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India is a key market: Brussels Airlines CEO

Business Standard:  April 26, 2017

Mumbai: India is a key market for Brussels Airlines, its chief executive officer Bernard Gustin said today.

Brussels Airlines launched its service from Belgian capital to Mumbai last month, its first flight to Asia and the launch is a part of Lufthansa group's strategy to grow expand its business in India.

Lufthansa took control of Brussels Airlines last December. Lufthansa and its member airlines now operate 67 flights to India per week, the largest by any European airline group. Lufthansa had a market share of 2.3 per cent of India's international traffic in FY 16 and ranked tenth among airlines serving India's international market.

The Mumbai-Brussels route was served by Jet Airways till last March and Brussels was even the European gateway for the Indian airline. But Jet Airways pulled out of the route as it found it to be unviable.

Gustin however is optimistic about success in India. " The demand for direct flights between Mumbai-Brussels is high and the results of first few weeks are encouraging and we have seat load factors of around 75 per cent," he said. Around 60 passengers on passengers on the route travel onward while the rest end journey at Brussels.

"There is a business opportunity in India and it is a strategic market for us. We see the market growing at double digit over the next few years," said Lufthansa's (South Asia Director) Wolfgang Will.

Brussels Airlines is also a part of Lufthansa-led transatlantic joint venture in which airlines share revenue and cost on North American routes. Though it has much smaller network in US (Brussels Airlines only flies to three destinations in North America) the Belgian airline can bank upon Lufthansa's sales strength to fill up the flights from India.

Apart from growing leisure traffic the airline also hopes to attract diamond traders who travel to Belgian city of Antwerp, a hub of global diamond trade. "In 2015 around 60,000 Indians travelled to Belgium and the demand has been growing 10 per cent," said Elke Dens , marketing director of Visit Flanders (tourism board of Flanders, Northern Belgium).

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.