The Ridiculous Reason Brussels Airlines Is Forced To Cut Flights To Kinshasa

Filed Under: Brussels

Brussels Airlines is being forced to reduce their flights from Brussels to Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from daily to 4x weekly. No, they’re not being forced to do this by Lufthansa, but rather by Jean Tshiumba Mpunga, the General Manager of the Democratic Republic of Congo Civil Aviation Authority.

This move comes as EU officials have condemned the DRC government’s violent crackdown on protests against President Joseph Kabila. His regime has been criticized for corruption, repression, and incompetence, and while his second term in office expired more than a year ago, he has stayed in power. The election to replace him has now been delayed until December, despite a deal having been brokered that was supposed to see him replaced late last year.

So it’s obvious that Brussels Airlines being forced to cancel flights is politically motivated, though what’s pathetic is the reason that the DRC is giving for forcing Brussels Airlines to reduce flights. Per

“I hereby inform you that, in the absence of reciprocity in the operation of international air services between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Kingdom of Belgium, the weekly frequency numbers allocated to your Brussels Airlines airline are reduced by seven (7) to four (4), from Monday, February 5, 2018.

TOP CONGO FM has more news on the story: “The government of the DRC is applying ‘appropriate measures’ to re-balance the trade between the two countries,” a member of the cabinet of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained. “In that framework, both Congolese and Belgian airlines have rights to 4 weekly flights“, the member of the cabinet added.

The DRC is acting as if they’re not punishing Brussels Airlines, but rather they’ve just decided to allocate four weekly slots in the market to Congolese airlines, and four weekly slots in the market to Belgian airlines. The only slight problem with giving the rights to four weekly flights to Congolese airlines is that the country doesn’t have any airlines capable of operating the flight. The country only has a couple of very small airlines, and none of them have the widebody aircraft needed for this route (Brussels Airlines flies an A330 to Kinshasa).

Sadly the party being harmed most by this change is the DRC. Air service has a positive financial contribution to a country (both directly and indirectly). But I guess it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that the current regime isn’t looking out for what’s in the best interest of the country.

I’m curious to see if this service suspension lasts…

  1. The most surprising part in, my opinion, is that there was enough demand on the route that Brussels Airlines flew the route daily

  2. @Hawaiian Joe – when you colonize a country and make it financially dependent, then demand isn’t a problem. Almost every former French/Belgian colony has daily service to Paris or Brussels.

  3. They’ve had decades to improve their situation since decolonization and have failed. Their only move now is to try to bring others down.

  4. It’s almost like the DRC still holds a grudge for the Belgian genocide that killed 8-10 million citizens of the Congo Free State.

  5. Pales in comparison to what the enlightened and progressive leaders of UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, and Egypt did to Qatar Airways…

  6. @hawaiian joe – Not surprising at all. Many articles have been written about how Kinshasa is the most profitable and high volume route for air France and Brussels Airlines, as the front is full of diamonds and other natural resource traders paying full Business Class fares, and the back is full of aid workers. These are highly lucrative routes for these airlines.

  7. @Brian, while I disagree with the way it’s presented, it’s true that colonisation has kept ties quite strong. It’s quite the same with the UK — India, Nigeria and Australia (to name a few) have very good air markets to London — except their old protectorates that turned to war-ridden countries (Palestine, Iraq etc.)

  8. What is ridiculous about this? Belgium and DRC agreed on a certain number of frequencies, which DRC discretionarily permitted Belgium to exceed on a goodwill basis.

    Once the goodwill was withdrawn, the discretionary exercise was also withdrawn. That’s politics for you. It isn’t like DRC are trying to unilaterally abrogate or renegotiate an open skies agreement, unlike some other countries….

    And no, I’m not condoning the ridiculous political situation in DRC, but this kind of stuff happens very often all over the world. International aviation necessarily works on the basis of reciprocity, and both sides would be well served to remember that.

  9. Does this not apply to Air France seeing as it’s the EU? I think they fly daily
    devastated at the reduction in Congolese airlines having to reduce services lol Must have been blacklisted for years from operating to Europe. Congo Airlines has 1 A320 and 2 737s and no international services

  10. Fairly normal from a political point of view. Interestingly the Belgian military contingency helped evacuate my mother and myself when my father was the ambassador to Zaire in the 90s.

  11. @Brian @Jason

    Thanks for those pieces of information, seems to explain why they have demand to run a daily frequency. I guess it just shows how much I know about these kinds of things…;)

  12. @Brian @Jason

    Thanks for those pieces of information, seems to explain why they have demand to run a daily frequency. I guess it just shows how much I know about these kinds of things… 😉

  13. Welcome to Africa, a permanent basket case. How will the Congolese migrants get to Europe. Anyone who knows Brussels, has been there, walked the neighborhoods outside the tourist areas, will see that there’s no reason to fly to the Congo when it’s in Brussels. Don’t worry, once a padded envelope is given to President for Life Kibala the restrictions will be lifted. The Communist Chinese are taking over Africa with their economic activity there; they can have it.

  14. @Brian @Jason @Hawaiian Joe. Having taken this flight several times, it is always pretty much completely full. And there are very few aid workers on the flight, its mostly Congolese nationals traveling between the US and Europe to the Congo and inventors going to Kinshasa looking for property and minerals. Going to just punish the Congolese people even more, limiting their abilities to travel to and from the country. It won’t hurt any tourism, because there is none, pretty much impossible to get a visa to enter the country.

  15. @Simon
    There is actually some tourism in DRC, like people going to the Virunga national park. But then you are right that cutting the flight won’t hurt any tourism. Virunga is on the DRC-Uganda/Rwanda border, taking a 3000+ km road trip filled with potential ambushes and violences is def bs. Generally ppl go there only as an Uganda/Rwanda excursion, as it takes only 8hrs going from Kigali or Kampala.

  16. @simon – DRC tourist visa almost impossible to get? I got mine in a day at Tokyo, and was piece of cake.

  17. Dumb (but honest) question: How come countries with the words Democratic, Republic, or People’s in their official names usually seem to have no regard for their citizens?

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