Brussels Airlines relaunches its Bristol route starting September

Brussels Airlines has announced the relaunch of its service to Bristol, previously operated by wet lease partner Flybmi until February this year.

Starting September 1, Brussels Airlines will initially operate the Bristol route six times a week. From October 27 the airline will increase its flight frequencies to 12 times weekly. Flights will be operated using a CRJ900 by CityJet on behalf of Brussels Airlines.

Nigel Scott, Business Development Director, Bristol Airport, said: ‘We are delighted Brussels Airlines will be returning to Bristol Airport and operating flights between Bristol and Brussels, the route will also offer extensive onward connectivity options for passengers. The service will appeal to passengers whether travelling for business or leisure.

‘It offers opportunities for inbound visitors using Bristol as a gateway to the region. With frequent travel connections, inbound tourists will be able to experience the vibrant cities of Bristol and Bath, and the host of iconic tourist attractions and beautiful coastline we have in the region. We look forward to developing our close partnership with Brussels Airlines further in the future.’

Designated the City of Film by UNESCO in 2017, Bristol is an artistic city with a great number of museums, theatres, live music gigs as well as impressive street art. Besides the creative and media industry, Bristol is also known for its expertise in aerospace, with a big airbus facility in Filton.

The relaunch of the Bristol route comes after multiple airlines ceased operations to Bristol since the bankruptcy of FlyBMI in February 2019. Brussels Airlines is the first Lufthansa Group airline to restart the route.

Andreas Koester senior director sales for the UK, Ireland and Iceland, Lufthansa Group, said, ‘The new connection between Bristol and Brussels is an important expansion to the Lufthansa Group network in the UK, where we offer flights to the European mainland out of 12 different airports.

‘With two flights daily out of Bristol, Brussels Airlines offers point-to-point passengers a flexible schedule and create a broad range of possibilities for passengers connecting to one of the many other destinations in our network.’

Brussels Airlines now connects five cities in the UK with Brussels, the capital of Europe. Next to Bristol, the airline’s network also includes Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.

VLM Airlines launches new Antwerp service from Aberdeen

Belgium airline VLM Airlines has recently launched direct flights from Aberdeen to its hub airport, Antwerp.

Located in the northern region of Belgium, Antwerp is the capital city of Flanders region. In addition to this direct service on a Monday, there will be flights on Wednesdays and Fridays making a 30 minute stopover in Birmingham. Flights can be booked at

Carol Benzie, Managing Director at Aberdeen Airport, said ‘The brand new route to Antwerp with VLM airlines is a fantastic addition to our current scheduled services. Antwerp is ideally located within the Flanders region, 30 minutes from Brussels and with easy access to the surrounding important industries which are mutually beneficial for our two regions. Antwerp itself is a hidden gem, it has a reputation as the centre of the diamond trade but the city also has beautiful architecture and a vibrant nightlife which makes it ideal for a city break. We look forward to working with VLM Airlines and wish them every success with the route.’

Konstantijn Huys, Commerical Director of VLM said: ‘We are very excited to connect Aberdeen with Antwerp, which was picked as one of the Top 10 Best Cities 2018 by Lonely Planet, one of the most renowned travel guides in the world. Antwerp has so much to offer. The attractive architecture ranges from medieval buildings like the impressive town hall and square, to the magnificent central station or MAS, the remarkable town museum, to numerous Art Nouveau gems in between. With its stylish buildings to well-dressed window displays, Belgium’s most important economic centre is definitely a good-looking city’

‘This accolade isn’t new as it was one of the greatest, richest cities in all of Europe in the 1500’s. A century later, the Flemish Baroque painters Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony Van Dyck called Antwerp their home. In more recent years, the artists of note are fashion designers. This city is home to world-renowned shopping and a centuries-old diamond trade. We hope to welcome many Scottish passengers, whether for business purposes or leisure, on our flights.’

After an absence of more than nine years, VLM Airlines began flying on the historic route between Antwerp Airport and London City Airport in October 2017. VLM currently operates scheduled European services from Birmingham and London City.

bmi regional to launch new Newcastle-Brussels flight

UK-based airline, bmi regional, is set to launch its new jet service to Brussels, which starts on March 3.

The new route from Newcastle Airport will connect North East travellers to Belgium when it begins in five weeks’ time, with fares from £76 per person one way. In addition to benefiting thousands of North East travellers heading to Belgium, the service is also expected to create a positive impact for the regional economy through inbound tourism.

