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Brussels Airlines looking at Airbus A321neo and A350 for fleet expansion plans 

Brussels Airlines is reportedly considering its options for a possible fleet expansion plan. In contention for any future order being placed in the near future is the Airbus A321neo for short-haul operations while the A350 would potentially be added to the fleet for longer routes. Meanwhile, the company is said to have ruled out adding the A330neo to its fleet, citing environmental considerations at its home base of Brussels-Zaventem Airport (BRU). 

In an interview with German-language publication aeroTELEGRAPH, the current CEO at Brussels Airlines, Dorothea Von Boxberg, explained the rationale behind the current thinking at the carrier. 

The Airbus A321neo is seen as an ideal addition to the fleet to be used on short-haul business-led flights such as London to Brussels and more leisure-based routes from its home base to destinations such as Malaga (Spain) and Nice (France).  

According to Von Boxberg, the A321neo is preferred over the A321XLR due to the limited cargo payload offered by the latter, which is restricted due to the presence of additional fuel tanks. Cargo is a key revenue earner for the carrier, particularly to many cities in Africa that receive regular Brussels Airlines scheduled services. Additionally, passengers to African destinations have a tenancy to carry additional hold luggage, which also bolsters the airline’s ancillary revenue figures. 


Looking toward the long-haul network, the airline has been considering both the Boeing 787 and the A350. While the 787 is operated by fellow Lufthansa Group carriers Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, SWISS operates the A350-900, as does Lufthansa for its very long-range flights. Choosing the A350 would lead to certain synergies within the Group, according to Von Boxberg.  

Additionally, however, the A350 is reported to be the favored option as the type offers better alignment with the strict noise restrictions imposed at Brussels Airport. Such a choice would enable the carrier to potentially operate later flights at the airport, whereas other types may not.  

Recent environmental regulations being introduced at Brussels Airport pose a significant limitation on night-time landings. This restriction will apply to any landings between the hours of 01:00 and 05:00 on weekends (Saturday to Monday) and is due to come into effect in 2026. The airport has applied to extend these hours further in subsequent years.  

These restrictions effectively rule the Airbus A330neo out of contention due to its noise footprint on landing. This is despite the older A330-300 forming the current backbone of the carrier’s long-haul fleet, of which the company currently has nine. 

Tom Buysse / Shutterstock

In addition to considering new aircraft for its fleet, Brussels Airlines is continuing to expand its network both across Europe and into its stronghold of Africa. With the imminent arrival of the carrier’s tenth A330, the airline is set to relaunch its route from Brussels to Nairobi, Kenya in the summer of 2024. Elsewhere, the addition of new intra-European routes for part of the expansion strategy, to destinations such as such as Krakow, Poland. 

In addition to its nine A330s (soon to be ten), the carrier already operates an all-Airbus fleet comprising 15 A319s, 16 A320s, and three A320neos.   

The post Brussels Airlines looking at Airbus A321neo and A350 for fleet expansion plans  appeared first on AeroTime.

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