Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

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b-west

Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by b-west » 15 Jul 2014, 16:51

Brussels Airlines has announced its new strategy for its short haul, European network. Basically there'll be no less than four different classes on board:
With check&go, Brussels Airlines will more than ever appeal to the price-sensitive consumer, who is looking for a cheap flight, who travels without checked luggage, who is willing to buy a snack or drink on board and who is satisfied with a ticket without flexibility to change. Check&go return tickets are very competitive and will be available from 69 euro, taxes and fees included.

light&relax, available from 109 euro (return) is a travel product offering excellent value for money to passengers who travel with checked luggage, who want to choose their seat on the plane during reservation and who want a modifiable ticket.

With flex&fast, an upgrade of the existing b.flex economy+ product, Brussels Airlines wants to better respond to the needs of the business traveler who doesn’t want to lose time at the airport (check-in priority, fast lane at security), nor on board (seats in the front of the aircraft), who want to be able to modify their tickets and enjoy a meal and drinks on board.

biz&class is Brussels Airlines' new business class product. Biz&class passengers will enjoy a premium service, including access to the soon to be opened new Brussels Airlines lounges at Brussels Airport, a new gourmet & fine dining experience on board which can be selected during reservation, more luggage allowance and of course advantages such as a free middle seat.
So looks like they're creating a class below b.light and also promise to improve the b.flex and business class product.

Here's the link to the press release

Any thoughts? Good thing the Avro is on its way out, cause so many classes on such a small plane might be troublesome... Though I guess the difference between light&relax and check&go will really only be visible at checkin, not really on board

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by sn26567 » 15 Jul 2014, 18:05

I was at the press conference of Messrs. Gustin and Redeligx this afternoon.

The new product check&go is obviously created to compete with the LCCs, but without sacrificing on quality. For example it will still be possible to book a seat free of charge 24 hours in advance. And a free e-newspaper will also be available. Meals can be pre-ordered or purchased on board.

The quality of the three other products will also be improved.

I will report later on other topics developed during the press conference.
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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by airazurxtror » 15 Jul 2014, 18:10

Brussels Airlines will thus be a hybrid airline ... wonders will never cease !
On all European flights as from 1st september, basic return tickets from 69 euros, taxes and fees included.
Sixty-nine euros return is a price that begins to be reasonable - but it remains to be seen what exactly means the "from".
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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by Flanker2 » 15 Jul 2014, 18:22

So much fuss for so little. :roll:
Indeed Tolipanebas, they're going to kick out FR out of the market with this :roll:

69 euro return isn't bad, but fare availability has always been the issue with SN's cheapest fares.
So it's useless to offer 69 euro fares if the customers can't find them.
It's been hard enough to find the b.light fares at 99 return, what's it going to be with this one?

After 5 minutes worth of trying, the customers will give up and move on to FR's website.

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by sn26567 » 15 Jul 2014, 18:25

If you book the day or the week before your flight, there is little chance that you will get that price. But 2 or 3 months in advance, chances are big that you can make it. Bernard Gustin said that he will make sure that a sufficient number of seats can be purchased at the low price. The sales will start mid-August for flights from 1 September.
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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by cathay belgium » 15 Jul 2014, 18:25

Hi,

Sorry Andre, Flanker is 100 percent correct this time..
Indeed, try to find a blight ticket now from 99? euros to BHX/GVA/BCN for in ten months time ?
Never found ANY ! ( last 24 months ... ) ( and I search a lot ! )
Reasonable LCC fares, I still search for them.. hard to find on their website..
Dayreturns impossible... so far for the LCC fare segment for SN, lots of blabla I guess..
If they won't offer them, only on the worst hours and destinations why should anyone bother anyway... when the competition is better known and their fares are faster found...
I guess they will start a fight they can never win with these small steps..
Their fares are still much higher then real LCC, a withdrawal to 69 euros won't make that much sense..
But as long as it isn't september 1st... I live again with full hopes :)
If there is any I will be one of the first to book and to give it a try...

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by OO-ITR » 15 Jul 2014, 18:30

airazurxtror wrote:- but it remains to be seen what exactly means the "from".
does ring a bell doesn't it? :lol:

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by sean1982 » 15 Jul 2014, 18:35

Guess they have some extra capacity that needs to be dumped in order to make at least a bit of money from it.
It will chase away current customers (who don't wanna fly an LCC) and it will not win over any LCC passengers (as the perception of SN will always remain "high fare")

Worst idea in history of bad ideas. :roll: A focus on premium and long haul would have been far more beneficial.
Because when it comes to trying to price FR out out of the market? Guess who play that game the longest?
A punch in the face? More like reaching out and not even touching by far.

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by Inquirer » 15 Jul 2014, 18:42

OO-ITR wrote:
airazurxtror wrote:- but it remains to be seen what exactly means the "from".
does ring a bell doesn't it? :lol:
It does, but isn't this the same with every airline, especially from BRU?
Even low priced airlines aren't exactly cheap at BRU: you easily come in at 75 euro return at least, all without luggage of course, so 69 euro seems to be very competitive indeed to me?

