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Fleet Profiles: Brussels Airlines

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Since 2000, there have been some major changes with the Belgium aviation industry.

In 2001, SABENA went bankrupt and ceased trading after a 78 year run as the international pride of Belgium, short lived SN Brussels Airlines rose from the ashes of Sabena, but a merger in 2006 with Virgin Express resulted in the formation of the third Belgian Flag Carrier in less than a decade- the current Brussels Airlines.

SABENA Sud-Aviation Carravelle on display in Brussels, one of few aircraft keeping the legacy of SABENA alive.

The mainline carrier is now an all-Airbus operation, but in the past it had operated Boeing 737-300/-400 inherited from Virgin Express, as well as a large regional fleet of Avro RJ100 from its formation until 2017. CityJet leased Sukhoi SSJ-100 to replace the Avro fleet, but their prolonged operational issues resulted in their quiet withdrawal by January 2019. Flybe also leased two Dash 8 Q-400 for a period of time in the mid-2010’s but they too have been returned to their respective airlines, despite still wearing the basic Brussels livery (images bellow).

A Flybe Dash 8 Q-400 wearing the basic Brussels Airlines livery two years after the airlines contracted lease operations ended.

But history aside, and introductions done. Let’s begin the next- FLEET PROFILE

 

Airbus A319

Carrying 141 passengers on a full load across Europe, the Airbus A319 is the smallest aircraft in the mainline Brussels fleet since the retirement of the Avro RJ-fleet.

The Airbus A319 fleet of Brussels Airlines were all delivered in the early 2000’s. Most are ex-SABENA or SN Brussels Airlines aircraft. Given a majority of the fleet are almost 20 years old, they will most likely be replaced in the next coming years.

The Airbus A319 fleet, of which there are currently 22 in the fleet, carry a unified registration pattern of OO-SSA/SSX. There is one retired air frame, that being 22 year old A319 OO-SSP, retired in October 2015.

OO-SSC is painted up in Star Alliance colours, making it the only A319 in the fleet to carry a special livery.

Airbus A320- standard

The 11-strong standard fleet of Airbus A320 in the Brussels fleet range from aircraft are all second hand aircraft, ranging in age from as old as 17 years old to as young as 9 years old. Non of these A320’s are former SN Brussels or SABENA aircraft (SN did have a fleet of A320 when it went bankrupt). They are from operators that have ranged from Air France, Thomas Cook Belgium, Aeroflot, Air Berlin and Aer Lingus.

The Airbus A320 fleet was brought in from the early 2000’s to add capacity on flights where an A319 is too small but not economic to bring in an A330-200. This also coincided with the Avro RJ-100 retirement, being able to move the A319 fleet to these lower demand flights.

All the Airbus A320 carry 180 passengers in a single cabin layout with a flexible Business Class capacity depending on the flight. A common and competitive practice amongst European airlines, despite various opinions on the matter.

 

Airbus A320- Belgian Icons

Six of the Brussels Airlines A320 fleet are painted up in so-called BELGIAN ICONS to celebrate the pop culture of Belgium.

The following aircraft wear the following liveries:

  • OO-SNA “Red Devils Football Team” livery (red)
  • OO-SNB “Adventures of Tin-Tin” (black)
  • OO-SNC “René Magritte” (black/blue)
  • OO-SND “The Smurfs” (blue)
  • OO-SNE “Pieter Bruegel” (white/sky blue)
  • OO-SNF “Tomorrow Land” (purple)

These planes are sort after by spotters across Europe, their unique colourful liveries make them eye candy for anyone with a camera.

With any luck, and with the 100th Anniversary of SABENA’s founding in 2023, hopefully Brussels Airlines will do a SABENA heritage livery to celebrate its rich history and make a good round off for their Belgian Icons.

 

Airbus A330-200/A330-300

The Airbus long haul fleet is going through a change at the moment, thanks to the recent influence of Lufthansa, adding Brussels Airlines into its portfolio of airlines.

The four remaining Airbus A330-200, which are all second hand, coming from the likes of Lufthansa, Swiss International and Sabena, contain a two-cabin layout able to take 264 passengers in 22 business class seats and 240 economy class seats. These aircraft will soon be retired in favour of more second hand Airbus A330-300 taken from Lufthansa.

The Airbus A330-300 fleet will remain the only Brussels Airlines aircraft on the long-haul routes across the United States and Africa.

Out of the eleven current aircraft in the fleet, ten aircraft are 15 to 9 years old. The sole exception is OO-SWF which is 24 years old, and most likely to be replaced by newer aircraft.

OO-SWF is one of five Airbus A330-300 that arrived in the fleet in March 2007, when the airline formed. The aircraft are ex-Air Inter and ex-SABENA aircraft making them over 25 years old and coming to the end of their cycle-life before major work needs doing to keep them flying. These aircraft carry 284 passengers in Business Class and Economy Class cabins.

The newer aircraft, which are 15-9 years old, have three cabins, more akin to the Lufthansa group airline brands on their long haul fleet. 30 Business Class seats are configured with the rest of the 295 strong cabin made up of 28 premium economy cabin and the rest of the 225 seats for Economy Class.

 

And with that we conclude this FLEET PROFILE of Brussels Airlines. Stay in the loop for the next edition which will be coming to this site very soon!

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