Cathal O’Connell, CEO at bmi regional, said: ‘This is our first route from Newcastle International and we’re delighted to provide the only direct flight for travellers from the North East of England to the Belgian capital.

‘Brussels has so much to offer for leisure travellers such as a vibrant cultural offering and beautiful surroundings such as the Grand Place – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and traditional Flemish houses. As well as Brussels itself, travellers can make use of the excellent Belgian rail services running from Brussels Airport to reach Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp with ease.’

Dave Laws, chief executive at Newcastle International Airport, said: ‘The new route is already proving popular with both leisure and business passengers. Belgium is an interesting country to visit with much to see and do. There is far more to Belgium than just delicious chocolate and great beers.’

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said; ‘The growing number of airlines choosing Newcastle International Airport signals a real confidence both in the airport and the destination. bmi regional’s new Brussels flight is positive news for the tourism sector and the business community.

‘NewcastleGateshead and the wider region remains an attractive destination for city break visitors and those interested in doing business here. bmi regional’s new double daily service will gather a lot of support from businesses here in the North East and in Belgium.

‘It’s extremely encouraging to welcome a new airline and a brand new route that will continue growth in inbound tourism in NewcastleGateshead and the North East.’

bmi regional offers a full in-flight service including complimentary food and drinks on board, as well as allowing 20kg of checked baggage per person and 30 minute check-in at airports.

Ryanair to cut Belgium flights over local air tax

Ryanair has threatened to cut services to and from Belgium’s Charleroi Airport after the local Walloon government decided to impose a EUR3 tax on airfares.

The tax will be effective from January 1, following a decision by the Walloon administration, but subject to approval by the central government in Brussels.

Ryanair said that it would cut almost one in five services if the levy is approved, resulting in one million fewer passengers. Ryanair, the biggest airline operator in the southern Wallonia region, and the single biggest operator at Charleroi, also claimed the move would result in 1,000 job losses. The carrier presently operates more than 80 percent of services at Charleroi, carrying 5.35 million passengers last year.

‘Studies have demonstrated the damage caused to traffic and jobs by passenger taxes, especially in Germany, Ireland and the UK,’ a Ryanair spokesman said, adding that Ryanair would call for the plans to be scrapped.

Jean-Jacques Cloquet, the head of Charleroi airport, said he could not comprehend the local government decision, adding: ‘It could do a lot of damage to the Charleroi region.’

‘For me, it’s not a good decision,’ he said, adding that he expected the central government will block the tax.

However, Andre Antoine, the Wallonia budget minister, claimed that Ryanair makes large profits and a EUR3 levy on airfares from the region would not hit traffic.

Ryanair has been operating to Charleroi since 1997, and the airport was the carrier’s first base on the Continent. The airport reportedly receives substantial grants from the local government, with Brussels Airlines claiming last year that Charleroi receives a EUR12 subsidy per passenger.

Earlier this month, the European Commission announced plans to slash government subsidies to regional airports.


Ryanair launches Montenegro flights

Ryanair, the Ireland-based low-cost airline, has launched its first flights to the former Yugoslavian state, Montenegro.

The addition of Montenegro to the airline’s schedules means that it now operates services to 29 countries. Initially, Montenegro will only be serviced from Belgium, with four weekly flights between the two countries’ capital cities, Brussels and Podgorica, commencing in June. However, it has already announced that it plans further development in the country, with new routes to the Montenegrin city of Tivat set to commence in June of next year.

Robin Kiely, a spokesman for Ryanair, said, ‘Ryanair is delighted to launch its first flights to and from Montenegro at Podgorica, with one new route to and from Brussels Charleroi, commencing on 20th June, as Ryanair expands its route network to 29 countries across Europe and North Africa.!

‘Montenegrin visitors and consumers can now beat the recession and travel on Ryanair’s ultra-low fares with no fuel surcharge guaranteed and Ryanair’s new Podgorica route will deliver over 10,000 passengers per annum with further growth planned, including new routes to and from Tivat in summer 2014.’

Montenegro has a coastline on the Adriatic Sea and is bordered by four other former Yugoslav states; Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo, as well as Albania to the south. The country’s popularity as a tourist destination is on the increase, aided by its 183 miles of picturesque coast – 45 miles of which is beach – and a number of ancient towns that have retained their charm over the centuries. It is also home to the Tara River Canyon, one of the three deepest canyons in Europe.

City Breaks: Brussels

Brussels is the political capital of Europe but behind the politics of the European Union’s centre is a vibrant city that welcomes millions of tourists every year. Holidays to Brussels are simple with the Euro Star. You can simply catch the train at St Pancras International in London and arrives into Brussels Midi less than 2 hours later.

