Brussels (B)-Haarlem (NL), 27th January 2003 ? The Belgian low fare airline Virgin
Express has signed a cooperation agreement with the Dutch aviation specialist Airtrade.
From 30th March 2003, a Boeing 737-300 of Virgin Express will fly a daily rotation on the
Rome (Fiumicino) - Amsterdam (Schiphol) route.
This route is the second destination of the virtual carrier BudgetAir. Virgin Express has
been operating flights from Brussels to Rome-Fiumicino since March 1997, but it is the
first time the low fare airline will offer flights from Schiphol Airport. At present Virgin
Express offers five frequencies per day on the Brussels-Rome route.
Daily from Rome to Amsterdam from €59
The fares on the Rome-Amsterdam route will be 60 to 80% less expensive than the
existing fares charged by the traditional airlines. As always, any Virgin Express e-ticket
can be changed, even the cheapest fares. In addition, the fare structure is based on the
one-way principle. It is worth mentioning that seats on Virgin Express scheduled flights
can also be bought via travel agencies, a facility not provided by most low cost airlines,
which sell only through call centres and the internet.
The cooperation between Airtrade and Virgin Express is unique and is mutually
beneficial. Holland’s largest supplier of tourist scheduled airline tickets will make aviation
more affordable to more people. For Virgin Express the partnership with Airtrade is a
profitable way to add Amsterdam to the low fare carrier’s network.
Wim Butte, Managing Director of Airtrade, is convinced that the cooperation with Virgin
Express will trigger a revolution in the Dutch airline market: “There is enough potential
for a low cost flight to Italy aimed at both the cost conscious corporate market and the
Neil Burrows, Managing Director of Virgin Express, adds: “Amsterdam will be Virgin
Express’s 16th European destination. From 30th March there will be an end to the
monopoly of the Dutch and Italian flag carriers on the Rome-Amsterdam route and the
high fares that are a result of this unsound market situation. Entering into this new
market is a challenge, but both Virgin Express and BudgetAir have gained their
reputations by accepting and enjoying challenges”.
Airtrade Holland BV, based in Haarlem (The Netherlands), is part of the international
travel concern BCD NV and was established in 1989 as a mediator between the airlines
and Dutch travel agencies. Airtrade currently offers tourist scheduled airfares to more
than 1,100 travel agencies and has become Holland’s largest travel consolidator. In
addition, its e-commerce activities continue to develop strongly.
BCD Holdings N.V. is a Dutch company, established in 1975, employs 9,000 people in
the travel industry and in financial services across 11 countries in Europe, North- and
South-America. The company expects a turnover in 2003 of USD 4,75 billion.
WorldTravel International is a travel organisation of BCD Holdings. In the Netherlands
the following enterprises belong to this group:
? WorldTravel BTI, one of Holland’s largest corporate travel companies;
? Rottink Reisburo, which is, with its 114 branches, the largest tourism travel agency of
? Airtrade, supplier of scheduled airfares to more than 1,100 travel agencies and
developer of internet sites specialised in travel.
In the US WorldTravel International have interests in:
? WorldTravel BTI, one of the three largest corporate travel companies employing
? TRX, one of the leading suppliers of booking and quality monitoring systems for the
travel trade and market leader in the field of online reservations;
? Park ‘N Fly, which manages 13 car park companies near large airports.
Mr John A. Fentener van Vlissingen (63), President-Director of BCD Holdings, is also
Chairman of Business Travel International (BTI), the world’s largest alliance of corporate
travel companies. BTI is active in 87 countries, counts about 3,000 points of sale and
employs nearly 30,000 people. BCD Holdings holds 46% of the shares and is co-managing
partner of BTI.
In 2002 Virgin Express booked and flew 2.7 million passengers, thus becoming the
largest passenger carrier from Brussels Airport. The Belgian low fare carrier was named
“Best Short Haul Carrier of the Year 2002” by the Belgian travel trade industry.
Virgin Express operates a modern fleet of 14 Boeing 737 aircraft.
From 30th March 2003, Virgin Express offers besides its new Rome-Amsterdam service
also flights from Brussels to Athens, Barcelona, Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Faro, Geneva,
Gothenburg, Lisbon, Madrid, Malaga, Milan, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Rome and