Air India and the Star Alliance…sometimes it works!!!
SN Brussels Airlines have FINALLY plugged a gaping hole in their international network by entering the Asian market, testing the waters by introducing a new nonstop flight from their home base of Brussels to Air India hub Mumbai.
What’s even more surprising is that this move comes with Air India’s (and by de-facto the government of India’s) blessing as SN will be embarking on an extensive code sharing agreement on many domestic AI flights from Mumbai.
Beginning in the Spring IATA schedule, SN will serve Mumbai 5x weekly with their newly refurbished A330 fleet, which means Economy Privilege will also be offered on the route. While the full extent of the code share with Air India is yet to be revealed, it is understood that will be comprehensive and cover many South Indian destinations such as Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Chennai along with other important domestic hubs such as Delhi, Calcutta, Ahmadabad, Amritsar. Also included in the code share agreement are other regional destinations such as Dhaka, Kathmandu, Islamabad and Colombo.
Lars Redeligx, the SN’s CFO had this to say about the impending route:
“The demand for direct flights for passengers as well as for cargo is high. With more than 50,000 passengers per year, Mumbai is the third most important intercontinental destination from Belgium. Furthermore, with this new route we can offer our guests smooth connections between Mumbai and the rest of Europe via Brussels.”
While this new service will also fill in nicely for the gap that Jet Airways has left behind with their recent closure of their Brussels mini-hub, another likely reason Mumbai was chosen over the Indian capital Delhi is the diamond industry, with lucrative traffic and perhaps even cargo flying between Brussels/Antwerp and and Mumbai/Surat.
This is a very welcome addition to the SN Brussels network which has traditionally focused on plugging the gaps parent company Lufthansa leaves in their African network, with SN focusing much more on Francophone and Belgian Central Africa. This new if not overdue venture out east should not only prove to be lucrative but the start of a new expansion program for the airline in Asia.