Just when it seemed as though Air Belgium had found their calling as a wet-lease airline, things are set to change. The carrier is due to commence Airbus A340 flights to the French Caribbean.
Air Belgium has a curious business model. They operate a fleet of Airbus A340 aircraft from Brussels’ secondary airport, Charleroi. Initially, the airline launched with flights to Hong Kong. However, this didn’t work out and the airline suspended the route. It then seemed to find a business wet-leasing their Airbus A340s to British Airways, however, it appears the airline wants more. Indeed, it is now scheduled to launch services to the French Carribean.
From Hong Kong to the Carribean
Air Belgium initially launched offering services between Brussels and Hong Kong. However, while launched in June 2018, the services were suspended on October 1st. The Airline had stated that it was going to resume Hong Kong flights from March 30th.
This plan to resume Hong Kong flights was, however, scrapped in mid-March. At the time, the airline said that it would “carry on with its development projects to China and to the Americas”. It seems as though the Americas could’ve meant the Carribean, as the airline now plans to fly there.
— Air Belgium (@Airbelgium) July 16, 2019
Air Belgium has today announced that it plans to operate flights to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe and to Fort-de-France in Martinique. Recently Simple Flying reported that Air France was flying from Pointe-à-Pitre to Miami using an Airbus A320.
Air Belgium will operate the connection twice a week, believed to be once per destination. The service will commence on the 7th December with tickets for the new route ranging from €345 for economy to €1,739 for business class. Additionally, the airline is keen to point out that the €345 fare is for full service, including baggage.
What about wet-lease?
Air Belgium is currently doing a great job of operating their Airbus A340s in a wet-lease capacity. Their main customer is British Airways, with the British flag carrier using their aircraft in place of Boeing 787s grounded by the Trent 1000 engine crisis. This has seen the aircraft operating to a range of destinations including New York, Toronto, and Cairo. Additionally, Sun Express was leasing the aircraft earlier this year.
However, Air Belgium will not have to pack up its wet-lease operation with the launch of the Caribbean scheduled services. The carrier has four Airbus A340-300 aircraft. As the new flights are only scheduled for twice a week, Air Belgium will still have plenty of spare capacity within its fleet to continue wet-leasing. It will be interesting to see how this route performs once it is launched later this year.
Would you fly with Air Belgium to the Carribean? Do you think the route will perform better than Hong Kong did? Let us know in the comments!