After launching its Toronto service last spring, Brussels Airlines and India Tourism Toronto welcomed the travel industry last night to celebrate flights to Mumbai, the carrier’s latest destination and first in Asia.
According to Christophe Allard, Brussels Airlines’ director for North America, service from Toronto to Mumbai via Brussels will be available March 30, operating out of Toronto Pearson five times weekly (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Flights to Mumbai will also feature the carrier’s Economy Privilege product, offering guests additional legroom and perks like champagne and chocolates. The Mumbai service will also see Brussels enter a codeshare with Air India, Allard said.
During his presentation, Allard also took the opportunity mark a poignant milestone with a moment of silence: the first anniversary of the Brussels airport attack, which killed more than 30 people last March 22. It was less than a week later that Brussels Airlines’ Toronto service was scheduled to debut last year, eventually taking flight April 7 – just five days after the airport reopened.
Despite the attacks, Allard said that Brussels Airlines had a strong 2016, posting financial results of 1.3 billion Euros and flying eight million passengers worldwide, an increase of 3.2 per cent over the previous year.
“It was quite an achievement when you consider the awful circumstances which affected traffic to and from Brussels last year,” Allard said of the airline’s 2016 results.
While the majority of the carrier’s connections are in Europe (more than 70 currently), Allard said that North America is a growing market for Brussels Airlines; in addition to Toronto (which is currently Brussels’ only Canadian gateway), flights are offered to and from JFK International Airport and Washington-Dulles International Airport. He attributed the airline’s growth, particularly in Europe, to what he described as the “no compromise model,” combining the fares of a low-cost carrier with the service level of a legacy airline.
“That’s what’s helped us experience strong growth in Europe over the last few years,” he said.
Anil Oraw, India Tourism’s director for Toronto, also provided guests with an update on the destination. In 2016, India saw an increase to 300,000 Canadian arrivals, attributed in part to the debut of the country’s E-visa program opening to Canadians in 2015. Oraw reminded guests that India is also now offering free SIM cards to travellers at all 60 airports in the country, a program which launched earlier this month.