Brussels Airlines: terror attacks stop passenger growth


March figures strongly influenced by events of 22 March

Brussels Airlines’ March passenger figures clearly illustrate the impact of the events of March 22nd followed by the 12-day closure of Brussels Airport, the home base of the Belgian airline. A total of 455,599 passengers flew with Brussels Airlines in March,  which is 19.1% less compared to last year. It is the first time in more than 2,5 years that Brussels Airlines records a passenger decrease.

Up until March 21st Brussels Airlines recorded a passenger increase of 9.6 percent and an increase of its seat load factor by 6.1 percentage points, in line with the growth of the previous months. From March 22nd onwards the figures are heavily impacted by the attacks at Brussels Airport. Due to the events of March 22nd, the rest of the month, which promised to be very busy because of the Easter exodus, no traffic was possible to and from Brussels Airlines’ hub. A limited part of the European flight program was therefore relocated to the regional airports of Liege and Antwerp as from March 24th  and part of the intercontinental flights were organized through the airports of Frankfurt and Zurich. Moreover, Brussels Airlines proactively offered its passengers alternative travel options with other airlines and allowed their customers to cancel or modify their travel plans without any charge. Between the 22nd and 31st of March, Brussels Airlines flew 54,650 passengers to and from these alternative airports. In comparison to that same period last year, when 197,421 passengers travelled to and from Brussels Airport.

March 2016 ended with a passenger decline of 19.1%. In total 385,725 passengers flew on a European flight, 61,292 passengers travelled to Africa and 8,582 passengers flew with Brussels Airlines to New York. The load factor fell by 0.5 percentage points, which resulted in 68.6%.

The cargo activity was obviously heavily influenced by the attacks as well. Until March 21st, the cargo load factor amounted to 69 percentage points. The cargo traffic was largely interrupted after March 22nd.  A total of 2,609 tons of cargo was transported in March, which is a decline of around 21% compared to March 2015.


“As expected, our March figures are very heavily impacted by the events of March 22nd, which took away our main work tool, our home base Brussels Airport, for 12 days. Thanks to the dedication of all Brussels Airlines colleagues, the support of many partners and the flexibility of our guests, however, we were able to partially recover our operations from alternative airports, which was a very complicated logistical task. Between March 24th and April 3rd,  it enabled us to operate 1,010 flights or 38% of our normal flight schedule. Our main focus now is getting our operations back to 100% and to offer our guests a comfortable and smooth travel experience again.”

— Lars Redeligx, Chief Commercial Officer Brussels Airlines

In addition to its scheduled flight activity, Brussels Airlines operates many holiday and group flights for tour operators. Passenger figures for this activity are not included in the figures of this press release.








Month/month difference in %






– 19.1
Available seat-kilometres (m ASK) 1,053.23 1,231.81 – 14.5
Revenue Passenger-kilometres (m RPK) 722.26 850.75 – 15.1
Freight ton-kilometres (m FTK) 10,593 16,531 – 37.7
Overall Load Factor (Passengers & Fret) 53.8% 60.9% – 7.1 pct. points
Passenger Load Factor (PLF) 68.6% 69.1% – 0.5 pct. points

Monday, May 2, 2016