Wednesday, 08 September 2021
The route between Dubai and Brussels operated by the Emirates airline has been profitable since last winter, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to the management of the Belgian subsidiary of the Emirates carrier.
The company has cut many costs, including the loss of eight employees in Belgium (21 others are still active), which allows it to look forward to the coming months with a certain optimism. Additionally, the World Expo starting in Dubai on 1 October.
The Brussels-Dubai route has been profitable since last winter, according to the carrier.
Initially, after the strict lockdown of spring 2020, the company started to operate flights between the two cities again in July, with five weekly connections, compared to the previous two per day.
This was followed by an increase to seven and then to ten by the end of October. This change is due to the approach of the school holidays and also to cruise tourism from the United Arab Emirates.
“An offer that matches the demand,” said Jean-Pierre Martin, director of Emirates Belgium.
He admits that at the beginning of the revival of flights, which coincided with the reopening of Dubai to travellers, the planes sometimes left with barely 25 to 30 passengers.
However, the upturn was felt before demand dropped again at the end of January this year, with the ban on non-essential travel outside Belgian borders.
The clientele was mainly composed of people visiting friends, family and relatives, according to him. But unsurprisingly, business travel has been considerably reduced by the crisis.
For the coming months, the company is optimistic.
“We see that the market is picking up in Europe, and certainly in Belgium. We are not far from the figures for summer 2019,” Martin said. “The booking rates are good for this winter, with some dates where the planes are even full.”
Additionally, the World Expo in Dubai from 1 October to the end of March 2022 should attract even more customers, who will then have the city as their final destination more often than usual.
Without the Covid crisis, the company’s success story on its route to Brussels for the past seven years could have led it to transform one of the two daily flights operated by a Boeing 777 into an A380, according to Martin.
However, the size of the domestic market makes it difficult to operate such an aircraft from Brussels Airport, he says.
Despite this optimism for the coming months, two swords of Damocles are hanging over the tourism sector, warned Martin: the end of the coronavirus economic unemployment scheme (currently scheduled for 30 September) and the vouchers issued by the tourism industry, which may have to be reimbursed within a few weeks.
“If this is the case, and no accompanying measures are put in place, there is a real risk of bankruptcies in the tourism sector in Belgium, particularly among tour operators,” he warned. “Politicians really need to take this seriously.”
The Brussels Times