Air Antwerp Grounds Its Only Fokker Over Coronavirus

Air Antwerp, the one-Fokker 50 operator, has had to stop flying between Belgium and the UK in light of new restrictions advised by the Belgian government. The airline usually flew up to three times a day between Antwerp and London City Airport, but will cease all services from the 22nd March through to the 10th April.

Air Antwerp Fokker F50
The distinctive Fokker F50. Photo: Air Antwerp

Air Antwerp grounds its Fokker

One of our favorite little airlines, Air Antwerp, has been bitten by the coronavirus bug. The airline announced yesterday that it would be canceling all its flights from the 22nd March through to the 10th April, at least.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the airline said that the COVID-19 pandemic was presenting it with “circumstances the airline industry has never witnessed before”. It went on to say that it is trying to assist its passengers as much as possible.

In a bid to follow this through, Air Antwerp will be operating all normal flights until after the 20th March, allowing passengers to get back home before services cease. The airline says that the travel advice issued by the Belgian federal government and the extraordinary measures decided by the Belgian National Security Council on March 17th has left it with no choice but to cancel all its flights after that.

The airline anticipates closing flights from the 22nd March through to the 10th April. However, in a later tweet, it says that flights are expected to resume on the 12th April. The airline is maintaining a page on its website with further details about coronavirus related service cuts, and says it will keep the page updated as time goes on.

For anyone booked to fly, Air Antwerp has said passengers can cancel or change their bookings free of charge via their customer service number. Bookings made through third parties will need to be dealt with via that party.

Details of the flights still operating

Air Antwerp with its single Fokker 50 only operates one route, and that’s between Antwerp Airport and London City Airport. As such, there aren’t many routes to check to see which services are still operating!

On the 19th March (today), all scheduled flights will operate between Antwerp and London. These are flights with numbers WP100/101, 120/121, and 140/141.

Air Antwerp
The aircraft carries the registration OO-VLS, as a nod to Air Antwerp’s predecessor. Photo: Air Antwerp

Tomorrow, the 20th March, only two return flights will operate. These will be WP100/101 and WP140/141. This will be the last chance for passengers to fly back to their origin on Air Antwerp if they are currently away from home.

From the time WP141 lands, no more flights will take off for the airline until Sunday 12th April. The first flight planned for operation will be WP140/141, the late Sunday flight to London City and back.

EU261 does not apply

Under normal circumstances, if an airline cancels a flight within 48 hours of its departure, you’d be eligible to claim passenger compensation under rule EU261. However, yesterday the European Commission released a communication that stated all rights under EU261 were to be waived if the case was related to COVID-19 disruption.

Air Antwerp
The Fokker 50 won’t be appearing at LCY for almost a month. Photo: Air Antwerp

Of course, passengers are still permitted to claim back the value of their flight or to seek to rebook their flight free of charge. It is only the compensation part of EU261 that no longer applies.

Are you booked to fly Air Antwerp? Will you miss seeing the 30-year-old Fokker at London City Airport? Let us know in the comments.