Brussels Airlines will resume flights to the United States today after an absence of 15 months. The Belgian carrier will fly thrice-weekly to New York and four times a week to Washington DC. Brussels Airlines has not operated flights to the United States since March 2020.
Flights restarted after 15 months
Brussels Airlines will once again operate transatlantic flights to the United States. The airline will fly from Zaventem to New York three times a week and to Washington DC four times a week. The move comes despite travel restrictions in the US banning tourist travel from Belgium.
The airline claims its Washington DC service is selling well, with the route popular with business travelers and people transiting via Zaventem for flights heading to Africa. However, ticket sales for New York are “a bit slower for the time being,” as the service is usually popular with tourists who are currently unable to travel.
Maaike Andries, a spokesperson for Brussels Airlines, said,
“This is a symbolic milestone in our relaunch. It has been 15 months, that has been a difficult period for everyone in the aviation sector. Today is another big step towards a more normal operational life and towards more freedom.”
Brussels Airlines previously flew its A330-200s for transatlantic trips, but these planes have since been retired. The airline will now look to its fleet of 12 A330-300s for its long-haul services.
While Brussels Airlines will return to the United States, the airline will not restart its Montréal service yet, with no word of when the route will resume.
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Travel restrictions still in place
Current travel restrictions mean leisure travel between the US and Belgium is still off the cards. Brussels Airlines is hopeful restrictions will be relaxed as soon as possible, with its New York route particularly dependent on tourist travelers.
The airline added,
“We hope that travel restrictions will soon be relaxed so that travel between Europe and the US is once again easy and accessible.”
Belgium is listed as a Level 4 destination by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the highest possible level. This category denotes “a very high level of COVID-19,” and travel is strongly discouraged.
Brussels Airlines gears up for the summer
Throughout the COVID pandemic, Brussels Airlines has maintained a significantly reduced service. The carrier has primarily operated essential flights to and from Africa and grounded the majority of its fleet. In February, the airline served just 25 destinations, a number it hopes to bump up to 80 by August.
“We are really noticing that Belgians want to travel. There is a huge demand for tourist trips. People have put that budget aside, that’s clear.”
Peter Gerber, CEO of Brussels Airlines, said the airline hopes to have its full fleet in the skies by July. In April, 21 of the airline’s planes were listed as active – according to ch-aviation, this has since increased to 31 active aircraft.
Gerber is optimistic about the summer, saying,
“We’re still losing, but we hope to make a profit this summer. Ticket reservations are somewhat encouraging. If things go as planned, we will not have to ask the government for more help.”
Are you excited about Brussels Airlines’ return to the United States? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.