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Bye bye Brussels! Singapore Airlines abandons its only 2020 route launch

In 2003, SARS spelled the end of Singapore Airlines flights to and from Brussels. 17 years later, COVID-19 has scuppered the route's resumption.

Brussels (SS)

One thing not high on the agenda for most airlines at the moment is new route launches, given the severity and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak across the world. One ‘new’ route that may have slipped your mind though is in fact Singapore Airlines’ only planned addition of 2020 to its regular network – Brussels in Belgium.

This service was set to kick off at the start of the northern winter season on 25th October 2020, four times weekly using the carrier’s 3-class Airbus A350 aircraft.

Though no formal announcement has been forthcoming, Singapore Airlines has withdrawn its entire Brussels service from the reservations system and emailed affected customers to inform them that their flight has been cancelled.

Brussels was actually a resumption

The Belgian capital was in fact previously served by Singapore Airlines regularly over the years, starting in 1979.

The route was cut in April 2003, somewhat ironically, as one of the airline’s many cancellations during the 2003/04 SARS outbreak, along with cities like Berlin, Vienna, Chicago and Madrid.

SQ A350 Taxi DME (Maxim Grohotov SS)
Singapore Airlines had planned to restart Brussels flights using Airbus A350 aircraft. (Photo: Maxim Grohotov)

The relaunch of the route came at an announcement held in the Crowne Plaza hotel Brussels Airport, where a joint press event was held with Singapore Airlines Regional Vice President for Europe Lee Sek Eng and the CEO of Brussels Airport Arnaud Feist.

Brussels was set to be the airline’s 14th European destination and we covered both the launch announcement and the excellent Business Class award seat availability loaded at the time.

The schedule (that wasn’t)

Here’s how Singapore Airlines planned to operate its flights to and from Brussels, from 25th October 2020:

Flight From / To Aircraft Days
SQ304 SIN2355 – BRU0650* 359 ··345·7
SQ303 BRU1120 – SIN0655* 359 1··456·

* Next day

BRU Airport Overhead (Tom Dhaenens)
Singapore Airlines was proposing to fly to and from Brussels Airport four times per week. (Photo: Tom Dhaenens)

The route was also set to capitalise on a large bank of connections with Star Alliance carrier Brussels Airlines, including routes within Europe and to the USA and Africa.

What happened?

Initially once the COVID-19 situation began to develop and flight schedules were being cut, Singapore Airlines blocked out revenue and award tickets on its new Brussels service apart from full-fare (Flexi) options in all cabins, a typical precursor to a route being culled.

From the start of the summer 2021 season however, availability in all the regular fare ‘buckets’ was available as usual, including saver options and award seats.

That suggested a postponed startup was initially the plan, however Singapore Airlines has now wiped all Brussels availability and flight schedules from the booking system.

Canx

As we previously mentioned, those with bookings have now been informed of the route cancellation.

Where is Singapore Airlines still flying in Europe?

Singapore Airlines has maintained only three of its 13 European routes through the COVID-19 pandemic – London, Frankfurt and Zurich.

Three more European cities have been re-added this month – Amsterdam, Barcelona and Copenhagen. They will also be served in July 2020.

That still leaves seven of the airline’s usual European links unserved until at least August 2020:

  • Dusseldorf
  • Manchester
  • Milan
  • Munich
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Stockholm

Given the travel restrictions in place, some of these routes may well not see passenger service resumption before the end of the northern summer season in October 2020.

It would therefore be ridiculous to launch a new European destination, Brussels in this case, when you hadn’t even finished returning to your existing ones!

A summer 2021 launch was the best we could hope for in this case, but this too now seems to be off the cards with SIA canning the Brussels route until further notice.

Summary

It’s “bye bye, Brussels” before we even got to say “hi again, Brussels”, though to be fair this route cancellation is far from unexpected given the effects of COVID-19 on international air travel.

It is slightly ironic that Brussels was culled from the SIA schedules in 2003 due to the impact of the SARS outbreak, and it’s resurgence is now being quashed 17 years later by COVID-19.

Brussels

Nonetheless Singapore Airlines still maintains 13 cities on its European route map, though exactly when the remaining seven of these not currently seeing any regular service will be reinstated is anyone’s guess.

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

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