SABENA, SN Brussels and then Brussels Airlines – excellence in the skies over Uganda


(Posted 13th April 2017)

It was this aircraft, an Airbus A330-300, registered as OO-SFO, which on the 26th of April 2002 took off from Zaventem to relaunch long haul flights to Africa after the demise of good old SABENA a year earlier. The aircraft, originally owned by SABENA is seen here in the colours of SN Brussels Airlines before later changing livery again to look like this and regularly calling on Entebbe once again.

The first Africa destination was Entebbe on that day, to the delight of SABENA’s faithful passengers, once again being able to enjoy the ‘Savoir Vivre‘ in the skies.
The ties between Belgium and Uganda, in aviation terms, go back to as early as 1953, when the first SABENA flight touched down in Entebbe enroute to the then Belgian Congolese city of Lubumbashi.
This route continued in that format for 10 years before SABENA then in 1963 launched direct flights from Brussels to Entebbe. These services continued, through some of Uganda’s darkest hours, uninterrupted until 2001 when SABENA fell victim to then parent company Swissair going bankrupt, dragging the Belgian flag carrier down with them.

(SN Brussels Airlines Country Manager Uganda, Mr. Geert Lemmen seen here at the welcoming ceremony with Mr. Roger Wamara who was overseeing sales for the carrier in Uganda at the time)

(Seen here is the 2002 Minister for Transport and Communications in Uganda. Hon. John Nasasira, welcoming the inaugural flight at Entebbe International Airport)

The Belgian aviation fraternity though would have none of it and work started almost immediately to create a new Belgian national airline and indeed a year later was SN Brussels born, before it was renamed some years later into Brussels Airlines, upholding some of the finest traditions in the skies over Europe and Africa.
Today does the airline operate 53 aircraft, among them 10 long haul Airbus A330’s which serve Entebbe, Kigali and Bujumbura in Eastern Africa, a number of destinations in West Africa, three destinations in North America and of late also connect Brussels with Mumbai in India.
This year does Brussels Airlines therefore celebrate 15 years of a growing presence in Uganda, today flying five times a week nonstop from Brussels to Entebbe before then returning to the European capital via Kigali.
But it is not just passengers Brussels Airlines flies to Europe but also cut flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables and chilled fresh fish fillet from Uganda, reaching the supermarkets of Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries the next morning ready for consumers seeking organic produce and products.

(The inaugural flight by SN Brussels Airlines on the ground in Entebbe on the evening of the 26th of April 2002)

Brussels Airlines has supported the Ugandan tourism industry, previously as SABENA, then as SN Brussels and finally as Brussels Airlines and was twice in recent years honoured and recognized by the Uganda Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism for their invaluable contributions to promote the country abroad.