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Well, that was fast. After a few months of running a Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) to Hong Kong (HKG) route, Air Belgium is taking a winter recess on future operations for all scheduled flights.
From the day Air Belgium postponed its inaugural flight a few days before takeoff, there’s been trouble. Originally, CEO Niky Terzakis estimated that 60-70% of the airline’s revenue would come from China, and about 500,000 passengers starting out. They planned to operate a hub located in Charleroi and expand from there to other locations in China and eventually the US. However, this never came to fruition.
As of now, all flights scheduled between Oct. 1, 2018, and March 30, 2019, have been canceled.
Air Belgium’s business model originally consisted of three A340-300s, previously flown by Finnair, on the Brussels/Hong Kong route three times weekly. Prices for these flights usually went for around €500 in economy.
According to an article by L’Avenir, Air Belgium is instead shifting its focus to charter business. The four aircraft the airline was operating (they acquired another plane within the last month) are to be leased out to other airlines focusing primarily on Air France and British Airways. The British Airways line between London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Cairo International Airport (CAI) in Egypt is already being operated by a former Air Belgium plane, replacing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
TPG never had the chance to review the Air Belgium experience. However, according to One Mile At A Time, the flight was generally enjoyable and an especially good bargain for those who booked premium economy. Ta ta for now, Air Belgium.
Featured Image by Jeroen Stroes Aviation Photography via Flickr
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