The Brussels based Air Belgium has managed to make a massive turnaround despite of the recent coronavirus pandemic.
The carrier has just announced positive results for the year of 2019 along with its future destinations and new services for travellers, as well as the upcoming resumption of its regular flights to the French West Indies. The airline has also secured further investment that will keep the company going as it looks set to expand.
1. 2019 financial results and trends for 2020
2019 was marked by a major turnaround year with a well-deserved positive result. After a first complicated 2019 trimester, the actions undertaken as well as the reorientation and diversification of its activities, enabled the Company to end the year 2019 with a pre-tax profit of €5.6 M and a sales revenue of €62.5 M. This trend was confirmed in the first quarter of 2020 with a 50% increase in turnover during the same period of the preceding year.
Although Air Belgium is facing the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, its aircraft have never been grounded and have continued to operate commercial activities from Brussels and Liège Airports. To date Air Belgium employs more than 350 people, has not made any layoffs, and does not foresee any. The Company is making every effort possible to recover and to move forward.
Winter Season 2019-2020
The launch of new scheduled flights between Belgium and the French West Indies got off to a very encouraging start. This new route responded to a real market expectation. An historical increase of 80% on the market size to Martinique and Guadeloupe was therefore observed.
Belgian customers represent 65% of the Air Belgium passengers to the French West Indies followed by France and Luxemburg with 25%. Jointly, the Netherlands and Germany constitute the remaining 10%. This success confirms and validates the strategic choice of Brussels Charleroi Airport for this market.
Summer Season 2020
Continued flights for the summer season of 2020 was looking up until the COVID-19 crisis forced to suspend flights.
Nonetheless, reservations for summer are fruitful and since the end of the lockdown a very encouraging upturn of bookings for the Caribbean is observed. Half of these new bookings are for the period of July and August and the other half for the 2020 winter season. Demands remain strong and the number of potential travellers is very high.
Since a few weeks already, Air Belgium is definitely and resolutely ready to resume its regular flights to the French West Indies. The recent decisions of the French Authorities have unfortunately forced to postpone the first flight to July 15th, 2020. Air Belgium is feeling concerned by the situation and would like an immediate restart of its operations.
The airline had anticipated the resumption of its flights and put in place a series of health measures to protect its passengers and staff and to give everyone including the Authorities all guarantees of prevention. Onboard Service is also temporarily modified to ensure an optimal level of safety. A video explaining all sanitary measures is available on Air Belgium’s website here: www.airbelgium.com/en/sanitary-measures-covid-19/
The summer schedule for flights to Guadeloupe and Martinique planned for July 15th, remains in line with the schedule operated before the COVID-19 crisis. Departures from Brussels Charleroi Airport are every Wednesday and Saturday and taking off at 10:45 AM local time.
2. Opening of new routes leading to new destinations
Winter Season 2020
French West Indies: Expansion continues
As of November 20th, 2020, Air Belgium will double its flights frequency. In regards to the market interest and positive results since the launch in December 2019, the airline completes and broadens its offer by operating direct flights to and from Fort-de-France and Pointe-à-Pitre. Flight schedules are as follows: direct flights to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe, every Tuesday and Friday; direct flights to Fort-de-France in Martinique, every Wednesday and Saturday.
The signing of a commercial agreement with Air Caraïbes opens the doors of Saint-Lucia and Saint-Martin
Air Belgium and Air Caraïbes have signed a commercial agreement enabling Air Belgium to offer new destinations in the southern Caribbean with connections from Pointe-à-Pitre and Fort-de-France to the beautiful islands of Saint-Martin and Saint-Lucia.
This agreement also offers more flexibility to Air Belgium passengers who will now benefit from flights to Martinique and Guadeloupe four times a week. Flight schedules can be found on our website: www.airbelgium.com
New destinations in 2020 and 2021
In addition to the connections offered with Air Caraïbes to Saint Lucia and Saint Martin, the 2020 winter season will be marked by the launch of regular direct flights to a new destination.
As from mid-December, Air Belgium will fly twice a week to Mauritius. Bookings will be open very soon this summer. The launch of these new direct flights from Belgium with a three-class configuration are an alternative to the flights departing from Paris or stopover flights via the Middle East.