Today Brussels is still a testament to its history, as many of the medieval streets, lively squares and beautiful buildings have remained intact. Brussels provides a fascinating meeting point between the last millennium and modern day Europe.

History and culture

There is plenty to see and experience when you arrive in Brussels. Why not visit the European Parliament building and the newly opened Parlamentarium visitors centre. It boasts the most comprehensive interactive view of Europe via a vast 3D lighting installation representing a shifting map of Europe and a 360° surround-screen digital projection of the hemicycle (parliamentary chamber). There is also an interactive virtual trip through Europe to discover each Member State and a video wall with messages from Members of the European Parliament.

If politics and the European Union are not for you, there is the Atomium architectural museum. This is Brussels’ most popular attraction due to its unique design based on the model of an elementary iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. There is also the mini map of Europe nearby as well where you can see the great monuments of European cities recreated in spectacular detail.

Food and drink

Brussels is also famous for its food, with hundreds of restaurants and cafés. Belgium is famous for chocolate and there are many chocolate factories that you can take a tour of should you want to indulge your sweet tooth. There are even some that include a workshop where visitors can make their own chocolate.

Belgium is also known for brewing beer and there are many breweries that also offer tours and tastings. There are also complete beer tours around the city if you like spending the day drinking different beers in all quarters of the historic city.

City breaks in Brussels are proving popular with British tourists because they can be done inexpensively and without the need to fly to the destination. Many people do not like to fly, but still want to have the experience of going abroad and Belgium is located perfectly to do just that.

Great Hotels of the World Adds New Hotel in Brussels

Great Hotels of the World, a collection of premier hotels worldwide, has added a new member, the Thon Hotel EU, in Brussels, Belgium.

The new Thon Hotel EU is located centrally, in the city’s European district, and is only 15 minutes from the airport by car. It opens with 405 guestrooms with contemporary designs, and 37 spacious one to three bedroom apartments. Business travellers will be able to make use the meeting facilities of the hotel, which includes 10 multipurpose conference rooms, ideal for gala dinners, conferences, weddings and parties. Leisure travellers will find that the hotel is located near to the city’s historical and cultural attractions.

The new hotel is also offering two new restaurants, The Twelve restaurant, and a terrace garden dining venue, in addition to a shopping gallery, the Thon Passage, a lounge bar, a fitness centre and an underground car park.

Nils Hauge, the area director of Thon Hotels, said, ‘Our natural target group will be business travellers to the EU capital. However, city weekend breaks for leisure travellers will also be important for us. Brussels is an attractive weekend destination and we will be able to offer reasonably priced weekend offers. Our hotel range in the city is broad, with hotels at the airport, in the city centre and in the EU district.’

The property is investing in solar panels and green initiatives, including LED lamps, eco-friendly showers, energy accounting and waste management. It also intends to actively promote recycling, using green energy, and is offering a special Green Package for guests.

Megabus Launches Budget Coach Travel to Europe from London

Megabus, a city-to-city express bus service operating in the UK, has commenced new routes across the UK and to other European destinations.

The company is offering new routes from London, to Paris and Boulogne in France, Brussels in Belgium, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The trips are priced at rates commencing from as little as £1 per person, and there is a £0.50 booking fee on fares.

In these times of financial austerity, coach travel could offer one avenue for affordable spring and summer European vacations, and the launch of new routes by tour operators is designed to enhance the option.

Coaches leave from Victoria Coach Station in London with the choice of day or night departures. The journey from London to Paris takes around 10 hours by coach, while the journey to Brussels takes around 9 hours, and continues to Amsterdam, adding another 3 hours to the journey time. The new routes have been developed with an investment of GBP2.5m, and the double-deck coaches have 48 seats, tables for use during the daytime and complimentary Wi-Fi service.

Sir Brian Souter, the chief executive officer of Stagecoach Group, PLC, the parent company of Megabus, said, ‘We launched in Scotland nine years ago and it has already transformed intercity travel in the UK and North America. For too long, people in many parts of Europe have been paying too much for their coach travel. Our new network offers families, students and tourists great value fares and high-quality coaches. These services will deliver a long-overdue shake-up to the over-priced European coach travel market.

Our new routes to France, Belgium and the Netherlands have already been extremely popular. Based on our experience in the UK, we are also very excited about the potential for sleeper coach services across the Channel and look forward to continuing to develop our concept vehicle.’