Of course it all comes down to availability, but that too is the same everywhere.
Have had to book easyjet tickets to BSL at well over 200 euro return quite often too, for instance.

As to the 3 types of economy tickets:
this has germanwings written all over it, but then that needn't be a bad thing.
Interesting to see how they will manage all the optional flexibility on their website, as you'll somehow have to be able to book lugage, seating, and different food options, if I understood it well?
Looking especially forward to the improved à la carte catering! :)

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by Boeing767copilot » 15 Jul 2014, 18:50

IMO nothing more than a (bad) marketing strategy from Bulls***t Airlines. Tell me: what's new? NOTHING! :lol:

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by Inquirer » 15 Jul 2014, 19:03

Whatever marketing strategy they follow these days, they seem to be having commercial success with it, because their passenger numbers are reportedly growing quite spectacularly since this year:
viewtopic.php?f=31&t=53890
it's something which I have noticed myself as a frequent flyer too, BTW.

What I do wonder is how they are going to combine a low cost product with an even improved business class product all into one brand? There's only so much you can do under one brand and that's a critical remark which goes for ryanair, as well as Bru.air of course: is this where the eurowings stuff will come into play, once fully rolled out?

Definitely looking forward to your factual report, André!

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by OO-ITR » 15 Jul 2014, 19:08

Boeing767copilot wrote:Tell me: what's new?
- new class Check&Go : booking class without luggage
- renewed catering offering with the possibility to order beforehand
- possibility in Light&Relax to take an earlier flight
...

Why don't you try and read the press release? :lol:

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by Flanker2 » 15 Jul 2014, 20:04

I see an opportunity with this new fare class, but unfortunately I don't see it ever be used by SN:
That opportunity is in the last minutes market booked between 5 to 2 days before flight.

What I mean is:
-FR and friends are very expensive if booked last minute.
-SN and friends are very expensive if booked last minute.
->The big difference between the two is that FR's plane is already 95% full by that time and SN's is 70%-80% full.

Ok sure, last minute tickets are expensive for a reason: airlines try to take advantage of the people who absolutely need to be on those flights. At the same time however, they're missing out on a huge market of potential travellers: the last minute leisure travellers who are looking for a spontaneous trip as a form of impulse purchase.

I can see a selection of routes where this should be possible, depending on the booking profile of the passengers, especially the leisure routes where they're competing right now against FR and VY.
Also, if the pattern of last minutes offered is random, this would prevent that people wait on purpose for the last minutes.

On those last minutes, if we go by the current fares, FR/VY will be cheaper than SN even if all will have sky-high fares. So last minuite travellers will be more likely to book FR/VY anyway and they're going to cash in those high-yield pax.
If SN drops 69 euro fares on those routes as last minutes, FR/VY can't match SN's fares and will loose all that last minute demand to SN. Also, pax who are already booked with FR/VY in the weeks before, will see that they would have done a better deal with SN and will check out SN's website more often next time.

But if they play it out as they are doing now, I don't see that working out for them.
Also, traffic may be increasing on routes in competition with FR/VY, but it's not because these bring additional pax to SN. SN is now forced to play in a yield category below of their comfort zone.
At those fares there is more demand, yes, but the yields are much lower. If they have to sell tickets 30-40% cheaper, then a 10% increase in traffic won't help.

Gustin and friends are promising availability, but I seem to remember that they did the same with their 99 EUR fares. Good luck finding them. Also as Sean points out, even if they offer these fares at 69 EUR to early bookers, chances are that FR will offer lower fares and wait SN out.

I don't think that this warranted a press conference.
It's free publicity alright, but Andre and the other journalists wasted their time.

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by sn26567 » 15 Jul 2014, 20:24

Report of the Brussels Airlines press conference of 15 July 2014

Bernard Gustin, CEO, and Lars Redeligx, Chief Commercial Officer of Brussels Airlines were introduced by Geert Sciot, Vice-President Communication.
From left to right, Bernard Gustin, Lars Redeligx, Geert Sciot
From left to right, Bernard Gustin, Lars Redeligx, Geert Sciot
B. Gustin made a history of the strategy after the arrival of Ryanair at Brussels. In December 2014, the LCCs offered 8.8 million seats at BRU, vs 7.5 million for Brussels Airlines. SN had to take a decision: shrink or expand. Of course, the second option was chosen in January 2014: 400,000 extra seats, 9 new destinations, 2 new A319s. And a new website! In addition, a new loyalty programme would be introduced by the end of the year for passengers travelling mainly to European destinations.

The strategy paid off, with positive feedback: more passengers (called "guests" in the SN vocabulary), and increased competitiveness: SN starts to be considered in the low fare segment by price-sensitive customers. The results are also positive: 10% more 'guests' in the January-June period (11.5% more in June alone), load factor increased by 2.8% despite the increased capacity, successful new leisure destinations and even increase of he number of pax on destinations in competition with LCCs. The trend continues: 14.5% more bookings for the months to come.
IMG_6922.JPG
Does this mean that the quality goes down? No: SN does not want to compromise on service and price and will offer a good service for a low cost price. This is summarised in a mission statement: "To be the most personal airline, bringing people together and making travel a pleasure". What does it mean for the customer? An even more personal service, a greater choice in term of prices and products, a more diversified network (business and leisure).

