airlines rose in early 2002.