Brussels Airlines has shared details about how it is preparing for a gradual relaunch this summer. There is plenty of anticipation about the return of European travel in the coming months, and the Belgian carrier is eager to deploy more of its aircraft. However, the company understands that flight resumptions must be handled carefully in the current conditions.
Rallying the troops
The flag carrier of Belgium shares that air travel demand is slowly picking up following the vaccination rollout. Therefore, it’s getting its flight attendants, flight deck crew, and ground staff ready for the big return after a lengthy period of downturn.
The first group of pilots began training again at the beginning of this month. The program takes approximately a month to complete for each pilot and includes 14 hours of theoretical training. The initiative also involves self-study and classroom training to review all flight and aircraft procedures, 12 hours of simulation, and 10 to 20 flights with an instructor. The hours all depend on the experience of the pilot.
Each pilot then performs a line check before they are approved to fly by themselves again. Altogether, 150 pilots are required to undertake this training, which Brussels Airlines expects will be fully completed by the summer.
Of course, the airline’s aircraft also have to be in the best shape. Currently, 21 of Brussels Airlines’ 38 planes are active. To increase operations further, the carrier needs to get additional units back in the skies to be summer-ready.
“As aircraft are made to fly, not to stand on the ground, we have kept busy meticulously maintaining our birds while they were inactive, in order to keep them in great shape once we could reactivate them. To reactivate an aircraft after such a long period (some have been parked since March 2020), our Maintenance teams go through thorough procedures, checking every nook and cranny of the fuselage and moving parts, checking every valve and tube, and test-running all electronic systems,” Brussels Airlines shares in a statement.
“They test the engines, replace life vests and other safety equipment if they are expired, and getting the cabin ready with a thorough cleaning. Finally, they run a test flight to give the aircraft a final GO for operations. The entire de-storage process takes approximately 200 man hours per aircraft.”
A new climate
Of course, just like how the airline and its counterparts have been highlighting throughout the course of the last year, there is a sustained emphasis on health and safety. Face masks will continue to be mandatory throughout the airport and entire flight for those over the age of six. Row by row boarding and de-boarding to cut down on long lines will also remain. Even the flight attendants are going through refresher training to be mindful of COVID-related hygiene measures. Moreover, those that feel unwell are requested to not travel in order to protect others.
Altogether, this summer is expected to be considerably busier for carriers than in previous periods since the rise of the pandemic. Nonetheless, several countries are like to still have some sort of restriction in place, whether it’s quarantine, testing, or vaccine requirements. Therefore, it’s important to keep up to date with the conditions of the country you are heading to.
Nonetheless, Brussels Airlines’ preparations and expectations highlight the progress made to ensure that travel can resume safely and effectively. There will undoubtedly be an abundance of pent-up demand across Europe. The airline already flies to destinations across Europe and West and Central Africa. It’s also been returning to the likes of Madrid and Athens this month. Later this spring, the airline has its eyes on several additional returns across the continents, including routes to North America.
What are your thoughts about Brussels Airlines’ preparations? Will you be flying with the carrier this year? Let us know what you think of the operator and its services in the comment section.