Brussels: The creation of the Jet Airways hub at Brussels airport will not only stimulate business and tourism links between Belgium and India alone but also between Europe and India,according to aviation experts.
Jet Airways Chairman, Naresh Goyal, and CEO Brussels Airlines, Philippe Vander Putten, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the hub at Brussels airport Wednesday afternoon.
Addressing the inaugural function, Belgian Prime Minister Guy said that to fly to Asia from Brussels one had to first fly to Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Paris to catch the connecting flight.
â€œBut that will change now. Today Brussels Airlines and Brussels Airport are taking a major new step forward towards a big dream. And this is thanks to Jet Airways.â€?
â€˜With this move Brussels airport will become the gateway between the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa,â€™â€™ Verhofstadt told the large audience of airline and aviation officials, diplomats, businessmen and journalists.
Jet Airways will start daily flights from Mumbai to New York (Newark) via Brussels from August 5, and later in August will also offer daily services from Delhi to Toronto via Brussels.
Indian Minister for Civil Aviation, Praful Patel, who came here to attend the inaugural function said,â€?Jet Airways has demonstrated that Indiaâ€™s time has truly also come vis-a-vis the rest of the world.â€?
â€œIndia has truly awoken to the fact that it has the potential. We are a large country and we have to reach out to the world and people of the world have to come to India.. You have no other way to reach out but by air,â€™â€™ said Patel.
He continued, â€œSince our government came into office we have been trying with a persistent agenda of reforming deregulation and that has led to our carriers like Jet Airways to fly outside India.â€?
Jet Airways, Chairman Naresh Goyal assured the audience thatÂ the Brussels hub will be a success story.
â€œAs the headquarters of the European Union today, Brussels provides the focal point of Jet Airways operations to Europe, US, Canada, Africa.
Â â€œI have no doubt that Brussels can be the key hub for Jet Airways and will become a highly attractive option for the traveling public. I can assure you that we in Jet Airways are determined to make the Brussels hub successful,â€? stressed Goyal.
Verhofstadt said, by 2008 the number of flights between Belgiuma and India will rise to six per day and the ultimate goal is to increase the number of flights between to 10 per day.
â€œThat means in total 3,200 passengers per day or one million extra passengers per year for Zaventem (Brussels airports). Thank you Mr. Goyal. Thank you Mr. Patel.â€?
He said the Flight Academy in Brussels will train about 150 Jet Airways pilots.
Philippe Vander Putten, CEO Brussels Airlines, said â€œthe perfect match of schedules allows our European and African passengers to smoothly connect to and from India and North America".
â€œA double daily link to India is a unique event in the history of our airport and, therefore, we are extremely proud to welcome the Jet Airways' hub at Brussels,â€™â€™ said Wilfried Van Assche, CEO of The Brussels Airport Company.
Indiaâ€™s ambassador to Belgium and the EU, Dipak Chatterjee noted that tourist traffic between Belgium and India was on the constant rise.
He said that the number of visitors from Belgium to India was increasing by 20% noting that the Indian embassy in Brussels has issued 40,000 visas last year.
Indian tourists were also coming to Belgium in large numbers. â€œIt is an acknowledged fact that he Indian tourists are among the highest spenders in the world,â€™â€™ underlined Mr. Chatterjee.
The invitees were highly impressed by the excellent organisation of the function at Brussels airport. It was so meticulously planned and executed that as the curtains were raised after the speeches the two new Jet Airways planes were seen taxing on the tarmac in the background.
After the ceremony, invitees were given a tour of the Jet Airways new additions to its fleet, a brand new Boeing 777 and a new Airbus 330 which made a stop at Brussels airport for the event.