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Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa and United to Launch Flights Between North America and Africa

The partnership between the three Star Alliance partners will tap into Brussels Airline's network in Africa

by Lauren Smith

March 18, 2024

Photo: Brussels Airlines, Airbus A320. Courtesy of Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines, its parent company Lufthansa, and partner United Airlines plan to introduce new flights between North America and Africa, all routed through a new strategic hub in the Belgian capital.

The headquarters of Lufthansa Group in Frankfurt and United’s home in Chicago are working together on codesharing agreements and schedules that would take passengers between North America and Africa via Brussels Airport (BRU).

Photo: Brussels Airlines – Brussels International Airport. Courtesy of Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines has a strong presence in Africa and flies to 18 destinations on the continent, including major cities such as Kinshasa (FIH), Luanda (LAD), and Abidjan (ABJ).

Brussels Airlines plans to rebuild its short-haul European capacity to support its profitable African routes. Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr said the cuts to the Belgian carrier’s network during the pandemic “overshot the mark.”

By joining forces with United, with its extensive transatlantic operation, the African links will also be opened up to North American travelers. Brussels Airlines operates just one daily year-round flight to the U.S.—to New York (JFK)—. In contrast, United flies daily between Brussels and three U.S. destinations: Chicago (ORD), Newark (EWR), and Washington D.C. (IAD).

Photo: United Airlines, Boeing 767-300ER. Courtesy of Fraport – Frankfurt Airport

“This is a major project with United that we expect a lot from,” Lufthansa’s Spohr told German media.

The plan may also eventually involve fellow Star Alliance member Air Canada, which flies daily from Montreal (YUL) to Brussels and adds a flight from Toronto (YYZ) in the summer.

“It is no secret that we are pursuing ambitious growth plans for our long-haul network,” a spokesperson for Brussels Airlines told The spokesperson highlighted the carrier’s existing cooperation with United and Air Canada through the Star Alliance. Those airlines have “transatlantic capacities” that could “make Brussels a true global hub for passengers traveling to and from Africa.”

Similarly, Brussels Airlines CEO Dorothea von Boxberg spoke to Dutch media last month about the airline’s plan to become a gateway to Africa for Europeans and North Americans. “We are therefore going to expand our network and offer more flights,” she said.

Photo: Brussels Airlines, Airbus A330-300 Business Class. Courtesy of Brussels Airlines

In June, Brussels Airlines will use its new Airbus A330, its tenth wide-body jet, to launch a new flight to Nairobi, Kenya (NBO). The Belgian flag carrier is also increasing the frequency of its link to Kigali, Rwanda (KGL) daily.

United didn’t comment on the partnership but is known to be keen to claim its share of the African aviation market, one of the fastest growing in the world.

The number of travelers from the continent to the United States grew steadily between 2011 and 2019 to just under 600,000 per year. Travel from Africa has also rebounded strongly following the pandemic: 366,000 visitors came to the U.S. in 2022.