Brussels-based low fare airline Virgin Express has moved to plug the gap left by Sabena, adding Geneva, Gothenburg, Stockholm and Zurich services on 12 November, with 15 more undisclosed routes planned.

The carrier operates 13 Boeing 737-300/400s and has an -700 on order. The airline, which has shown an interest in buying part of Sabena and may yet take a stake in DAT Plus, plans to recruit former Sabena staff. It has also obtained five of the defunct carrier's nine slots at London Heathrow, and three of five at Barcelona and Rome Fiumicino.

Other carriers have also taken advantage of Sabena's downfall. Delta Airlines has added services from New York to Brussels, while Lufthansa has doubled frequencies between Brussels and its Frankurt hub to eight to secure ex-Sabena long haul passengers. Lufthansa has also stepped up services from Brussels to Berlin and Munich.

Antwerp-based VLM Airlines, the only credible Belgian scheduled operator apart from Virgin Express, started scheduled services between Brussels and London City on 8 November, filling the gap left by Sabena. Among others to move into the Brussels market are British European, with three daily services each from Newcastle, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Newcastle, and Finnair with another Helsinki-Brussels frequency.

Source: Flight International