**Update: 23/11/21 @ 16:48 UTC – A Brussels Airlines spokesperson has confirmed that the aircraft selected to rejoin the fleet will be the A330-300 registered OO-SFJ**
On November 22nd, Brussels Airlines announced that it will be adding a 9th Airbus A330 to its fleet. However, according to the airline’s statement, this new aircraft won’t be coming anytime soon, with an operational start of June 2022. The new addition rebuilds the Brussels long-haul fleet and facilitates growth in the African market.
Seven months’ notice
While we’re used to hearing about fleet expansions extremely early when it comes to brand new aircraft (that may not necessarily be produced yet), it’s interesting to have Brussels Airlines announce an additional A330 some seven months in advance.
The airline says that its 9th Airbus A330 will “become operational” in the Brussels Airlines fleet as of June 2022. The carrier exclusively operates the -300 variant of the A330, it should be a safe bet that this 9th aircraft will be the same.
The additional widebody will be used by the carrier to support its African operations, as it noted in Monday’s statement:
“With the extra capacity, the Africa expert of the Lufthansa Group will reopen the West African stations Conakry and Ouagadougou and add frequencies on its routes from Brussels Airport to Freetown, Monrovia, Banjul and Lomé.” -Brussels Airlines
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Shrinking and growing
At this time, Brussels Airlines has a total of eight Airbus A330-300s. However, in previous years, the carrier had as many as 12. This figure went down to 10 just before the global health crisis and was brought further down to just eight due to industry-wide challenges. This fleet reduction was part of the carrier’s “turnaround program in 2020.”
One route suspended in 2020 was its African service to Conakry (Guinea) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). The inclusion of this 9th jet will allow the carrier to resume this service and will see it operate three weekly flights to the West African nations, “as well as add additional frequencies to Freetown, Monrovia, Banjul, and Lomé.”
“We always said that we would go for growth as soon as market conditions permitted. As we see a strong demand in the West African market, we want to take the opportunity to go for growth and invest in an expansion of our African network. –Peter Gerber, CEO, Brussels Airlines
Where will this aircraft come from?
The airline didn’t specify exactly which aircraft would be its 9th A330. However, the airline’s announcement noted that the jet would be an “allocation,” indicating that it would likely come as a reshuffle within the Lufthansa Group.
We do know that the airline “lost” its other A330s to Eurowings over the course of the pandemic. Of course, these jets have been repainted and reconfigured to meet Eurowings’ needs, but it might be more profitable for Lufthansa Group to shift one of these aircraft back to Brussels Airlines. Otherwise, there are a number of SWISS A330-300s stored in Amman (Jordan) at the moment. Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see where this allocated aircraft will come from.
Where do you think Brussels Airlines will get this additional A330-300? Let us know by leaving a comment.