In 1998 Sabena has flown 8.749.582 passengers with a loadfactor of 68,1%. This is an increase of 27,3% compared to last year and almost tripling the 1992 figures. Next year Sabena targets 10 million passengers. Starting 1 January 1999, a thorough reorganisation of the Group and further commercial initiatives will contribute to this.
‘I thank our passengers and our partners for their confidence and our staff for their hard work’ says Paul Reutlinger, president and CEO. ‘New destinations, more flights, a better and quicker service have resulted in this new record. The Group’s reorganisation and further commercial efforts will make Sabena in ‘99 even more attractive for travellers, and this in spite of the growing competition.’
Looking at the figures: The increase in the number of Sabena passengers - 27,3% - is three times as big as the European average (7,7% AEA figure on 31/11/98). Meanwhile, the loadfactor of the Sabena airplanes increased to 68,1%, i.e. 2,5% more than in ‘97. For long-distance flights the loadfactor remains comparable to the ‘97 figure : 71,4% compared to 71,7% in ‘97!
In ‘98 long-distance flights knew - with an increase of 44,4% - a bigger passenger growth than European flights - increasing 24,4%. The new intercontinental destinations - Montreal, Newark and Sao Paulo - have definitely contributed to this figure. But also in Europe Sabena opened several new destinations - Belfast, Nuremberg, Palma, Ajaccio, Catania, Valencia, London Stansted, Eindhoven and Faro - bringing the European total to 75 destinations.
The number of passengers in economy class increased with 28,5% and 23,7% more passengers chose to fly business class. The number of transit passengers that - with a stop in Brussels - used the Hub & Spoke network of Sabena increased by 35,5% up to 5.070.032 passengers (58% of the total number).
Success factors for ‘98 and ‘99: the success of ‘98 can be attributed to the increase of flights and destinations, departure and arrival times answering to the needs of the passenger, short transfer times thanks to the ‘quick transfer centre’ and an innovative service ( e.g. it is now possible to check in at home ànd have the luggage collected the day before departure).
A continued collaboration with airport authorities - especially BIAC, Belgocontrol and the Belgian Aviation Authority - and with international partners - especially the partners of the Qualiflyer Group and Delta - is of utmost importance. As a reminder it should be noted that Sabena is a member of the Qualiflyer Group next to Swissair, Austrian, Crossair, Lauda Air, Tyrolean, AOM, Turkish Airlines, Air Portugal and Air Littoral, which, on 1 January 1999, joins the Group as its 10th member. In the ‘Atlantic Excellence’ alliance Sabena and Delta airlines operate 51 weekly non stop flights to 6 US destinations.
Basis of the success remain the Sabena collaborators; they make the difference! Additionally to the increased productivity of the last years, hundreds of new collaborators have been recruted during the last year, especially pilots, stewards/hostesses and personnel for ground handling and technics. If growth continues, this trend could be maintained in ‘99.
The challenge for ‘99: In the beginning of ‘99 Sabena will be reorganized in business units and subsidiaries. Sabena Airline (including flight operations and commercial), Sabena Technics, Brussels Hub (including ground handling, catering, cargo and information systems), Sobelair and DAT will constitute the 5 main entities of the Sabena Group. Each operational entity must become profitable on an individual basis.
Much more visible for the passengers are the improvements of the fleet and of the services. In 1999 the first 11 of the 34 ordered Airbus A319/320/321 and 3 additional Airbus A330-200 will be delivered in the new Sabena colours - all with state-of-the-art equipment for passengers and a lot more friendly for the environment (quieter engines and less polluting). In 1999 also the new uniforms will be presented. As part of the programme ‘Welcome Now’, all personnel will - in the course of 1999 and 2000 - attend specific courses to improve overall service of Sabena to meet customer satisfaction even better.