Vancouver: Unveiling its plans for the newly created hub at Brussels, Jet Airways said on 6 June 2007 it would operate five flights a day from India to the Belgian capital and provide seamless connections for onward journey to the US and Canada.
The hub would give the airline access to the entire Europe, besides allowing services to North America.
It would focus not only on connecting Indian passengers, but also carry traffic fed by Brussels Airlines from Europe and Africa for onward journey to the US and Canada.
Jet Airways has got ten pairs of slots at the Brussels airport, which is handling only about half of its capacity of over 30 million passengers annually.
“It has got a lot of space and capacity, which we will be using. Since (Belgian carrier) Sabena closed down, the airport was being operated only by the Brussels Airlines and some American carriers. We are the only Indian carrier to be creating such a hub on foreign soil,” Jet Airways Chief Naresh Goyal told PTI in an interview here.
“Our vision is to make Jet Airways match larger carriers like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Through this hub, we will be participating in the European market as well,” he said, revealing for the first time the airline’s plans about the Brussels operations.
While the first of the five flights would be launched from Mumbai to Newark via Brussels on August five, the premier private carrier would start four more flights from Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad to connect New York, Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles by summer next year, Goyal said.
He is in Vancouver to attend the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), of which he is an Executive Member.
Besides the Brussels operations, Jet Airways would also launch a flight to San Fransisco via Shanghai and was in the process of finalising a codeshare deal with Australian carrier Qantas to carry passengers to Australia via Singapore. “We can also connect the Australian traffic to our global network,” he said.
Goyal said the hub in Brussels was a well thought decision as the airports in Delhi and Mumbai would be ready only by 2010 and the problems of space, parking bays and slots would continue to remain. “We cannot put our expansion on hold and therefore decided to move ahead.”
He said Brussels was chosen as it was situated in the centre of Europe, from where the entire continent could be covered in a range of 30 minutes to two hours. While there was a lot of traffic going to Europe and the US-Canada from the Indian subcontinent, there was a lot more travelling beyond to North America from Europe as well. “We wanted to tap that market.”
Moreover, after the closure of Sabena airlines, the Brussels airport was not being used to its full capacity.
“So, the Belgian government came forward and accepted our proposal. It is a glowing example of how a country can support another country’s airline,” Goyal said.
The Belgian government was “supporting us for the entire infrastructure at Brussels airport. With all the support, we will be able to provide onward connections from Brussels in as short a time as 15 minutes to an hour,” he added.
He said the Sabena Flight Academy, which had closed down along with the airline, would be re-activated by Jet Airways to train pilots. “We will use this academy to train the best pilots and engineers even for other big airlines.”