Belgians are not afraid to fly this summer despite the many uncertainties brought on by the coronavirus crisis, according to Brussels Airlines, which has seen bookings exceed expectations.
Bookings have increased exponentially since the announcement of the opening of the borders, according to Kim Daenen, spokesperson for Brussels Airlines. "There is a clear desire to travel, and get out of the country. We can see that Belgians definitely want to fly," she told The Brussels Times.
"The demand for holiday flights is higher than we expected. On the first day that flights resumed, we even had to add two extra flights, because the demand to destinations like Lisbon and Rome was so high," Daenen said.
Research by the airline shows that people are not afraid to fly this summer, but elderly customers tend to postpone their trips to September or October.
The airline expects to be operating 40% of its flights in August, compared to last year. "This is an unprecedented crisis, of course. We do not know what is going to happen, and we will have to see what every day brings," she added.
- Flight resumption: 'full planes' at Brussels Airlines
- Brussels Airport expects over 1 million passengers this summer
- First post lockdown flight takes off from Brussels Airport
It will take some time before Brussels Airlines will operate 80% of its usual flights - called "the new normal" after the coronavirus crisis in the airline sector - again, and it might be years before the company will be back at full capacity, according to Daenen.
"In normal circumstances, Belgians tend to book their flights early, but now they book late. As a result, the bookings come in very late, but they do come in," she said, adding that the company had full planes last week.
Most European countries have reopened their borders to Belgian travellers from Monday 15 June, even though some have imposed certain conditions such as mandatory isolation on arrival or presenting negative coronavirus tests or proof of accommodation.
When air travel outside the Schengen zone will resume, however, is still uncertain. "We have no idea. We hope by July, but nothing is certain," Daenen added.
The Brussels Times