Air Belgium is set to lease two Airbus A330-900neos that were initially built for the now-defunct Air Berlin. The Belgian carrier is due to take the two aircraft this year and will likely enter them into service by the end of 2021.
Two new A330-900neos for Air Belgium
Fledgling carrier Air Belgium has been flying for just over three years now, after commencing operations in June 2018. The airline will add two new A330-900neos to its small commercial fleet, which presently consists of three A340-300s.
The two jets (serial numbers 1844 and 1861) were originally destined for German carrier Air Berlin before it folded in 2017. Despite no official announcement thus far, pictures show one of the A330-900neos at Airbus’s facility in Toulouse decorated in the Air Belgium livery.
According to ch-aviation, the two aircraft are owned by Air Lease Corp (ALC) and will be delivered to Air Belgium on lease. The rest of Air Belgium’s fleet is also on lease, which includes three A340-300s and four A330-200F cargo planes.
While there’s been no official word on when the new A330-900neos will enter service, they are likely to do so within the year. One of the jets has already been given its new registration (OO-ABF). Aviation website ch-aviation has filed delivery dates of August 2021 and December 2021 for the two planes.
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The planes were offered to Rwandair
After Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy in 2017, the two A330-900neos were left without a home. ALC offered the planes to African airline Rwandair, which agreed to take them. A deal was struck and the planes were even painted in Rwandair’s livery.
— Aviation Toulouse (@Frenchpainter) May 1, 2019
However, the agreement fell through and the two jets were again left without an operator. Rwandair had originally planned to use its two new A330-900neos to fly to the United States but has since scrapped these plans.
Air Belgium’s fleet modernization
Air Belgium’s current commercial fleet consists of three A340-300s which are all on lease. The planes are approximately 14 years old and were acquired on lease directly from Airbus. Interestingly, the leases are set to expire in 2023 and would leave Air Belgium with just two A330-900neos in the fleet.
It’s unclear whether the new A330neos will add to the fleet or replace the A340s when their leases expire. The twin-engined A330neo is certainly a more efficient machine than the four-engined A340 and is suitable for Air Belgium’s existing network.
Air Belgium primarily flies to destinations in the Caribbean out of its hub at Brussels South Charleroi Airport and has also flown to Hong Kong in the past. The airline suspended its Caribbean flights due to the COVID pandemic but is set to resume operations in July. Additionally, Air Belgium is set to operate out of Brussels Airport later this year, with a date of October penciled in.
The carrier has expressed interest in the A330neo in the past. Three years ago, CEO Niky Terzakis claimed the airline was in negotiations with Airbus about bringing in A330neos, although nothing materialized at the time.
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