This strategy is enhanced by a new motto:
IMG_6926.JPG
Hence there will be (from 1 September) four classes of service, as explained by L. Redeligx:
IMG_6925.JPG
Check@Go, a new class of service to compete with the LCCs, with prices starting at €69 return, offering:
  • 12 kg hand baggage + 1 carry-on
  • Free seat selection 24 hr before departure
  • buy-on-board with pre-ordered meal option
  • Free e-newspapers
In brief, the low fares without the stress of the LCCs.

Light@Relax, an improved b.light starting at €109 return, offering:
  • Advanced seat reservation
  • Possibility to switch to n earlier flight on the same day
  • 1 piece of checked baggage 23 kg + 12 kg hand baggage + 1 carry-on
  • Renewed buy-on-board selection, complemented by a pre-ordered meal option
Flex@Fast, an improved b.flex with:
  • Full flexibility
  • Priority check-in
  • Fast lane
  • Priority boarding
  • Preferred seating
  • Upgraded catering concept
Bizz@class, the luxurious business class, offering:
  • A la carte gourmet meal (pre-order possible)
  • New lounge ta Brussels Airport, opening in October
  • Full flexibility
  • Priority at check-in, security, boarding and baggage delivery
  • Premium seating with free middle seat
  • Two pieces of 23 kg checked baggage + two pieces of hand baggage
The sales of the new products will start in Mid-August, after the travel agencies have been drilled. The new classes of service will be effective on 1 September.

On my question about how this new strategy fits into the Lufthansa low-cost WINGS project, B. Gustin replied that the new strategy had been discussed with Lufthansa and has their full approval. The experience gained by SN in the very competitive Brussels market will be useful to LH in its WINGS project. But there will not be a WINGS-type airline (Eurowings or Germanwings) in Brussels, because BRU is a hub with many connecting passengers, and not only a point-to-point airport: SN will remain thus at the helm.

On other topics, and particularly the long-haul market (not the subject of the conference), B. Gustin said that Washington did not require a second Star Alliance aircraft during the winter, but well during the next summer season. Thus, an aircraft can be made available for East Africa (Nairobi, Kigali, Bujumbura) where there is a real demand, especially with many customers connecting from North America.
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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by airazurxtror » 15 Jul 2014, 21:20

In brief, the low fares without the stress of the LCCs.

I'm sorry : what stress ?
I bet Gustin has never taken a Ryanair flight and doesn't know what he speaks of.

And why that press conference now if the check@go fares will only be bookable in a month from now ?
To give people time to forget it ?
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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by convair » 15 Jul 2014, 21:30

Nice report. Thanks André.
At least SN is trying a few things as a reaction to the LCCs' threat as they perceive it.
Will it be successful; will it be enough? We'll have to wait and see.
On the fleet renewal/expansion, I do'nt expect anything new this year; it looks like they will now see how the winter season is doing before taking other steps, both on short/medium haul and long haul.

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by Inquirer » 15 Jul 2014, 21:48

sn26567 wrote:B. Gustin replied that the new strategy had been discussed with Lufthansa and has their full approval. The experience gained by SN in the very competitive Brussels market will be useful to LH in its WINGS project. But there will not be a WINGS-type airline (Eurowings or Germanwings) in Brussels, because BRU is a hub with many connecting passengers, and not only a point-to-point airport: SN will remain thus at the helm.
Thanks for that question!
Do I interpret the reply correctly: eurowings will take to CRL (or other regional airports in Belgium)?
It would fit my interpretation of the Lufthansa press brief in which they never explicitly mentioned to focus on BRU, but rather Belgium.

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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by Apuneger » 15 Jul 2014, 22:05

Thanks for the factual report, André!

I admire the fact that SN is taking a stand and is fighting back against the "legacy LCC's". One can only assume that the rocket scientists at SN have done their homework correct and management is making the right decision in positioning the airline more and more as a LCC.

Guests will definitely have more flexibility and a broader choice. It all depends on the intention of your trip: business or pleasure; day return, short break or a long stay abroad.

The Check&Go definitely seems like a good option for daytrips on short haul destinations (at least for me it does). However, as some have already mentioned, first let's see how many seats will be bookable with this fare.

Can't wait to see the first results & analysis of this new short haul product, within a few months from now...
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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by sn26567 » 15 Jul 2014, 22:49

Eurowings as a player at Brussels Airport, next to Brussels Airlines, is still on the table, says Lufthansa. This contradicts what Bernard Gustin said this afternoon.
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Re: Brussels Airlines announces new short haul product

Post by convair » 15 Jul 2014, 23:24

Looks like Gustin spoke too fast. It's certainly too early for LH to discard any possibility.

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