Scheduled to depart from Brussels National airport every Tuesday and Friday evening, these new flights will enable Belgian passengers to benefit from a significantly shorter flight journey, avoiding stopovers while enjoying the “Belgian Class” service of Air Belgium. Mauritius is a very popular destination for tourism in the Indian Ocean and attracts many Belgian tourists every year including several who possess a second residence on the island.
New horizons for 2021
Summer Season 2021
Air Belgium ambitions the launch of new routes in 2021 and will offer scheduled flights to:
The Dutch Antilles
The United States
Winter Season 2021
The airline is foreseeing its extension with a first destination on the African continent.
3. Outgrowth to passenger services
Air Belgium has put the last few months to profit, to develop new services to its passengers. The airline is aiming to improve its current offer and facilitate the bookings while ensuring a tailor-made service and even greater comfort.
Air Belgium is currently working to equip its Airbus 340-300s with a brand-new in-flight entertainment system. WIFI will now be available in the aircraft and will allow passengers to connect from their own devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) to a wide range of entertainment: movies, games, magazines, news outlets, etc. Beyond its entertainment, this new qualitative system will offer real benefits in terms of efficiency and swift ease of access.
Improved payment methods
Air Belgium is also enhancing its website – new payment solutions are now available:
Use of several payment cards for the same reservation
As of July, customers can now combine several bank cards to pay for the same reservation and determine themselves the amount to be debited from each card. This avoids payment limits preventing from reservations and purchases from being made.
Payment in instalments
Customers will now be able to pay for bookings in three instalments with VISA or Mastercard. This service will be available as from September and onwards.
This additional payment facility allows a group to make a single reservation by sharing the total purchase amount between different travellers. The person making the reservation can easily book and pay his share at the same time. The other members of the group will receive a link through which they can pay their share.
Payment by bank transfer
Introducing SEPA payment method.
Online payment and debit card
The various payment methods have been extended. Customers can use the following methods: Bancontact, Belfius Direct Net, KBC/CBC Payment Button, ING Home’Pay payments, Paypal & iDeal (as of mid-July).
Additional online services
Air Belgium enables hotel and rental car bookings directly from its website.
Multichannel Communication with passengers
In addition to the usual emails, passengers will be informed live and according to their preference via Messenger, WhatsApp or SMS of the latest information related to their flight.
New “Itsme” feature: Digital identity solution by Belgian Mobile ID
Lastly, Air Belgium will also be the first Belgian airline to allow its passengers to use the secure digital identity system – “Itsme”. By this new means of authentication, the passenger’s check-in and digital transactions are significantly simplified and proven very secure.
VIRUS EFFECT: CARIBBEAN AIRLINES RECORDS $14 MILLION LOSS IN A MONTH
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The state-owned carrier, Caribbean Airlines (CAL), has recorded a loss of more than US$14 million in just over a one month period, as a result of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Allyson West, has said.
She told the senate that the airline, during the period March 23 to April 30, had estimated its losses at US$14.2 million.
“The financial impact to Caribbean Airlines Limited from losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic took effect from the beginning of March 2020, prior to the closure of our national borders,” she told legislators, adding that demand for air travel had “already been reduced significantly.
“The impact was further exacerbated following the closure of our borders at midnight on March 22. As a wholly owned state enterprise Caribbean Airlines Limited has complied with government policy during the COVID-19 pandemic and maintained all of its staff on payroll”.
She said in addition to that measure, notwithstanding the fact that air travel is severely restricted at present, CAL is also required to keep its aircraft leases up to date and ensure also that the planes are air worthy and all of its systems functioning in readiness for the resumption of flights.
Last November, the airline reported its unaudited summary financial results for January to September 2019, showing it continues to achieve an operating profit and is net income positive.
The unaudited results for the nine months ending September 2019 show earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of TT$121 million (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) Revenue for the period was TT$2.3 billion up 3.8 per cent..
“It has truly been a breakout year for Caribbean Airlines. Another strong financial performance means we can continue our investments into new planes and services for our customers, building a better place to work for our employees, and supporting communities across the Caribbean through sponsorship, economic activity, and global connectivity.” Garvin Medera, the airline’s chief executive officer, said then.