New Airline Air Belgium’s Ticket Sales Take Off Today
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Brand-new airline Air Belgium begins selling advance tickets today for an inaugural service route between Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) and Hong Kong (HKG) four times a week. Inaugural commercial flights are set to launch on April 30.
The Belgium-based carrier received its air operator’s license (AOC) in March and expects to add flights to six other destinations within mainland China by May, according to Air Belgium CEO Niky Terzakis, former CEO of cargo airline TNT Airways. Terzakis estimated that 60-70% of the airline’s revenue would come from China, and that Air Belgium expects around 500,000 passengers starting out. The airline will provide jobs for around 600 people: 360 full-time equivalent at Air Belgium, and 240 at Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL).
The choice of routes is significant: Air Belgium is 49.995% owned by a company called Aviation Investment Holding NV., which is owned by Hong Kong-based entities Pioneer Topworld Ltd and Sky Master Holdings Ltd. Aviation Investment Holding will be represented on the Air Belgium board by directors Peter Yip, Alexey Sumchenko and Mikko Rautio, according to the airline. China’s largest travel agency, UTour, has also backed the new Belgian airline. Adding an airline affiliation to its core travel activities is expected to be a trend in the Chinese travel agency industry moving forward, according to Air Transport World.
But under European Union requirements, Air Belgium is majority Belgian-owned in order to operate under Belgium air traffic rights, with the following additional shareholders comprising a combined 50.005% ownership stake:
- 3T Management & Associates BVBA with 19.993%;
- Regional government investor Societe Regionale d’Investissement de Wallonie NV with 12.501%;
- National government investor Federale Participatie- en Investeringsmaatschappij NV with 12.501%;
- Sabena Aerospace NV with 5.01%
Air Belgium plans to fly a fleet of four A340-300 aircraft, and the airline has already received two of the A340s from Airbus. The first plane, OO-ABA, is an 11-year-old aircraft that was originally delivered to Finnair, according to AirlineGeeks, and received Air Belgium livery at Brussels International Airport (BRU) before being transported to Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL). The second craft, OO-ABB, is also a former Finnair-owned A340 before being stored in 2016, after the airline began retiring its A340 fleet in favor of the A350-900.
AirlineGeeks also reports that “The A340s will fly with 303 total seats in three different cabins: Business class will include 18 seats similar to those found onboard American Airlines and Delta Air Lines’ 767 fleet, featuring power outlets, and a bed length of 79 inches. The premium economy cabin will see seven seats per row for a total of 21 seats with 36 inches of legroom and 18 degrees of recline, double the amount offered in economy. The remaining 264 economy seats of the aircraft will be in a standard 2-4-2 configuration, each offering 31 inches of legroom. All seats will offer inflight entertainment, though economy seats will not have power ports.”
Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL) is located about 34 miles outside the city center of Brussels and is popular amongst European budget carriers due to its lower operating costs: Air Belgium will only pay €3 per passenger operating out of Brussels South, in contrast to €28 per passenger out of Brussels International Airport (BRU).
All images courtesy of Air Belgium.
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