Air Belgium’s Inaugural Flight Touches Down in the Mother City
- In 2021, Belgium was the Western Cape’s 7th largest European export market and South Africa’s 10th largest trading partner in terms of the rand value of exports.
- Brussels is the biggest unserved city in Europe for Cape Town, with over 35 000 passengers flying between the two destinations in 2019.
- Two-way passenger traffic showed a 50% recovery for the first six months of 2022, with 8 300 passengers flying between Brussels and Cape Town.
- For the first six months of 2022, 500 tonnes of air cargo were flown between the two destinations.
It is expected that the Air Belgium service will add an additional air cargo capacity of 1 500 tonnes to and from South Africa during the first season of operation.
Today, Air Belgium’s inaugural flight from Brussels touched down at 11:00 am at the Cape Town International Airport, marking the beginning of the airline’s seasonal flights to South Africa.
Welcomed by a cheery crowd comprising of Wesgro’s Cape Town Air Access team, representatives from the Western Cape government & the City of Cape Town, representatives from ACSA and Air Belgium and many others – the leisure-oriented Belgian airline will operate two tag flights to Cape Town via Johannesburg from Brussels per week (BRU-JHB-CPT-JHB-BRU).
The new route will be operated by the Airbus A330neo with a 286 seat capacity in a three-class layout (30 comfortable lie-flat business class, 21 premium-class, and 235 economy-class seats) and consumes on average 25% less fuel compared to previous generation aircraft, making the flight more cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
In 2019, two-way international passenger volumes between Belgium and Cape Town exceeded 35,000 passengers, amounting to a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10% each year between 2015 and 2019. In the first six months of 2022, two-way passenger traffic showed a 50% recovery rate when compared to 2019, with 8 300 passengers flying between Brussels and Cape Town. In addition, a total of 500 metric tonnes of air cargo was transported between Belgium and the Western Cape in the first six months of 2022, representing a 53% recovery rate when compared to 2019. In terms of exports, Belgium is the Western Cape’s 7th largest European export market, with R2.61bn worth of goods exported in 2021, up 81.5% from 2020.
With the Johannesburg and Cape Town routes currently being the airline’s only continental Africa flights, Brussels has historically been Cape Town’s second largest unserved market and the largest unserved European market based on two-way international passenger volumes. The additional capacity is expected to offer remarkable potential for growth in business and leisure travel between these destinations for international visitors and locals alike.
Mark Maclean, Regional General Manager at Cape Town International Airport, commented: “Cape Town International Airport warmly welcomes Air Belgium and passengers to our airport at the start of what promises to be a bumper summer season. Together with all our partners, we remain focussed on ensuring that passengers experience a reliable, world-class service when they visit us.”
Wesgro CEO and the Official Spokesperson for Cape Town Air Access, Wrenelle Stander, said: “We are pleased to welcome Air Belgium to Cape Town. Brussels is the largest unserved city in Europe for the Cape Town market and having a direct connection is extremely valuable for business and tourism. We also look forward to the increased cargo potential offered by the route as it is expected that the service will add over 1 500 tonnes of cargo capacity in the first season. We wish Air Belgium all the best with this new route and look forward to building increased tourism and trade relations between our two destinations.”
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, Alderman James Vos, said: “Through Air Access, we are connecting Cape Town International Airport with more and more key source markets. And this is why this City government proudly funds this programme. This unique project brings together the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Provincial Government, the Airports Company of South Africa, Cape Town Tourism, Wesgro, and private partners for a collaborative effort to take this city and province to the world. Air Access demonstrates the power of partnerships. Enhancing Cape Town’s connectivity to other hubs across the globe improves the city’s competitiveness, leading to more trade, investment and economic growth. During my engagements with Air Belgium and the Consul-General of Belgium, we discussed the many benefits of this route between our two regions when it comes to travel and trade opportunities. Improved connectivity in air cargo and travellers enhances the level of productivity, opens up new markets, boosts exports and increases tourism.”
“The news of more flights direct to Cape Town is so very welcome and is yet more information pointing to a bumper upcoming summer season. I am very pleased to be able to welcome Air Belgium’s direct flights to Cape Town, which can only bring benefits of increased tourism and trade opportunities between the Western Cape and Belgium,” said Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger.