Name: Bernard Gustin
Company: Brussels Airlines
Number of employees: 3,400
Recent project: The June 1 launch of service to New York and the launch of Korongo Airlines, an intra-Africa joint venture airline.
First job: Financial analyst for Procter & Gamble, 1993.
Little-known fact about you: In my function as a consultant at Arthur D. Little, I wrote the business plan for Sabena’s successor, SN Brussels Airlines. Today, 10 years later, I am the CEO of this same airline.
Essential business philosophy: A quote from Winston Churchill says it all: “Everybody knew it was not possible. One day, a man came, he wasn’t aware and he did it.”
Best way to keep a competitive edge: Be up on the curve, provide great service while keeping an eye on the financials.
Yardstick of success:Our success and sustainable profitability will be my gauge.
As a Traveler
Most important item you take when traveling: My iPad; I can download reports, music, sports and TV programs I may have missed and also Skype with my family.
How you spend your time on board: On some trips, I review product financial data. Often I read and chat with the crew in order to see the company from another perspective. I also keep eyes and ears open for customer reactions.
Favorite restaurant in the world: The Sea Grill in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Brussels
Favorite destination: New York City. I can’t wait to bring my children to see New York.
About Your Brand
What travelers can expect from Brussels Airlines: We have refined our long-haul product to offer value and top service. We do not have a firstclass product, but we offer first-class hospitality and service with a Belgian theme. Brussels Airlines offers no-nonsense quality, comfort and trendy service with convenient timetables to Europe and Africa.
What makes Brussels Airlines’ business class unique: With the launch of New York service, we wanted a world-class business class. The seat is the best of its class, with high-quality Belgian cuisine and an experience that Americans want the most. The aircraft will have 30 business-class seats, of which 10 will be single “king seats” for the solo (business) traveler. The fully flat seat to Brussels will be a benchmark.
Most challenging aspect of your launch in North America: As the saying goes, “To be famous in Belgium is to be unknown.” Brussels Airlines needs exposure in the United States, and one way to tackle this issue is through our relationship with the Lufthansa Group. This network will immediately feed into Brussels Airlines. Once business travelers try Brussels Airlines and experience our great service, we are sure they will be repeat customers. We have a lot of competition, but our service is superior and will be a favorite among travelers.
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A few months ago, I flew Polaris business class on a United flight from Dulles (IAD) to Paris (CDG). It was only when I got to my hotel in Paris I realized that I didn’t have my iPad or its bag or accessories. Since I had been working on it in the restaurant in the Polaris lounge and then went directly to the gate, I knew I either left it propped up on my table when I packed up or in my business-class seat. But what was the best method to alert the airline about my careless mishap and (hopefully) retrieve it? With spotty data and WiFi, searching for information on my phone was frustrating and slow. Here’s what I learned from the anxiety-inducing experience (and unexpected ending) about what to do if you leave something behind on your flight:
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