Brussels sprouts new Asian connectivity with return of Singapore connection sure to be a winner with business travellers

19 December, 2019

Brussels airport has seen passenger numbers grow a third (34.2%) over the past five years. During that period Belgium’s primary air gateway has added around 30 new nonstop destinations to its network, including important long-haul connectivity.

Now, the airport is celebrating a new four times weekly connection to Singapore that will be introduced by Singapore Airlines from 25-Oct-2020, marking the Asian airlines return to Belgium’s capital city having previously ended flights in Apr-2003.

It had previously served Brussels for almost 25 years having arrived in Apr-1979 with a weekly Singapore – Dubai – Athens – Brussels operation flown using a Boeing 707. It latterly served the Singapore – Brussels market nonstop with a 747, but with a tag on to Manchester.

The resumed flight will be operated using Airbus A350-900 equipment with 253-seats. This is one of two configurations that Singapore Airlines provides on the standard version of the widebody offering a 42 seat business class cabin, plus 24 premium economy and 187 economy seats. It also operates the A350-900ULR on its ultra-long-haul flights between Singapore and North America.

Singapore has been a notable missing market from the Brussels network in Asia, which also includes nonstop services with All Nippon Airways to Tokyo; Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong; Hainan Airlines to Beijing and Shenzhen; and Thai Airways International to Bangkok.

The lack of the nonstop Brussels – Singapore service has been especially strange given that both cities are key parts of the Star Alliance global network which can provide important feed in both directions, with brussels Airlines and Lufthansa Group partners key to linking Brussels with other points across Europe and even perhaps in and out of Africa (the latter market would be more efficiently connected via Middle East hubs, but some of the destinations served from Brussels have limited other connectivity).

Around 33,000 passengers a year are already flying between Brussels and Singapore via indirect routes, according to OAG Traffic Analyser, the largest flows are currently via Frankfurt. That market grows to around 44,000 passengers when you consider the Belgium market rather than just its capital, with leakage being seen into neighbouring countries.

Currently, 11% of Belgian exports are going to Asia and the trend is on the up, says airport marketing officials and the airport aims to expand its network and further develop direct connections between Belgium and emerging countries in the region.

The Singapore Airlines wider network across Southeast Asia out of Changi International airport, will be important to the success of this route, as will corporate demand, both in the business and premium economy cabins, potentially boosted by traffic to the European Union and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

The destination "holds a huge potential” for business travellers, according to Brussels Airport officials, who highlight Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and the Philippines as key connecting markets.