Air Transport World

Brussels surprise: SN Brussels Airlines stays aloft, odd name and all, although many wonder how. (Profile).

Chief Executive Peter Davies doesn't speak of it publicly, but behind closed doors he acknowledges that SN Brussels Airlines possibly is not the best name for the carrier that emerged from the remnants of Sabena and its Regional affiliate, Delta Air Transport, at the end of 2001. The choice, a combination of Sabena's IATA code and the new airline's home city, is long and lacks appeal; moreover, it carries a certain baggage. "I understand the reasons for choosing this name, and I also understand the time pressure they were under. But... " His voice trails off as he watches the takeoff of an SN Brussels Avro RJ from his office window.

Davies, who joined the airline from DHL in April 2002, some four months after SN Brussels was born, reveals that testing of a new name is being done. SNBA was voted down quickly because of the implied association with British Airways. was another option and since April is the carrier's website address, replacing At the same time, the down-to-earth executive admits that, "We don't have the millions needed to change the brand. We'll have to be clever without investing money.

Indeed, after a first year in which the carrier posted an operating loss of [euro]102.5 million ($114.8 million) and a net loss, reduced by one-time gains, of [euro]36.8 million on revenues of [euro]443.5 million, cleverness is at a premium. "We've been able to survive and succeed throughout this year by sheer tenacity in a difficult economic environment with lots of odds against us, [including] heavy competition from Virgin Express, Ryanair down the road, traditional airlines entering the low-cost route," Davies says. "One could imagine better circumstances to start up an airline."

But SN Brussels has defied the odds before. In fact, some still are wondering how it got into the air at all following Sabena's collapse. They see the nor-sohidden hand of the Belgian government intent on resurrecting its national airline after the European Commission finally closed the door on any more state aid. …

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